For the South Peace News
‘Darrel’s Bobcat Service,’ owned by Darrel Laboucan, won the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) – Region 5, Business of the Year Award, 2019.
Laboucan started in business in the spring of 1988, working for a number of years at East Prairie Metis Settlement.
Over the years, Laboucan worked for many of the municipalities and institutions in the region. He cites the MD of Smoky River and Holy Family Catholic Regional Division as always being supportive.
His first big job was at the McLennan Hospital and Laboucan says he was grateful for that opportunity as they hired him through the entire project, from start to finish.
He also worked for Larry Lamoureux with the Town of McLennan and says that Lamoureux always treated him fairly, hiring him to plant trees and for bobcat work.
These days, Laboucan’s work often takes him to some areas north of Smoky River, such as Grimshaw, Peace River, and east to Red Earth, Keewatin Tribal Council Education, Lubicon Lake Band, Cadotte Lake Band, often being called to these locations to install chain link fences, a skill for which Laboucan is greatly in demand.
On “Darrel’s Bobcat Service,” receiving the MNA Region 5, Business of the Year Award, Laboucan says he must share the honour with his wife of thirty-five years, who has always stood by him.
He also said he would like “to take his hat off,” to Nora Chapdelaine for nominating him, how she has always been welcoming and friendly when he runs into her and that she is never “afraid to share strong Métis knowledge and speak her tongue.”
Laboucan praised the MNA’s new Regional Vice President, Dan Cardinal, for being very helpful in getting him to Edmonton for the awards.”
The Métis Nation of Alberta is comprised of six regional areas. Each area has a regional council consisting of a President and Vice-President and council members from within the region. The Region 5 Council is situated in Slave Lake.
The MNA’s mission is “to pursue the advancement of the socio-economic and cultural well-being of the Métis people of Alberta.”
MNC president shares concerns about self-government agreements signed in Ottawa: APTN News Interview
Published on Jul 2, 2019
The president of the Metis National Council has concerns with three self-government agreements signed in Ottawa, last week. The presidents of the Metis organizations in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta signed the agreements with Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett on Thursday. For more, MNC President Clément Chartier joins host APTN National News Host Dennis Ward.
The presidents of the Metis organizations in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta signed the agreements with Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett on Thursday.
For more, MNC President Clément Chartier joins host APTN National News Host Dennis Ward.
In an effort to gain some measure of relevance in the wake of the self-government agreements signed between three of the Metis Nation provincial affiliates and the Government of Canada, a group claiming to represent Metis people has declared that it will be signing the 7th modern "treaty" between their self-declared "nation" and another recently formed group in New Brunswick.
The group, calling itself the "Metis Nation of Canada" (or MNOC) states on its Facebook page that they are signing their 7th partnership treaty on July 12, 2019 with the Metis Nation of Saint-John, N.B. Self-declared Chiefs Karole Dumont and Albert Chaisson are inviting their "citizens" to join them at a yet undisclosed location to attend the signing.
The practice of newly formed groups claiming to represent mixed-blood people is a recent phenomenon that seems to have the purpose of trying to self-legitimize by recognizing each other, since their respective provinces and the federal government have not recognized their claims, despite numerous failed court cases and ignored requests to meet with the government. Further, most Metis people do not view them as being part of the Metis Nation itself. Just last fall, the Metis National Council signed a Memorandum of Agreement condemning these groups with the Mi'kmaq people of Nova Scotia.
Other newly formed groups claiming to represent metis people have signed similar treaties. The Metis Federation of Canada (MFC) - another unrecognized group claiming to represent all Metis people "from coast to coast to coast" - signed three treaties with other groups as publicity events to promote their cause.
Some of these groups even sign treaties with unrecognized groups in the United States, such as one newly formed group in Oregon, USA, who claims to represent any mixed-blooded persons who wants to enroll in their "nation". The Una Nation, formed by a single nuclear family and presided over by a self-styled “king”, claims that it is recognized as a legitimate nation on the basis of signing treaties with the Eastern Woodland Metis Nation Nova Scotia and the Metis Nation of Canada (MNOC). Most recently, this group offered US Senator Elizabeth Warren enrollment in their tribe based on her family story and DNA test showing she had a possible distant ancestor who was Indian.
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.