METIS + NON-STATUS PEOPLE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA Children of Contact WHAT IS A MÉTIS? • Winnipeg-based filmmaker, Janelle Wookey explains the definition of a Métis. Her brother, Jérémie Wookey is her cameraman. • 4:01 minutes • http://www.cbc.ca/8thfire/2012/01/what-is- a-metis.html The Metis Nation has many symbolic flags which evolved over time. This particular flag has a blue background with a white infinity symbol that has two meanings: The joining of two cultures. The existence of a people forever. CATEGORIZATION • One of the negative legacies in Canada is the division of Aboriginals into categories. • The Indian Act labelled First Nations as “Status” and “Non-Status” – this did not change the depth of their identities, but changed the way mainstream Canadian society viewed them. CATEGORIZATION • Moreover, through its policies, the government perpetuated the notion that there were only two major groups of First Nations people in Canada: First Nations and Inuit. CATEGORIZATION • Only in 1982, with repatriation of the Constitution, were Métis included as the third Aboriginal people. MÉTIS IN CANADA • In 2011, 451,795 people in Canada identified as Métis. • They represented 32.3% of the total Aboriginal population and 1.4% of the total Canadian population. MÉTIS IN CANADA • Most Métis people today are not the direct result of intermarriage between First Nations and Europeans. • The vast majority of those who identify as Métis are the descendants of unions between generations of Métis individuals. MIXED ROOTS • How did these mixed roots come to be? MIXED ROOTS • The colonization of BC and the rest of Canada was dependent on resourcebased industries, such as the fur trade and the gold rush, which resulted in many mixed unions/families, usually with a First Nations mother and a non-Aboriginal (European) father. MIXED ROOTS • The roots of the Métis Nation mostly lie in the fur trade (HBC + NWC). • French, Scottish, Irish, and English traders married/had relationships with First Nations women. MIXED ROOTS • Many of the NWC employees were encouraged to marry Native women, known as “country wives,” who were essential to the fur trade. • HBC employees initially were forbidden to marry Native women = “country marriages”. MIXED ROOTS • The early mothers were usually Mi'kmaq, Algonquin, Salteaux, Cree, Ojibway, Menominee, or Maliseet, or of mixed descent from these peoples and Europeans. MIXED ROOTS • What were the effects of these policies on Aboriginal women and their families/children? MIXED ROOTS EFFECTS • After New France was ceded to Britain's control, there was an important distinction between French Métis born of francophone voyageur fathers, and the AngloMétis (known as "countryborn") descended from English, Irish or Scottish fathers. MIXED ROOTS EFFECTS • Their cultural heritage is a mix of customs - Métis tradition - but were/are especially influenced by French and First Nations. MIXED ROOTS EFFECTS • These children had their feet in both worlds, and the knowledge and skills they gained from their separate cultures of their parents was advantageous in BC’s early days. MIXED ROOTS EFFECTS • As immigration began to swell in BC, the children and grandchildren of mixed families became marginalized and often invisible as a unique culture. • Half-breed became a term of shame. MIXED ROOTS EFFECTS • Some children were accepted by their First Nations relatives and became part of that community. • Many other, however, felt rejected by both worlds. CHILDREN OF CONTACT • The Métis and Non-Status people are in many ways the “Children of Contact,” since they are mostly descended from mixed unions and our an important part of our heritage. • Métis families and communities were recognized as early as the 1600s. MARGINALIZATION • However, the contributions of these families and their children of the building of Canada have often gone unrecognized. • It is safe to say that many Métis have been marginalized by and in Canadian society. THE EAST • In eastern Canada, most Métis trace their ancestry to the earliest colonizers. • Yet, apparently there are no “Métis” in eastern Canada, since their ancestors did not identify as Métis communities. THE EAST • “Labrador Métis” for example, have dropped Métis for this reason and instead prefer a term their ancestors used to define themselves: NunatuKavut. THE EAST • The first small-m métis communities emerged during the Great Lakes fur trade in the 18th century; French fur traders established family connections through marriage and ceremonial adoption with prominent Aboriginal families in the region. THE PRAIRIES • On the Prairies, a distinct culture developed, with its own language, culture and customs. • The battles of the people (i.e. The Red River Rebellion, The Northwest Rebellion) for the recognition of their culture under the leadership of Louis Riel were significant events in history. THE PRAIRIES • Distinct communities grew up on the Prairies near the fur trading posts. • Métis provided food for forts, becoming expert buffalo hunters. THE PRAIRIES • A unique language evolved called Michif. • Michif is the language of the Métis that blends ancestral languages to create a new language; there are several dialects and the most well-known blends Cree, French and English. THE PRAIRIES • Today Michif is considered an endangered language as there are fewer than 1,000 fluent speakers, most of them in the Prairie provinces of Canada and the USA. THE PRAIRIES • A unique life-style evolved as well, combining fiddle music of the French and Scottish with the First nations skills and knowledge of managing resources of the land. • The roots have a distinctive cultural appeal. THE PRAIRIES • The woven sashes - Métis sash - became an emblem, and the beadwork which was inspired by First Nations and European design became highly regarded. • The Métis sash was traditionally made with a finger weaving technique used by First Nations of Ontario. THE PRAIRIES • The governments of Manitoba and Saskatchewan have created the Order of the Sash, which recognizes the achievements of Métis individuals. THE PRAIRIES • Other Aboriginal groups referred to the Métis as “the flower-beadwork people” because of their elaborately adorned clothing and belongings, such as embroidered gun sheaths and beaded pipe bags. THE PRAIRIES • A well-defined democratic political system as fostered by the Métis in the Prairies. • The Métis had become a unique people and a distinct nation. THE PRAIRIES • In 1811 the HBC, with Lord Selkirk, began the Red River Settlement in what is now Manitoba. • The export of pemmican was outlawed; only for the settlement - The Pemmican Proclamation of 1814. THE PRAIRIES • The Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816 (between some settlers and the Métis) was a protest that unified the Métis Nation and proved the members could speak up for their rights. THE PRAIRIES • In 1869 HBC sold Rupert’s Land (including the Red River Colony) to Canada without the consultation of Métis or First Nations inhabitants. • Louis Riel led the Métis in protest – they saw this move as taking away their rights to land. THE PRAIRIES • Surveyors where sent out by Governor William McDougall to plot out a township. THE PRAIRIES • Under Riel, the Métis created a provisional government (temporary government) in Red River and drew up a list of demands including making Manitoba a province and protecting Métis lands. THE PRAIRIES • Meanwhile, Riel's men arrested members of a pro-Canadian faction who had resisted the provisional government; they included an Orangeman named Thomas Scott; Riel's government tried and convicted Scott, and executed him for threatening to murder Louis Riel. THE PRAIRIES • This became known as the 1869 Red River Rebellion/Resistance/Uprising. THE PRAIRIES • After reaching an agreement with the Métis, Canada sent a military expedition to Manitoba to enforce federal authority. Now known as the Wolseley Expedition (or Red River Expedition. THE PRAIRIES • Outrage grew in Ontario over Scott's execution, and many eastern folk demanded that Wolseley's expedition arrest Riel for murder and suppress what they considered to be rebellion. THE PRAIRIES • Riel peacefully withdrew from Fort Garry the day the troops arrived; he was warned by many that the soldiers would harm him, and denied amnesty for his political leadership of the rebellion, Riel fled to the USA. • The arrival of troops marked the end of the Red River Resistance. THE PRAIRIES • The people soon realized that despite the law, their rights were not going to be honoured by the federal government. • Many left Manitoba (in Red River Carts) and moved west where they could continue their traditional lifestyle but without a land base. THE PRAIRIES • Saskatchewan became the focus of Métis society during the 1870s. • Also during this time the buffalo on which they depended for food was near to extinction. THE PRAIRIES • By 1885, the Métis and First Nations were starving. • The government was doing nothing to help them. • They called Louis Riel back from exile. THE PRAIRIES • Under the combined leadership of Riel and Gabriel Dumont, he Métis and the First Nations people mustered a force to take military action again the federal government; this has become known as the Riel Rebellion or the Northwest Rebellion of 1885. THE PRAIRIES • It took place in northwestern Saskatchewan, near the settlements of Duck Lake and Batoche. • After initial wins by the Aboriginal forces, the Canadian government crushed the rebellion. THE PRAIRIES • Prime Minister John A. MacDonald had Riel was arrested for treason and tried. • He was found guilty and was hanged on November 16, 1885. THE PRAIRIES • In Canadian parliament, future PM Wilfrid Laurier defended Riel and Métis. • The aftershocks still reverberate today. BRITISH COLUMBIA • After 1885, the Métis families migrated west, many to northeastern BC - Peace River/ Dawson Creek area – and founded in 1893 Kelly Lake, the only Métis community in BC. • After WWII, some Métis from the Prairies moved to BC. BRITISH COLUMBIA • In BC, the struggle for Métis and Non-Status people took a different path. • So overt was the racism in BC, and the lack of acknowledgement and rights, that many kept their Aboriginal heritage secret. BRITISH COLUMBIA • People speak of the “lost generation” = those who felt compelled to hide their identity. BRITISH COLUMBIA • A renewed drive to organize for political action came in 1968 with the creation of the BC Association of Non-Status Indians (BCANSI). BRITISH COLUMBIA • The goal of BCANSI was to improve the opportunities for Non-Status Aboriginals and Métis in BC by increasing access to education. • It began largely through the efforts on one individual, H.A. “Butch” Smitheram. BRITISH COLUMBIA • At the same time as BCANSI was growing, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs was establishing. • The two bodies became dominant voices of Aboriginal politics in BC. BRITISH COLUMBIA • At first, attempts were made to unify both Métis and Non-Status under the umbrella of the British Columbia Association of NonStatus Indians and later the United Native Nations Society. BRITISH COLUMBIA • By the mid-1970s, BCANSI evolved into a different type of organization. • It sought to unite Status and Non-Status people, and its name changed to the United Native Nations in 1976; the founding president was Bill Wilson. BRITISH COLUMBIA • The Native Council of Canada changed too and is now called the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. • It continues to advocate for Métis and Non- Status people. BRITISH COLUMBIA • Following the recognition of the Métis in the 1982 Constitution, the Métis National Council was created in 1983. • It is recognized by provincial and federal governments as the governing body representing the Métis Nation at the national and international levels. BRITISH COLUMBIA • The Métis Provincial Council of BC (MPCBC) is the elected governing organization of the Métis people in our province. • Among its many roles, it acts as the political representative for its members to governments and funding agencies and advocates for its members. MÉTIS DEFINED • What are the origins of the word Métis? MÉTIS DEFINED • Métis means “mixed” French. • Such mixed-race people were referred to by other terms, many of which are now considered to be offensive, such as Mixedbloods, Half-breeds, Bois-Brûlés, Bungi, Black Scots, and Jackatars. MÉTIS DEFINED • There are generally two meanings: 1. The broad definition = anyone of mixed heritage could be Métis. MÉTIS DEFINED 2. The narrow meaning = as defined and voted upon by the Métis National Council in 2002; linked to Red River ancestry. WHO IS MÉTIS? • What are the implications of this definition? WHO IS MÉTIS? • The identification of who is Métis is controversial. • The words Métis and Non-Status are both used to describe a people of mixed lineage, although there have been different interpretations of the definitions of “Status” and “Non-Status”. WHO IS MÉTIS? • Aboriginal people have always held the notion of self-identification as the key to their identity. • Two elements, self-identification and community acceptance, were agreed on, but the third key element regarding ancestry was not. WHO IS MÉTIS? • Some people believed that anyone with mixed lineage could be Métis, while others believed Métis heritage was linked to the original Red River settlements in Manitoba. WHO IS MÉTIS? • At the Métis National Council Annual Assembly in September 2002, the delegates voted unanimously to link the definition to Red River ancestry. • The implications of this decisions has brought both challenges and opportunities to Métis and Non-Status people. WHO IS MÉTIS? • Since the recognition of Métis Non-Status identity in the 1982 Constitution, they both have organized councils to promote culture, to have their role in Canadian history recognized, and to work towards attaining rights that have been denied. WHO IS MÉTIS? • Métis leaders knew that to achieve full recognition of their identity and rights, a specific and widely accepted definition of Métis would be necessary; they voted unanimously for this change in 2002. WHO IS MÉTIS? • Pursuing Métis land claims in the Prairie provinces was one of the driving forces to shape a definition of Métis to the homelands. WHO IS MÉTIS? • For the “Red River” people – those who trace their ancestors back to the original families who were given scrip – it means a stronger and more unified voice in political, economic, social and cultural realms. WHO IS MÉTIS? • Scrip or Land Scrip was a certificate that was issued to Manitoba Métis families entitling them to 240 acres or money for the purchase of land, issued in compensation for lands lost by the Métis after the Northwest Rebellion. WHO IS MÉTIS? • For other of mixed lineage who do not fit the new definition, it will undoubtedly create a number of feelings, including confusion and anger, as some feel the definition is exclusionary. MÉTIS RIGHTS • The Métis seek rights in two areas: land and resource rights + self-government rights. • They seek greater control of their own lives within the broader Canadian society. MÉTIS RIGHTS • They seek a land base in the Prairie provinces or compensation for the lands they once owned but lost through development. MÉTIS RIGHTS • The implications of the definition and these rights of Métis will bring both challenges and opportunities to Métis and Non-Status people in the coming years. MÉTIS DEFINED • What do you think of the “new” definition of Métis? • What are the benefits and the challenges?