Three Kateri

Kateri Tekakwitha is an important, controversial Kanien’kehá:ka woman living in the early days of Colonization.

Kateri was a common name in these parts, it appears. But most of them were never elevated to the fame of Saint Kateri – Sainte Catherine in French. I highly recommend this piece from Canada’s History in their April/May 2014 edition (click for the article)

Much of Indigenous history was written by men; White men – mostly missionaries. I’ve previously mentioned reading some of the first books published about us – the “Relations de Jésuites”.

Reconnecting Indigenous women to the Nations they came is an arduous task- fitting puzzle pieces of three Settler languages – Latin, French and English  – several Indigenous languages, Nations who used no last names and lived semi and nomadic lifestyles and missionaries who named everything after Saints.

I feel it is a necessary exercise to find as much as I can about these grandmothers. History books rarely speak of the Indigenous grandmothers, great-aunts and cousins. Birth records offer scarce information about who they were, their community, nation, clan or kin. Meanwhile, their French, English, Scot or Orkneian partners and their male offspring often became famous – if only by their Voyageurs contracts with the fur trade.

I feel it is a necessary exercise to find as much as I can about these grandmothers – especially because my family’s oral history is so male-gendered-centric as to erase the very qualities of my Indigeneity.

At the Sillery Mission, many Nations coalesced, coming from afar to trade. Missionaries used the opportunity to introduce them to roman catholic teachings, convincing some to adopt the christian god. Eventually, First Nation women took Settler men as partners and the christian church recorded their unions, and the birth of their offspring.

Sometimes, missionaries wrote in French – sometimes they wrote in Latin. Retracing their steps becomes even more challenging:

For examples, here is the 1662 marriage record of my 8th great-grandmother – who was called Catherine La Huronne,  Catherine Annennontak – Anenontha  Anén:taks:


For whatever reason, Catherine is portrayed as a tragic “Sauvagesse” who was married off as a child who had plucked her from a convent where she was abandoned after the tragic death of her father, Nicolas ARENDAKE and the disappeance of her mother Jeanne OTRIH8NDET.

Here’s the thing: there’s no FEU (term meaning dead parents) near their names, and no mention that Catherine is a MINOR. No matter what language a record is written in, those are ALWAYS indicated on marriage records.

Catherine wasn’t a child. Catherine wasn’t an orphan. Catherine’s parents chose to have her EDUCATED. Catherine could READ and could WRITE.

Catherine also bore more than the name spelled many ways. In this retranscription of the registers of the Sillery Mission, Catherine is called “Sylvestri:

From Le Registre de Sillery (1638-1690), Léo-Paul HÉBERT, Presse de l’Université du Québec, p.199

June 4, 1666
Moi, Ludovic Nicolas de la société de Jésus, en acte solennel du rite de baptême dans la chapelle de Sillery, une fille née récemment du mariage de Jean Duran et Catherine Sylvestri(3) Huron. Parrain était Stephane LeTellier et marraine Marie Meseret. Marie Catherine fût le nom donné à cette fille.


Catherine, Catharina gave birth to Marie Catharina – Kateri.



In the Relations des Jésuites, people “disappeared” and were assumed either killed or kidnapped by “bad guys”. Jesuits seemed adept at writing a narrative to illustrate the fierceness of Nations they felt were threatening any plans of assimilation…

Marie Catherine disappeared from the history books, assumed dead or kidnapped. But Kateri actually went on to live a Onkwehonwehné:ha life, married to Kanien’kehá:ka man named Nikanerahtá:á. Their descendants live across Kaniatarowanenneh – I greet them everyday as the sun rises at the Eastern Door.

Niawen’kó:wá for your kindness, Istén:’a as you shared your ancestry with me. 


All My Relations.





Would anyone ever dare write THIS?

The following is a Critical, Satiritical Comment of Settler Colonial construct of identity.

The Inuit Fantasy of Being ‘Indian’?:)

By Qallunette
Twitter: @Qallunette

This is a response to the piece which was published in Alberta Poliblog Monday, 18 ApriL, 2016 by Professor Daniel Leroux, and retrieved from

To illustrate the bias of the Writer and the agenda of exclusive Métis organizations, the author of the present piece simply interchanged Métis, metis and corresponding Indigenous community names with Inuit, inuit, Inuk, inuk and Inuit communities. ed: Inuk is and actual Indigenous word meaning “person“; Inuit means “many persons” or “People“.

It has been several days since the Daniels decision came down from the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC), and not surprisingly, it is being welcomed by an incredible range of organizations and individuals. To be clear, I’m cautiously favourable to some of the decision’s likely impacts, but I want to take a moment to focus on the section that is getting the most attention among those organizations and individuals that I am familiar with given my research.

Let me begin with the following statement, offered by Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella on behalf of the court, which is being repeated over and over again by nascent “inuit” organizations a little bit all over: “’Inuit’ can refer to the historic Inuit community in Nunavut Settlements or it can be used as a general term for anyone with mixed European and Aboriginal heritage,” Abella wrote. “There is no consensus on who is considered Inuit, nor need there be. Culture and ethnic labels do not lend themselves to neat boundaries.”
The statement seems relatively inane, but taken to its logical conclusion – as these organizations and individuals wasted no time doing – it explicitly argues for a position that fulfills the always-appealing Inuit fantasy of being “Indian.”

In the immediate aftermath of the decision, Pam Palmater has explained the impacts well in, “Don’t partake in celebrations over new Supreme Court ruling on Inuit just yet”: “To my mind, the Daniels decision is less about reconciliation and more about erasure of Indigenous sovereignty and identity. It takes John Ralston Saul’s idea of ‘we are all Inuit people’ together with the newest Canadian slogan ‘we are all treaty people’ and opens the floodgates to every person in Canada claiming a long lost Inuk ancestor and asserting their identity and control over our lands and rights. It has the potential to effectively eliminate any real sovereignty or jurisdiction Indigenous Nations have over our own citizens and territories. It does not bolster Inuit claims, but instead confuses them. It does not address the discrimination faced by actual non-status Indians, but paints them with the Inuit “mixed identity brush.”

Indeed, demographic research in Québec has demonstrated that a significant majority of the descendants of 17th-century French settlers today have at least one Indigenous ancestor, likely from one of the 13 Indigenous women who married settlers prior to 1680. I am one of those descendants, who, due to intermarriage among French-Canadians for 11 generations, has multiple Indigenous ancestors. But keep in mind that having 2, 3, or 5 Indigenous ancestors in the 17th century or 10+ generations ago represents no more than 0.1-1% Indigenous ancestry, a fact borne out over and over again in both genealogical (family history) and genetic (DNA ancestry testing) research in Québec. – ed: This factoid is running contrary to the Esteemed Dr. Gérard Bouchard, Historian, Sociologist and writer actually from Quebec, Canada, affiliated with the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. His brother is Lucien Bouchard, founding member of the Quebec Sovereigntist movement. See Professor Bouchard’s article here: (translated via Google for Readers and Esteemed Unilingual Academia)

In fact, the same studies, conducted by Québécois researchers in French, strongly suggest that it’s still more likely that today’s French-descendant population have English ancestry and ancestry from another European ethnicity (e.g., German, Portuguese, Irish) than Indigenous ancestry. In my own ancestral history prior to 1700, I am related to the daughter of a German aristocrat who later became the proprietor of an infamous brothel in Montréal and to an English woman who migrated to New France with her French husband.
Of course, in today’s world, Inuit obsessively mark our long-ago Indigenous ancestry, often in order to claim Indigenous identity. It has become integral to Inuit strategies to dispossess Indigenous lands, as the days-old response to the Daniels case is making clear. The glee with which these new “inuit” groups are claiming a slew of “rights” and even territorial jurisdiction is breathtaking. What’s more, many of these organizations – for example, a couple of “inuit” organizations in NunatuKavut and the largest in Nunavik, Québec, – actively oppose Indigenous peoples today through a variety of innovative revisions to history and political claims. It’s disheartening to see these efforts come to fruition in the Daniels decision.

In, “The Supreme Court ruling on Inuit: A roadmap to nowhere,” a noted Inuk scholar laid out what’s at stake in the Daniels decision for the Inuit people, hours after the decision: “If Inuit identity really is simply about mixed aboriginal and non-aboriginal ancestry, can a distant ancestor located in an archival document or even a DNA test now serve as bases for adjudicating claims of Inuit identity rather than culture, community or link to the Inuit people? … Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Thursday that the government of Canada plans to respect the Daniels decision and will work toward reconciliation – let’s hope that governments are clear on what it means to reconcile with historically rooted indigenous peoples rather than more recently identifying individuals.”

Without a doubt, the new “inuit” – who often openly admit to identifying as “inuit” either because they’re not accepted as Indigenous by those Indigenous peoples whose territories they inhabit and/or as a way to access Charter rights – are largely French-descendant people whose claims to Indigeneity must be challenged. While there are certainly parallel claims by peoples who have been unjustly disenfranchised by the Indian Act regime – and I am personally quite sympathetic to such claims – the new “inuit” employ the language of colonialism, violence, and victimhood as a symbolic weapon against Indigenous peoples.

I’ll leave you with this thought: under the SCC’s recent argument, upwards of 10 million descendants of the earliest French settlers now living in Rigolet, in Yellowknife, in Goose Bay, in Nain, and other locations, can be considered Inuit, simply because they have one Indigenous ancestor (often the same!) prior to 1700, a period in which no more than a few thousand French settlers lived in a dozen settlements along Northern rivers.
The SCC’s inability or unwillingness to adopt Indigenous forms of governance and self-determination – including when it comes to community membership and/or citizenship – in its own boundary-making exercise, speaks to its role as a colonial institution. I hope the ensuing conversation presents a coherent challenge to the white fantasy of becoming “Inuit” that Daniels has authorized.

capital M

Qallunette is an *actual* keeper of her family’s Oral History. As Métis from unceded Atikamekw Nation land of Nitaskinan, her grandparents did not let her forget her kinship. She grew up Métis with her parents in Lanaudière and Nunavut and currently resides at Tiohtià:ke unceded land.

Qallunette is neither Academia nor Polity, but grows increasingly irritated at its lateral violence while Indigenous Peoples attempt to Own Ourselves, and would like to see more effort on Decolonization of Academic spaces – or at a bare minimum, respectful discourse towards Indigenous communities who share land outside their own. Policing identity and belonging must be left to the communities who share common land.

If the Supreme Court of Canada does allow to do so, strange that Professor Leroux allow himself there from an external standpoint.
Whether Inuk, First Nation or Métis, it is our ties to the land that identify us – certainly not persons who are (or who have chosen) to self-identify as Easterners-White-With-Indigenous-Ancestor-Yet-White-Nevertheless-Pride.


#Métis Ruling: So now what?

Yesterday was the Supreme Court Ruling about giving Thanks and acknowledgement to the people who sacrificed so much to get to the highest court in the land. For a plain language interpretation of the ruling, my friend Dr. Sébastien Malette, who helped the Métis Federation of Canada prepare their Factum for the cause, has taken the time to explain to me what the ruling means. Click here to see his take on it.

Today and henceforth, the hard work begins.

So now what?

This is where the Nation – or Community – comes to play.

Metis ruling

Nations AND CommunitiesPlural.

I refuse to wallow in negativity – it’s standing room only in there already. I have no desire , claim to fame or recognition because it’s not even close to being part of my wheelhouse. Notice: no PayPal button anywhere on my blog.

My community is Nitaskinan. My ties are tied to the land of my Indigenous ancestors. The home and hearth of my many First Nations ggggrandmothers. The Settler construct of ownership is not part of my wheelhouse either.

Treaty Métis (Otipemsiwak?) needs are different than Unceded-Land Métis (Abitawisiwak?). Even though some of us have indeed kinship connections, the land which claims us is as different as the harvest she gives to nourish us.

My community sits on Atikamekw land for which a Comprehensive Land Claim and Self-Government Negotiations currently being negotiated with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

My community may need to re-learn our Oral History. My community may need healing. My community may need Economic Development.

Settlers living on Atikamekw Land need Truth, Humility, Honesty, Wisdom, Respect, Courage and Love and implement all 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

My community will need to rekindle our kinship with the Atikamekw Nation and help our Community as Stewards of Nitaskinan.

Kwei. Qallunette nit icinikason!  Nitaskinan ni otcin. Ni mireriten!


Historic Ruling

by Dr. Sebastien Malette, Consultant to the Metis Federation of Canada, Intervenor in SCC Daniels Appeal

I have attached the Metis Federation of Canada (MFC) Factum of the Intervener for the Daniels case per a drop box link here.

At the last page you can see the argument brought forward the Court: that if any consideration should be given to the Métis question about identity, it should be in line with the most progressive International standards when it comes to the recognition of both Indigenous diversity (and thus Métis diversity within Canada as already recognized by the SCC), and the ability for each Métis/Non-Status community to self-define their identity and relationship with the Federal government.

For that reason, MFC has submitted to the SCC that:
(1) self-identification,
(2) ancestral connection and
(3) community acceptance

should suffice as criteria under the section 91(24), not only for the Métis peoples, but in fact also for the Non-Status Indians, in fact for all Indigenous peoples of Canada.

In short, the MFC has offered a way forward to cut across all these arbitrarily lines and red tapes that now divide Indigenous identities from a head of power standpoint.

It is hoped in my understanding that this suggestion could potentially limit the propagation of animosity between the different Indigenous groups and identities, due to governmental selective recognition and action.

Hence MFC tried their best to be fair and mostly inclusive for any Indigenous involved under section 91 (24), and for all future generations.

It is also my understanding that this would not have been possible without the precious pro-bono help from Christopher Devlin and Métis lawyer Cynthia Westaway and their Law firm (Devlin, Gailus Westaway), who stood up with us shoulder to shoulder.

Tomorrow, many hope a new direction. I take this opportunity to salute the memory of Harry Daniels, and the courage of his son, Gabriel. I also salute Leah Gardner, from Ontario; Terry Joudrey, from Nova Scotia.



Why is “who I am” important now?

As the Supreme Court of Canada pronounces itself on the fate of Métis next April 14th, I look back on my path since my father’s passing, almost 2 years ago. I then became the Eldest of the Eldest’s Eldest – and responsible for passing down our Family oral history to a next generation and fighting for my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren.

Qallunette's Quest

Also a complicated question. Did I mention that I was almost at the half-century mark? 

Over the last 3 or 4 years, my father became more interested about the focus of my genealogy research. We began talking about who we were and he talked quite a bit about his early life and he started helping me with my genealogy research (my favorite Winter pastime).

His uncle had devoted the early years of his life recording the names and collecting information of our male ancestors. The family tree was pretty complete. Except that the women were almost footnotes! 

I’m certainly not going to place blame here. I love my great-uncle dearly and at almost 97 years old young, I have only great admiration for this virtuous man!

My goal in building our family tree was to focus on my female ancestors and develop and highlight their existence.


We never…

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La question: Aaniin odoodemaayan?


Aaniin odoodemaayan?

Je ne peux pas répondre à cette question. Je sent parfois comme si la réponse m’a été volée. Mais je continue à la chercher.

Le nom d’origine de la rivière St-Maurice était “Métabéroutin”, nom Algonquin qui signifie “décharge du vent”; la Nation Atikameks de Haute-Mauricie la nomme toujours “Tapiskwan Sipi”, la “rivière de l’aiguille filée”.La Nation Abénaquis la nomme “Madôbaladenitekw” ou la “rivière qui se termine”.

Une rivière. Plusieurs noms. Des noms qui veulent dire quelque chose, qui informent du terrain. Des noms Autochtones.

En cherchant ma généalogie matriarchale, beaucoup de mes ancêtres “apparaissent” de nulle part. Des irrégularités d’orthographe dans les registres de l’Église, des entrées manquantes, des espaces vides. Pleins de culs-de-sac.

État et l’Église; Église et l’État. Travaillant ensemble en étroite collaboration aussitôt les Jésuites remplacés par les Sulpiciens en tant que curatelle des registres de Kebec / Nouvelle-France / Bas-Canada / Canada-Est / Québec. La Société Notre-Dame de Montréal, fondée par De la Dauversière , avait pour but de convertir et civiliser les Peuples Autochtones, suite aux directives du Roi Louis XIV et la dissolution de la Compagnie des Cent-Associés de la Nouvelle-France.  

Séminaire Saint-Sulpice, Tiohtià: ke.

Comment pourraient-ils civiliser mes ancêtres?

Traduire leurs noms, il semble. Les * Franciser *, peut-être?

En lisant les “Relations des Jésuites” (1632-1673),  on peut conclure que Lallemont, LeJeune, Bréboeuf et autres ont fait une tentative d’enregistrer les noms sous la forme écrite plus proche possible. On peut reconnaître les protagonistes communs des différents auteurs même si l’orthographe diffère.

Par exemple, Noël Negabamat, Tekouerimat, Tek8erimat était un guide constant des premiers Jésuites. Plus tôt dénommé Noël Negabamat, Père LeJeune a veillé expliquer son changement de nom qui refléta son ascendant au rôle de capitaine de sa communauté. Ironie du sort, capitaine dechasse est le terme également utilisé par les Métis Otipemsiwak des Prairies.

Comme nous pouvons constater dans la correspondance plus tard, Capitaine Noël Negabamat Tekouerimat pouvait converser en français et en anglais – après avoir passé du temps avec les Anglais dans la terre des Abénakis:


Correspondance entre Noël Negabamat Tekouerimat, Capitaine Chrétien, à Père LeJeune en France, Relations des Jésuites, 1654.

Qu’en est- il de *l’autre* Noël? Mon ancêtre Noël Langlois?

Enregistré en tant que Pilote (capitaine) du Fleuve Saint-Laurent et pêcheur. Dont l’ identité est vivement débattue, mais dont la généalogie est bien documentée. Dont les descendants vivent sur la terre Atikamekw de Nitaskinan que les colons appellent Lanaudière et Mauricie?

Un autre de mes ancêtres et l’ancêtre de nombreux Voyageurs, Hivernants et de Métis Otipemsiwak.

C’est peut-être seulement qu’une coïncidence que ces 2 Noël du même âge vivaient côte à côte à Kamiskoua-Ouangachi – la Mission de Sillery. un Chef chrétien Autochtone et un Colon. L’un capitaine et pêcheur – l’autre un pilote et pêcheur.

Regardons d’autres noms Autochtones qui ont été francisé par les missionnaires sulpiciens:




Aaniin odoodemaayan?

I can’t answer that question. Sometimes it feels like the answer was stolen from me. But I keep trying to look for it.

The original name of the St-Maurice river was “Métabéroutin”, given by Algonquin, which means “discharge of the wind”; the Atikameks of Haute-Mauricie still call  “Tapiskwan Sipi”, the “river of the threaded needle”. The Abenaki call it “Madôbaladenitekw” or the “river that ends”.

One river. Multiple names. Indigenous Place Names.

So many of my ancestors just “appeared” out of nowhere. Spelling irregularites in Church Registries, Missing Entries, Blank Spaces. Dead Ends.

State and Church; Church and State. Working closely together since the Jesuits were replaced by Sulpicians as curators of Kebec / New France / Lower Canada / Canada-East / Québec records. The Société Notre-Dame de Montréal, founded by De la Dauversière, aimed to convert and civilize Indigenous Peoples.

Séminaire Saint-Sulpice, Tiohtià:ke.

How would they CIVILIZE my Ancestors?

Translate their names, it seems. *Frenchify*, if you will?

Reading “Relations des Jésuites” (1632 to 1673) from the first year the annual diary was published, one can tell that Lallemont, LeJeune, Bréboeuf et al tried to record a person’s name in the closest written form of how Indigenous Peoples called themselves. Common protagonists of the different authors are recognizeable, even if the spelling differed.

An example, Noël Negabamat, Tekouerimat, Tek8erimat was a constant guide to the early Jesuits. Earlier referred as Noël Negabamat, Père LeJeune made sure to explain his change of name to reflect his ascendance to the role of Captain to his community. Ironically, Captain of the Hunt is the term also utilized by Otipemsiwak Métis out in the Prairies. 

Studio_20160401_190129.pngThe Western Abenakis of Vermont: War Migration, and the Survival of an Indian People by Colin G. Calloway UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA PRESS | March 1, 1994 |

As we can see in later correspondence, Capitaine Noël Negabamat Tekouerimat could converse in both French and English – having spent time with the English in the land of the Abenaki:


Correspondence between Noël Negabamat Tekouerimat, Capitaine Chrétien, à Père LeJeune en France, Relations des Jésuites, 1654.

What about the *other* Noël? Noël Langlois?

Recorded as a Pilote (Captain) of the Saint-Lawrence river and fisherman.  Whose identity is hotly debated, but whose genealogy is well documented. Whose descendants live on the Atikamekw land of Nitaskinan. Lanaudière, as the Settlers call it.

Another Ancestor of mine and of many Voyageurs, Hivernants and Otipemsiwak Métis.

It is perhaps coincidental that these 2 Noël lived side by side in Sillery: one Indigenous man and one Settler. One a Captain, a Chief and fisherman – the other a Pilote and fisherman.

But then we look at other Indigenous names that were Frenchified by the Sulpician missionaries:





ANÉN:TAKS and L’HÉRISSON means porcupine in Kanien’kéha and French

And she was also recorded in Latin as SILVESTRI:  “De la Forêt” or “of the Forest”.


The missionaries at Sillery used the term to refer to either baptisms in the forest and as reference to Indigenous Peoples who had been baptised:



And the name of her father on her marriage record was Nicolas ARENDAKE:


Could Nicolas ARENDAKE also be known as SILVESTRI?


There are probably more Indigenous men with Frenchified historical records since the creation of the Sulpician Order. While they may not be solely responsible for our enfranchisement, their assimilation techniques set the tone.

Source: Solving the Indian Problem › specialedition8

As I look for clues to help me answer which odoodem my ancestors belonged to, my sadness about the past and my uncomfort and anger grows at any present-day assimilation tactics.

With gratitude to Rebekah Ingram, linguist and PhD candidate. Her enlightened approach to reclaiming Indigenous Place Names and her allyship with Indigenous Peoples inspired me to look for these clues. 

With gratitude to Thohahente for the gift of Sacred oien’kwa – in a Red pouch.

Niawen’kó:wa. Tiatén:ro