Jacket linked to Manitoba Métis will soon be coming home

Handmade garment discovered by British second-hand store has been sourced to the Red River Valley and homeland of the Manitoba Métis.

A close-up of the distinctive Métis beading on the 'Native jacket'. Photo: APTN

A “Native jacket” that caused a splash on the other side of the pond will soon be coming home to Manitoba.

That’s because the handmade garment discovered by a British second-hand store has been sourced to the Red River Valley and the homeland of the Manitoba Métis, said Alice Leadbetter, a spokesperson for Glass Onion Vintage.

The store posted a recent update on its social media account after first asking followers to help identify the jacket in 2023.

“As promised, we wanted to share with you in more detail what we have learned about this special jacket so far,” Leadbetter said in a recent post.

“With thanks to the @manitobametisfederation whose experts have helped to authenticate the jacket and have shared their knowledge of it’s incredible story.”

Read more: British vintage clothing company searching for origin of ‘Native jacket’

The jacket dates back to the 1800s and was discovered in one of the store’s vintage clothing bales.

After the find attracted a flurry of media attention on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, Leadbetter said the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) reached out with further information.

“The MMF have experts who are incredibly knowledgeable about Métis design and techniques and it was their knowledge that allowed us to authenticate the jacket beyond reasonable doubt without it being inspected in person by these individuals,” Leadbetter told APTN News.

“The MMF believes it originates from the Red River Region of Manitoba.”

The region is known as the homeland of the Manitoba Métis, who are an Indigenous nation and people of mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous descent.

Indigenous jacket
This leather jacket found in the U.K. has been identified as having Métis origins. Photo: APTN

“Our People have a strong distinct identity and share a common history in the great western plains centered in the Red River Valley that is entirely our own,” the MMF says on its website.

“Red River Settlement – now Winnipeg – is the birthplace of the Métis Nation and the heart of the Métis Nation Homeland. The Red River Métis is Canada’s negotiating partner in Confederation and the founder of Manitoba.”

Leadbetter says Glass Onion Vintage, a chain of second-hand shops based in South Yorkshire, Eng., hopes to put the jacket with its distinctive design and flower beading on a one-way flight.

“Next steps are we are working closely with the MMF to create a plan for repatriation,” she said. “We hope to take the jacket over to Canada personally.”

Peter Fleming with the North West Métis Council of Manitoba confirmed he’d spoken with the founder and owner of Glass Onion about returning the jacket to Canada after a possible tour of British museums.

“We’re looking at a time to have them bring it over and do the authentication of it,” he told APTN. “We’re pretty confident that it is (a Métis-made garment).”

Fleming said he’d like nothing better than to find the original 0wner of the jacket and learn about the person who made it.

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