I’m still obsessing over questions regarding identity, community, kinship and blood-quantum in my own quest to reclaim my own identity.
In my previous post, I wrote about my kinship to Louis Riel, whose father, along with many other Lanaudois traveled West in search of a place to remain “Gens Libres” – Freemen. There is no doubt in my mind, and I have provided in previous posts empirical evidence that the concept of Métis predates the Red River and may well have been born in Lanaudière, amongst the Riel, Dubois, Parenteau, Lagimodière…
I’m also meeting so many interesting people along the way who are experiencing a similar internal questioning. What strikes me most is the battle for identity is so personal and a very intimate journey, yet is so overshadowed by a public battle over land and hunting rights. And this war is leaving deep wounds. Inclusion to an official Indigenous Membership vs Settling in with the Settlers.
So – Academics and Policy Makers, be kind. There are people being hurt, no matter how the pie is sliced. Don’t be an insensitive douche when extolling the virtues of your opinion. Everyone’s reality is as real as yours. Remember the bias of perception.
That being said: I don’t know who has the “right” to call oneself Métis. It is not for me to say. But I sure as hell know that I do. The word Métis comes from the very region where I’m from. Like the Riel, Dubois, Lagimodière, Parenteau, etc..etc…etc… Believe me – or don’t – but we called ourselves Métis before 1982; we called ourselves Métis before 1885. I won’t be cruel to kin (even if they are to us) and accuse THEM of appropriation. But I’d like to invite them to examine the facts.
I can’t predict which way the Daniels Appeal will pan out (if it happens). I can’t predict if the discussion with the Appointed Ministerial Special Representative to lead engagement with Métis, Tom Isaac will resolve the negotiations prior to the Appeal being heard next October. But meanwhile, I keep pondering these numbers with much empathy for those who feel disenfranchised:
Source: Canada Census, 2006
Because Indigenous identity shouldn’t be a numbers game…