The court ruling of the Powley case established a very concrete method with which to determine the validity of both what qualifies as a rights-bearing Métis community, and who is a rights-bearing Métis.
While Self-identification as a Métis person is one of the key parts of establishing Métis identity, that self-identification cannot exist in a vacuum. As mentioned in the Powley case, that Métis identity must also accompany an ancestral connection to a recognized historical community, and also to acceptance as a Métis by a modern community that is a living, thriving community that collectively descends from that historical community.
While many Canadians have a measure of indigenous ancestry that blends with their European heritage, the thing they often lack and which keeps them from claiming rights as a Métis under s35 of the Constitution is the lack of a connection to a rights-bearing community. While it’s possible to look back in the annals of history and potentially find that your ancestors were part of a historical community, the question is this: does your “Métis” community actually still exist as a community? The thing is that unless that historical community of mixed-blood people you descend from has maintained some form of collective identity, quasi-cohesive mutual interdependence, or has been understood by outsiders to stand apart (and together) as a separate, indigenous community/entity from mainstream society, from historic times until present day, it is very unlikely that your community exists or that it can be proven in a way that would meet S35, or that would ever be legally recognized by Canada.
Just finding evidence of a historic community that included mixed-blood people is not enough, because communities can scatter and the members can wind up in various towns and cities, becoming assimilated and absorbed into mainstream society, which is what happened to most (all?) of the historical mixed-blood populations in eastern Canada. Just because online genealogical research makes it easy to search your family tree back to the 1600s where you might errantly find a distant Indian great grandmother who had mixed-blood children, does not mean that you have a connection to a historical community. Even more so, if you live in suburbia, a city, or a small town surrounded by non-indigenous Canadians the chances are that you, your parents, and several generations before you also lived, worked, and married with other non-indigenous Canadians. Your connection to that historical community was severed hundreds of years ago and a contemporary community never actually existed.
Sure, you can do your genealogy and find an ancient connection to an Indian ancestor; of course can declare yourself "Métis"; and certainly you can join one of the hundreds of newly formed “Métis communities” that have sprung up across Canada (from coast to coast to coast, as one fake Métis organization likes to say) and pretend to part of a community; but at the end of the day it is a meaningless declaration that doesn't fly in the real world of courts and government.
You aren’t Métis.
Committee adds Conditions for Treaty 1 and MMF Indigenous consultation Before Old St. Vital cemetery land sale Can be Approved
A city committee has approved a plan that would ultimately allow it to sell a former cemetery site that has sat unused for decades, with one possible caveat.
The site at Prestwick Drive has remained unused since the city expropriated it in 1977, due to concerns that six bodies remained at the property. But in 2016, the city learned all 67 bodies from the former cemetery had actually been relocated to a new cemetery.
The property — a rectangular parcel about 19,300 square feet in size, or just under a half-acre — is bounded by three parking lots northwest of the intersection of Scurfield Boulevard and Prestwick Drive.
An administrative report to the committee meeting said the property was originally acquired by expropriation in 1977 at a cost of $2,100 from the Parish of St. Vital, part of a land assembly initiative. However, the strip was never sold.
On Monday, council’s property and development committee approved a plan to declare the land surplus in order to finally sell it. But the committee also added in a requirement that the city first notify and consider any feedback from Treaty One First Nations and the Manitoba Metis Federation.
The city previously sent notification letters to the Vital Statistics Agency and Funeral Board of Manitoba.
Council approval would be required to permit the change.
Full article at Winnipeg Sun
While having an indigenous ancestor is key to claiming Métis identity, simply finding one in your family tree is probably not enough to make a valid claim to being Métis or becoming part of the Métis Nation as a citizen. Citizenship is a legal distinction that requires more than simply searching ancestry.com or having a distant ancestor.
Some people mistakenly think that having a distant ancestor gives them the right to declare themselves Métis, using the idea that Métis=mixed-blood ancestry. This is mostly erroneous, as ancestry and self-identification – while a basic component of Métis identity – are simply not enough. Beyond these, there must be an ancestral connection to the historic Métis Nation and the Métis community whose cultural practices, kinship system, and historical recognition which grounds the Métis identity. This is because Métis is not simply a racial designation. Rather, Métis is a national identity that emerged as a distinct entity in the historic Northwest during the course of the 18th and 19th centuries in the “historic Métis Nation Homeland,” which includes the 3 Prairie Provinces and extends into Ontario, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the northern United States. The historic Métis Nation had recognized Aboriginal title which the Government of Canada attempted to extinguish through the issuance of “scrip” and land grants in the late 19th and 20th centuries to individuals who were part of the Métis Nation. If you lack an ancestor who was part of this process (i.e. aboriginal/Métis), it is improbable that you would qualify as a Métis.
Perhaps the easiest way to determine Métis ancestry and connection to the Métis Nation, and ensure you have sufficient information for citizenship in the Métis nation, is through the collecting of official documentation for your Métis ancestors. This can be done by obtaining such documents as census records, Manitoba and North West half-breed scrip or land grant documents, and other official documents such as church records that provide evidence of connection to the Nation.
One place where you can start your search is at the Library and Archives Canada. As the custodian of records of our distant past and recent history, the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is a key resource for all Canadians who wish to gain a better understanding of who they are, individually and collectively. LAC acquires, processes, preserves and provides access to our documentary heritage and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions. This includes a vast volume of records pertaining to the Métis Nation and its historical citizens.
Some of the records available include:
Start your search at the Library and Archives of Canada...
Photo cred: Kevin Ma - IT'S LIKE THIS – Josh Morin (left) explains to Lac Ste Anne resident Bella Parry how she would introduce herself in Michif. The two were among the 20-odd people who are taking part in a Michif language conversation club running all summer at Michif Cultural Connections.
Juneau House was the site of a rare event this week: a crowd of strangers singing “Happy Birthday” in Michif.
It’s very easy to do, Michif language coach Graham Andrews told the crowd as they prepared to sing. “Happy birthday” is “Kwaayesh Tipishkuhm” (pronounced “Quai-esh deep shum”) and that’s the entirety of the song’s lyrics, get it? Ready, set –
And thus did 20-some people mark a young Métis man’s 25th birthday.
It was a festive atmosphere Wednesday night at Juneau House, home of Michif Cultural Connections in St. Albert. Participants from across central Alberta were at the inaugural meeting of a new conversation club meant to help people learn Michif – the traditional language of the Métis.
The idea for this club came out of the Michif language courses offered by St. Albert Further Education earlier this year, said Sharon Morin, programs director with Michif Cultural Connections. “As we were finishing up that course, there was a desire to keep it up over the summer, but not quite as formalized,” Morin said.
That led to the idea of holding a club that would meet every other Wednesday this summer at Juneau House to keep their skills sharp until the Michif courses start up again this fall, Morin said. The club also provides a way for people to share their knowledge of Métis culture.
Roots of language
Michif is a mix of French nouns, Cree verbs, Anishinaabe pronunciations and “all sorts of crazy grammatical rules that we’ve kept over the years,” said Andrews, who is one of the handful of fluent Michif speakers in the Edmonton region.
Statistics Canada estimates that just 1,210 Canadians can hold a conversation in Michif – equivalent to about 0.2 per cent of the Métis population. The UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger lists Michif as "critically endangered," which is one step above "extinct."
This is the result of Canada’s centuries-long attempt to wipe out Indigenous peoples through instruments such as the residential schools, where many Métis, including his relatives, were made to feel ashamed of their identity, Andrews said.
“...Our language and our culture are inseparable,” he said. As he put it to the group, “Lii Michif niyanaan” – “we are the Michif.”
READ MORE AT: https://www.stalberttoday.ca/local-news/michif-language-club-puts-metis-in-touch-with-roots-1518136
Efforts to save Michif, the traditional language of the Métis, have progressed to the point where it will now be taught to students at a Saskatoon elementary school.
Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools trustees voted Monday to approve the adoption of a Core Michif program at St. Michael Community School.
Samson LaMontagne, who helps teach Métis culture across the school division, gave trustees a brief overview of the history of Michif, which is largely a combination of various dialects of Cree and French.
LaMontagne said he teaches Heritage Michif, which is the most geographically spread out variant of the language and is based on a combination of Plains Cree and French.
He said Michif also has two other distinct branches, French Michif and Northern Michif. Northern Michif speakers are largely concentrated around Ile-à-la-Crosse, where the language is taught at Rossignol High School.
LaMontagne told trustees Michif is in danger of fading away as the remaining speakers age.
“If that were to occur, the Métis would lose not just a way to communicate, but also a specific worldview, cultural knowledge including religion, spirituality, oral traditions, harvesting strategies and healing techniques,” he said.
LaMontagne and others have been helping to bring Métis cultural programs to St. Michael’s as part of a partnership with the Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. (CUMFI) that began in 2015.
CUMFI president Shirley Isbister also spoke in favour of the Core Michif program. She said she’s been heartened to hear Michif phrases during visits to the school thanks to the cultural program, and she looks forward to hearing more.
“When I go to the schools and I see the children of different cultures and they’re speaking Michif, I think, ‘Holy, they’re better speakers than I am!’ And that makes me proud.”
She asked the trustees to approve the Core Michif program for St. Michael’s and begin thinking of having the school become fully bilingual in the longer term.
READ MORE AT https://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/saskatoon-elementary-school-gets-michif-language-program
The decision to declare a Métis identity doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you are part of the Métis Nation you have every right to claim that identity and to gain citizenship with the Métis Nation. But what about when that decision is based solely on the idea that “Métis=mixed”?
When the Métis National Council argues for the drawing of boundaries around Métis identity they do not do so to be exclusive. Rather, it is done to reflect a commitment to the Métis people recognizing their nationhood and national identity. However, many people who consider themselves Métis, but who do not meet the criteria of the MNC often object—usually in one of two ways. Their first objection is almost always rooted in the racialization of the word Métis. They will argue, “If someone wants to self-identify as Métis, who are you to suggest they can’t? Why do you think you own the term Métis?” They are passionate about this, but they cannot see beyond mere blood into the intricate world of culture, history, and family bonds, nor do they understand the foundations of sovereignty under which each nation is afforded the right to determine who is and who isn’t a member of their community. Simply being similar isn’t enough. That would be like a Cree deciding they wanted to call themselves Mi'kmaq simply because both groups are Indian and having Indian blood is enough to make that claim.
The second argument is that it is unfair for those with indigenous ancestors to be excluded—especially given the fact that their plight of being unrecognized isn’t their fault, but rather is the fault of colonial racist policies and discrimination by dominant society. They say, “Who are you do deny us? We suffered and we too are indigenous“. They make their appeal based on the denial of their identity by the government and their demand for fundamental justice. However, what obligation does the MNC or any Métis Nation citizen owe them? Sure their ancestors might have been dispossessed Indigenous individuals—possibly even communities. However, just being a mixed-blood who was dispossessed or denied doesn’t make you a Métis. Just because you are unrecognized, have an indigenous ancestor, and claim indigenous identity does not give you the right to claim to be Métis. Métis identity is not something you claim simply because it seems like the only possible option?
Whatever we imagine a fair response to the unrecognized mixed-blood indigenous people of the east to be, any response must always be preceded with the fact that “Métis” refers to a distinct nation and not a catch-all for anyone with mixed-ancestry. It is a nation with membership codes that deserve to be respected. The MNC is not a place to put every disenfranchised mixed-blood person hurt by past and present Indian policy. Certainly we should sympathize with those who are the victims of colonial injustice and dispossession, but it is not our responsibility and we cannot be expected to include them at expense of eviscerating our identity and sovereignty.
The unfortunate reality of colonialism is that for centuries, non-Indigenous have chosen how indigenous people were defined. They still do this. However, those people who use the term “Métis” rather than “person of mixed ancestry” to incorrectly identify themselves are not decolonizing. They are choosing to use the colonialist definition for the term Métis to mean mixed-blood, rather than the indigenous definition which connotes the distinct and sovereign Métis Nation. Sure, Métis is a much more dignified term than simply saying that you are mixed-blood indigenous, however it is not an ethical choice to call yourself that—especially if you join one of the many new “organizations” claiming to be legitimate Métis communities. By doing so you are choosing a racialized, rather than Indigenous identity that actively harms the Métis Nation and other indigenous communities. It also helps reproduce and re-entrench racism, because if just anyone can claim to be Métis based on Métis=mixed then claiming Métis means nothing, because it falls back into the European settler idea of classifying people, rather than recognizing indigenous sovereignty.
The indigenous thing for you to do is to drop the use of the word Métis and to find and recapture your true indigenous identity. You must continue to challenge colonialism and fight for your own individual rights as indigenous people. However, you should do this on your own terms and not by infringing on the Métis Nation. Then you might find allies where you now have adversaries.
A newly released website that provides a listing of groups claiming to represent Metis people in eastern Canada and the New England region of the United States has caused some consternation among some of the groups who are listed.
Although the information linked to, and provided on the page includes readily available websites, court cases, and other information freely viewed on the worldwide web, some of these groups have taken offense to being included in this ignoble database that calls into question their validity as indigenous.
The website, www.raceshifting.com states its sourcing of information as follows:
This website is a resource for people who are concerned with or want to find out more about the rise of the so-called “Eastern Metis” in the eastern provinces (Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) and in New England (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine)...
The website [also] includes all of the publicly-available court documents (expert reports, testimony, interviews, membership records) that have been submitted in several of the key “Eastern Métis” court cases in Québec.
Much of the material is analyzed in Darryl Leroux’s book Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity, which will be available by mid-September 2019.
Metis Nation News will follow this story as it develops and if possible will obtain copies of any complaints issued by supposed Metis organizations to the authors of the website.
Colonizers Ironically Form Committee to Determine if Their Own Historical Suffering was Genocide, Completely Ignoring the Historical and Current Genocide Committed Against Aboriginal People
The Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick, an advocacy group that advocates for the rights of Francophones and Acadians, is forming a committee to look at whether the historicalexpulsion of Acadians should be considered a genocide.
The CBC reports that the lobbying group decided to look into the controversial issue during its annual general meeting over the weekend.
"It's just an event that has been so important in our national identity or our cultural identity," said Eric Dow, of the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick.
Shockingly, the creation of the committee comes just weeks after a national inquiry for missing and murdered Indigenous women called the epidemic of crimes against indigenous women a "Canadian genocide" - a claim than many colonizers were offended by due to rampant feelings of fragility and a general disregard for indigenous people.
In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Daniels v. Canada (Indian Affairs and Northern Development) that Métis and non-status Indians are considered Indians under s. 91(24) of the 1982 Constitution.
So what does this actually mean for the Métis Nation and its citizens, and what does it mean for those people in Eastern Canada claiming to be Métis?
In a nutshell, the Daniels Decision says that Métis and non-status Indians are legally “Indians” under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. This means they now fall under the federal government’s jurisdiction for various programs and actions.
The ruling makes it possible for the Federal Government to work directly with Métis and non-status Indians (as members of their particular communities) in ways that weren't possible before the ruling. While it doesn't necessarily create a new fiduciary or consultation mandate (one already exists between Indigenous communities and Canada), it does create an avenue for funding to be allocated directly from the Federal Government to Métis and non-status Indian communities
One thing that the Daniels Decision does not do is confer "status" or recognition of every individual claiming to be Métis or non-status Indian. Aboriginal/Indian status (or in this case Métis and non-status Indian status) is generally NOT an individual identity. Rather, it is a community identity that is conferred upon members of that community, which is recognized by the Federal Government as having a provable historical and contemporary existence as a verified indigenous community.
The government cannot be expected to work directly with every individual claiming to be Métis or non-status Indian, and it cannot be expected to verify or vet everyone claiming to be covered under the Daniels Decision. Therefore, things like program funding or educational assistance that may be granted to Métis and non-status Indians post-Daniels probably won't be allocated directly to individuals. Rather, funding will be allocated to organizations and communities who are verifiable as Indigenous, with the apportionment of funds and programs determined by the communities themselves.
This aspect of the ruling might seem unfair to some Métis and non-status Indians who claim indigenous status based on genealogical connections to (often) unverified ancestors (e.g. "eastern Métis"), but without some measure of control, the application of Daniels would be impossible.
It's possible to be registered as Métis in one of the regional organizations (MNO, MMF, MNS, MNA, or MNBC).
Due to the 2003, the Supreme Court of Canada judgement in R. v. Powley, a new definition was set forth, formalizing the components of a Métis definition for the purpose of claiming Aboriginal rights under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. These are:
• Self-identification as a member of a Métis community.
• Ancestral connection to the historic Métis community whose practices ground the right in question
• Acceptance by the modern community with continuity to the historic Métis community.
As such, to be registered as Métis, you must apply to the Métis Registry operated by the MNC Governing Member in the province in which you reside. The guidelines for each vary slightly to accommodate regional nuances, but all follow the following agreed on criterion:
When you apply for citizenship as a Métis, you will receive a letter of acceptance and will be eligible for a citizenship card, with the right to vote and receive certain services related to your citizenship. You also might be eligible for harvesting rights.
While most people who are Métis are accepted as citizens when they apply, some other people who believe they are Métis, due to a genealogical search that shows they have an aboriginal ancestor, might not qualify. While everyone has the right to self-identify as whatever they want to identify as, simply having an aboriginal ancestor doesn't necessarily make you Métis.
For instance, if a person derives their aboriginal ancestry and community history outside the historic Métis Nation homeland, chances are that they won't qualify as Métis when they apply. This can be heartbreaking, but it's just the way it is.
So what happens if you believe you have an aboriginal ancestor and are Métis, but don't qualify according to the MNC criterion? In some cases, you can appeal the finding of the provincial Métis registry. This option is a way to present more evidence, but it doesn't necessarily mean that your evidence will be found acceptable.
Below is one such case, where a person who believed themselves to be Métis applied for citizenship, but was turned down due to lack of evidence. While they were found to have aboriginal ancestry, that ancestry was not linked to the historic Métis Nation. This individual appealed, but their appeal was denied.