For some time now, there’s been discussions about the ethnogenesis of the Métis People of Canada. There are many opinions, and many people have much to gain for people currently not included in the definition of Métis as described by the Métis Nation of Canada.
I won’t speak about other narratives and I won’t arrogate an opinion on others. Although I benefit of the Privilege of being a White-passing Métis, I strive to decolonize my mindset every day.
I have written in past posts (here, here, here, here ) the reasons behind this blog. (which I describe as ”where I come to ponder about MY Métis identity and what it all means for me and for future generations…) I feel the need to document my memories, the memories of my dad, my grand-parents and my great-grand-parents.
Why? Because I heard them first-hand, they were oral and when I’m no longer here, I want it documented. It’s important to me for my children, my future grand-children and my future great-grand-children for so many reasons, and “oral narratives” are discounted. So I’m writing them down, here. Nobody else need to agree with me. I’m not the Courts and it’s not a debate.
Identity is a moving target, and I’ve seen many Indigenous groups having to resort to historical documents because their identity relies on Court decisions. To me, it is the most Colonialist gesture enabling the erasure and assimilation of Indigenous minority groups. To me, it’s like a little bit of Indigenous Persons living on the fringe gets cut off every time the numbers of that group gets small enough not to benefit from research or pecuniary interest.
I have serious doubts on whether my own “small” community will ever be recognized as historical either. Because it’s in Québec, and because my community’s narrative is too often hijacked by Québec Nationalists to strengthen an argument of French as “Original Peoples” – i.e. here before British Colonialism for the purpose of Sovereignty…
Sigh. I’ve got so much to say about that. But, to be brief: not all people from Québec identify as Métis, have ancestors who were *Indians, are from a historical community. And last, but not least, not all Métis of Québec identify as Québécois.
Again, only speaking for myself here: I don’t, nor have I ever, identified as Québécois. The ways in which I have understood my family’s history has always led me to understand that my identity was more *fluid* (for lack of a better word) than just Québec. My ancestors and their kin were travelers. Voyageurs. They were impervious to borders that shifted so much prior to Confederation.
They came and they went. They traveled for the fur trade. They came back. They eventually settled. They didn’t settle along the Red or the Assiniboine Rivers. They chose other rivers: Saint-Maurice, Mastigouche, L’Assomption, Bayonne, Ouareau, moving up the rivers away from the population growth along the Saint-Lawrence.
Many assimilated, like First Nations did, I’m sure. How else would the province with the second largest population has the second smallest population by percentage in Canada?
Less than 40,000 people identified as Metis in Québec. That’s:
9.1% of Canada’s total Métis population
Less than 2.9% of the total Indigenous population identify as Métis in Québec
Less than 0.5% of Québec total population
It’s gonna be hard to prove to the Courts that Lanaudière and/or Mauricie are historic communities, because there’s nothing to gain. No oil, no natural gas, no bituminous sands. Just water and forests and farmland. Representation needs money (I’m hearing Kevin O’Leary yelling this), and money expects a return on its investment.