Written by Isabelle Hachey (@ihachey) for La Presse
It was while reading the newspaper last week that I discovered a secret.
You know, the Indigenous ancestor of Marie-Josée Parent, who was introduced to us as the first Indigenous councillor in the history of the City of Montréal when she was elected in 2017, is also ... mine.
This ancestor, Michel Haché dit Gallant (1663-1737), is indeed the patriarch of all Haché - and linked names such as Hachey, Hachez, Aché, etc. - from Acadia.
But there’s a rumour about his father Michel. It is said that his father, who came straight from France, married an "Indian". Although ... maybe not.
For a long time, this man’s origins have divided Acadian genealogists. "The issue of Michel Haché's Indigenous blood is still uncertain," we read in [the Moncton-based newspaper] L'Acadie Nouvelle in 2016.
But whatever! This potential Indigenous ancestor, who lived three centuries ago, was enough for [city] councillor Marie-Josée Parent to claim to be a member of the Mi'kmaw community.
Until last week, she was responsible for reconciliation between the City of Montreal and Indigenous peoples.
Before being elected, she was Co-Chair of the Montreal Indigenous Community’s Urban Strategy Network.
She was also the Executive Director of DestiNations, a subsidized organization that sought to establish an Indigenous Cultural Embassy in Montréal.
For years, Marie-Josée Parent pulled the wool over our eyes. The media, [some] Indigenous people, the government, her colleagues, the mayor, elected officials, her constituents.
Let's be clear: she’s no more Indigenous than me.
Let's be even clearer: she lied knowingly about her origins.
She pretended to be what she isn’t in order to create and run an "Indigenous" organization, then was elected and landed a senior position on the City's Executive Committee.
Once there, it’s not only cultural appropriation, it's identity theft. It's trickery.
And she gets away with a slap on the wrists.
According to the official version, Marie-Josée Parent herself decided to abandon her job involving reconciliation last week, when her Indigenous origins were questioned by two genealogists.
To avoid causing unnecessary distraction, we were told.
"It demonstrates her good faith and sensitivity around these issues of identity," said Mayor Valérie Plante.
Her good faith? Sorry, but I don’t subscribe to that.
Her sensitivity? Even less so!
In 2017, Marie-Josée Parent told La Presse that her mother was Acadian and that her father was Mi’kmaq. "I was raised in this culture, with these values and this vision of the world. "
Except that ... the councillor was raised in Gatineau. And that her father isn’t Mi’kmaq.
The genealogist Éric Pouliot-Thisdale traced her paternal lineage back to the early days of New France. The only Indigenous ancestor (or not) he discovered there was Michel Haché.
The genealogist posted the results of his research on his blog. The media seized on it.
Marie-Josée Parent immediately presented herself as a victim. On CBC, she complained about being the target of "genealogical violence."
As far as I know, Éric Pouliot-Thisdale only explained the truth. It can be humiliating, it can hurt, but the elected official should’ve thought of all that beforehand.
Far from apologizing, the councillor denied the evidence. She argued that Pouliot-Thisdale’s research was "only partially correct," but declined to say how it contained errors.
It's all too easy.
Marie-Josée Parent contented herself with a communiqué to "explain" - a very big word indeed - that her feelings of belonging to the Mi'kmaq nation "emerge from her family’s oral tradition."
So yes, you know, at Christmas parties, when your uncle told you that there was "Indian blood" in the family?
It seems that Marie-Josée Parent has taken this Québécois myth, tenacious but unfounded, a little too literally.
Mayor Valérie Plante didn’t verify Parent’s Indigenous origins when she offered her a position on the Executive Committee.
It’s hard to imagine the mayor asking elected officials for a copy of their family tree. As it’s difficult to imagine an employer requiring a DNA test of its employees. It’s a slippery slope that everybody wants to avoid.
However, reflection is necessary. Perhaps we should start demanding some form of proof from those who proclaim themselves to be “Métis” because it has become an epidemic. The phenomenon has exploded over the past ten years.
The number of "Métis" in Québec jumped by 149% between the 2006 and 2016 censuses. There’s no logic to it. No birth booms among the “Métis.” In fact, there isn’t even a recognized “Métis” community in the province!
The only explanation is that thousands of white individuals suddenly declared themselves to be Indigenous. Some people discovered a vague ancestor and bingo, they say they’re “Métis.” Others haven’t even made that much effort.
They simply ticked a box. Not much more complicated than that. It's enough to feel Indigenous... The phenomenon is so popular that it has even been given a name: race-shifting, in English.
One wears a fringed coat, a tight necklace around the neck and feathered earrings. We order a dream catcher made in China on Amazon.
We join a phony community that issues a phony "status card" that saves us taxes from uninformed merchants.
We claim “ancestral” hunting and fishing territories [and rights].
We even invent an "Indian" name - Bear, Blue Eagle, Seven Crows - and we travel to Europe with crystals and healing plants to boom-boom on an [Indigenous] drum.
We call ourselves "Elders" and we get lucrative contracts in federal penitentiaries to help Indigenous inmates reconnect with their spirituality.
We do all of this without any fear of ridicule. We claim rights and privileges ... without ever, in our lives, having faced racism, the trauma of residential schools or the human tragedies that still tear too many Indigenous communities apart in Québec.
This cynical sham has lasted long enough.
(Translated by Darryl Leroux (@DarrylLeroux), author of Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity)
Translated from CBC Radio [Original Article HERE]
Genealogy researchers question the Aboriginal ancestry of Councilor Marie-Josée Parent, “the first Aboriginal elected official in the City of Montreal,” who claims to be a “Metis” of Mi’kmaq and Acadian descent. This accusation is categorically denied by the politician, who has decided to withdraw from the reconciliation file entrusted to her by the mayor last year.
Elected in November 2017 under the banner of Team Coderre, the city councilor in the borough of Verdun joined the ranks of the Montreal Project party this year.
In August 2018, she was entrusted with the issue of reconciliation with indigenous peoples by joining the executive committee of Valérie Plante's administration. Reconciliation has always been one of her priorities when she entered politics, she told Radio-Canada in an interview.
Parent, who worked before her election in various Montreal Aboriginal cultural organizations, has always said publicly that her mother is Acadian and her father Mi’kmaq. “I was raised in this culture, with these values and this vision of the world,” she told La Presse when she was elected two years ago.
However, genealogy researcher Éric Pouliot-Thisdale found no indigenous ancestry in her father’s lineage. The former contributor to Kahnawake's The Eastern Door recently researched the family tree of Parent to the earliest ancestors of France using data from public archives. According to his research, one of her father’s ancestors, Michel Haché-Gallant (1663-1737), had been the subject of rumors about an alleged Métis ancestry. But this information has been denied by parish registers, Thisdale says.
"You see a form of opportunism in all of this, and it's very obvious," says the Innu and Mohawk-born historian, who says he is acting for the public good. "The idea wasn't to point the finger at a particular person, but it's one example among others of people or organizations in Montreal that are providing services to Aboriginal people by calling themselves Aboriginal and are not.”
Researcher Dominique Ritchot also separately researched Parent’s family tree - the maternal and paternal lineages. Although she found no aboriginal ancestry on the paternal side, she found a Mi’kmaq ancestor on the maternal side, in the previous 12th generation.
"Lots of Quebecers say they have a Native American grandmother. And often you go back in line and realize that it's either not true, or it's in the 12th generation," says Ritchot who is a coordinator at the French Canadian Genealogical Society. Ritchot recalls that in Quebec, the civil registry "is complete from 1621 to 2019." Original baptism or marriage certificates, military documents... "All documents are public, nothing is hidden. You have to be extremely unlucky to be unable to identify someone who has set foot in New France.”
Parent believes that the findings of the two genealogy researchers are "inaccurate." Parent said, "There are elements in the family tree that don't fit with what you have as a document," without wanting to go into detail about what is wrong with Ritchot and Thisdale’s findings. Parent did acknowledge that does not know which community her family comes from, nor does she have a status card.
In her defense, Parent stated that the review of her ancestry constitutes a "form of genealogical violence that is not part of traditional practices". She continued, "Our identities to me and my sister go beyond a family tree," she says.
Marie-Josée's sister, André-Yanne Parent, has also worked for various organizations that support Aboriginal communities, including Youth Fusion and DestiNATIONS. She tried her luck in municipal politics in 2013.
In the wake of the accusations, the 36-year-old Parent said she had made the decision to withdraw from the reconciliation file.
"My intention was never to offend anyone," Parent said, also announcing that she has chosen not to "publicly identify" as Aboriginal. However, she will remain a city councilor.
The issue of self-identification is particularly sensitive in Quebec and the Maritime provinces, where the number of people calling themselves Aboriginal or Métis has exploded in the latest Statistics Canada censuses.
"Sometimes it's stories that happen in the family or there's a founding myth in an Acadian or Quebec population," says Darryl Leroux, a professor at St Mary’s University in Nova Scotia, who has written extensively on the issue of "self-indigenization”. He estimates that about 200,000 people identify as Métis in Quebec and the Maritimes, a figure that has only grown since various Supreme Court decisions, including Aboriginal rights.
In Winnipeg, the self-proclaimed Huron-Wendat identity of a city councilor, Sherri Rollins, was questioned last year by Aboriginal people and genealogists. They found that she was not a member of any Aboriginal community.
A recent letter to the Editor in the Cape Breton Post shows the mental gymnastics required to explain the "hidden" nature of Métis want-to-be in Eastern Canada.
Letter to the Editor
I am an eastern Métis Nation indigenous native Indian.
As it is well known, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party gave the Métis in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta their status rights on July 1, 2019.
I am of French and Mi’kmaq ancestry, but there are many different Metis and nationalities on the East coast of Canada. We have native blood and heritage and we are very proud of this.
Unfortunately, Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal party, all other political parties and indigenous native chiefs show disrespect and prejudice against our people.
My question is when will eastern Métis Nations peoples receive the rights that we deserve and respect for our heritage that we are so proud of.
My ancestors were not allowed to say they were Métis and were called unflattering names and treated like animals.
(Member of the Eastern Metis Nation)
MMF Applauds Harvester Card Decision for Mi'kmaq Nation
September 26, 2019
Winnipeg MB - Today the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is applauding the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs (ANSMC) for creating a system of ID cards for those who qualify for treaty hunting and fishing rights in the province.
“First and foremost, I want to congratulate the ANSMC for this historic step in self-governance,” said MMF President David Chartrand. “These harvester cards help to ancestrally connect the First Peoples of Nova Scotia and identify who truly qualifies to exercise traditional practices. Rules and laws pertaining to this issue are not new to Indigenous Nations in Canada. We have been practicing these indigenous laws both orally and in writing for centuries.”
The Harvester Card system in Nova Scotia mirrors the one created by the MMF in 2004 as part of its Constitution. The Metis Harvesting Initiative was the first of its kind in Canada. It includes a Harvest Registration, ID Cards, a Metis Conservation Trust Fund, a Metis Management System, and Metis Laws of the Harvest. The Initiative guarantees the harvesting rights for Metis Citizens on their traditional homeland.
“This system also clears up any misconceptions about who has true ancestral rights to harvest,” said President Chartrand. “I have been very concerned about some hunters in the Maritimes using questionable ID, including those who identify as Metis. This new system ensures that people with no inherent rights to these natural resources, will have to stop trying to take advantage of the system.”
“This new Harvesting system now takes that agreement one step further,” added President Chartrand. “Not only does this clear the air about who has the right to harvest, it also confirms that so-called Eastern Metis do not have any claim to ancestral connections to Eastern Canada. There is only one Metis Nation, and it is NOT located on the eastern shores of this country.”
For media information, please contact:
Director - Communications
Manitoba Metis Federation
Office: (204) 586-8474 x324
Cell: (204) 806-4752
By: Lela Savic, Metro