Bois-Brûlés! Sang Mélé!
Mais au fond de ce sang, j’ai des mots sauvages que j’entends encore, et des désirs qui marchent et qui vont bien au-delà de vos clôtures.
Élodie, dans La Dalle-des-Morts de F. A. Savard, 1965
Le 27 septembre 2017, le professeur de sociologie Darryl Leroux de l’Université Saint Mary’s a présenté une conférence à l’Université de Montréal, intitulée Le révisionnisme historique et l’autochtonisation : la création des « Métis de l’Est ». Le sujet de sa conférence, en lien avec ses travaux antérieurs, interroge l’existence des Métis des provinces de l’Est du Canada que Leroux accuse de fraude ethnique et d’intentions hostiles envers ce qu’il considère être les « vrais » Autochtones. En résumé, Leroux accuse les Métis des provinces de l’Est du Canada (et du Québec en…
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There are few historical events in our national story that solicit stronger opinions and create more debate than the disputes of 1870 and 1885 between the Métis in Western Canada and the Government of Canada. Various names refer to these two series of events, and their usage often reflects the loyalties, opinions and even biases of the user. Today, we see the application of such terms as rebellion, resistance, insurgency and disputes.
Louis Riel portrayed as a devil with angel wings, by Dale Cummings (MIKAN 3018796)
Arguably, the debate on the events of 1870 and 1885, Louis Riel, and the place of the Métis in our history and contemporary Canadian society has had an enduring effect on our national psyche. In March, 1885, an article published in The Globe of Toronto stated: “It is not given to every man to have caused two rebellions. In the history of…
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As a companion piece of a previous blog: Iles Dupas et du Chicot, I want to share with you the origins of the term sometimes used to designate Métis.
As previously mentioned, Jacques BRISSET and Louis DANDONNEAU were the holders of the title to the area:
The name Chicot was later documented in 1860, when Johann G. Kohl wrote a passage in his book: Kitch-Gami, Life Among the Lake Superior Ojibwa in which he retells his discussion in French with a Métis man he encountered during his travels:
With no other information, Kohl and many after him deduced that Chicot meant its literal translation from French as “half-burnt stumps”, and associated it with the complexion of the Métis he met.
Chicot, like many names given to Indigenous Peoples such as Nipissing, Ahousat, Yellowknives, Mississaugas etc., is in fact a place-name. Chicot is a river that runs into the archipelago between Trois-Rivières and Montréal, between Berthier and Sorel and known today as île Dupas.
The Chicot travels downstream, beginning between St-Gabriel de Brandon and St-Didace and flows South through the communities of St-Cuthbert, St-Norbert to discharge into the Saint-Lawrence at île Dupas. It is one of the many rivers used by Voyageurs, who learned to navigate it from their First Nations kin. As the islands and neighbouring towns became crowded with Settlers attracted to the nearby trading post, Métis paddled their way upstream and built communities along its shores.
It is noteworthy to highlight the names of the communities that were used by Chicots who set up communities along the Red river in what became Manitoba: “Brandon“, “St-Cuthbert” and “St-Norbert“.
A Language of Our Own: The Genesis of Michif, the Mixed Cree-French Language of the Canadian Métis, Peter Bakker, Oxford University Press, Jun 5, 1997
Kitchi-Gami : life among the Ojibway, Johann Georg Kohl, St.Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1985
One of the Family: Metis Culture in Nineteenth-Century Northwestern Saskatchewan, Brenda Macdougall, UBC Press, Jan 1, 2011A Language of Our Own: The Genesis of Michif, the Mixed Cree-French Language of the Métis, Peter Bakker, Oxford University Press, Jun 5, 1997
Contours of a People: Metis Family, Mobility, and History, Nichole St-Onge, Carolyn Podruchny, Brenda Macdougall, University of Oklahoma Press, Dec 18, 2014
Frequently Asked Questions, Métis Nation of Ontario (click for link)
Tcipaiatikw kicikaw, nicwaso Mikomin Pisimw – Friday, July 8th 2016.
Meema’s Atikamekw isn’t as good as yours – but I’m still learning. I hope to be fluent in the language of Nitaskinan and teach your Noko – my Nitanis.
In Miroskamin, the highest Settler Court rendered a decision which has impacted the way you live today. But it wasn’t easy: we really had to work hard at pulling away from all the brainwashing that happened over the course of several centuries.
You see, the Euro-Canadians had made laws which were fought successfully, beginning right when Indigenous Peoples were allowed representation in the Settler’s Courts. A lot has been written about that already, and I’m sure that technology at this point is so advanced that you can probably access it just by thinking about it. Just in case it hasn’t, start HERE.
You are Métis. You live on Nitaskinan, land of Nehiraw Iriniw. We worked hard to work together for the stewardship and economic development of this land we love so much. And we broke the mold of “efficient market theories” taught to us. We decided to do things differently – think outside the box.
First, we lovingly educated and sometimes people who called themselves Indigenous, yet whose goals seemed to be destructive or disrespectful towards others.
I don’t know this woman wearing a meaningless headdress. She called herself “Chief” – and Settler media used her to advance their objective of extinguishing Indigenous title based on blood quantum.
She opened the path to constructive discussions on reclaiming and lovingly educating our own.
You see, after SCC Daniels, people all over started coming out. They had no direction. The ruling was about two Métis men, a father and his son, as well as an Anishinaabe Ikwe and Mi’kmaq ge’tipnewinu. For a while, everybody focused on the Métis, but in reality, many more First Nations without status were affected by this ruling.
The government-sanctioned Indigenous organizations either remained quiet, or positioned themselves publicly against reclaiming people recognized as falling under the responsibility of the Settler’s Federal government. This led to the rise of many alternative organizations – some with good intentions, some as an occasion to steal from our “lost relatives”.
Then, we truly turned the clock back to a time before patriarchal focused laws, blood quantum, band enrollment and reserves. Because all of those had been imposed on our ancestors. We supported the Elders, who stepped up to the plate and they began to educate the “lost relatives”, challenge the leading First Nations and Métis organization and convinced the Federal government to facilitate Status claims lost because of their past objective to enfranchise all Indigenous Peoples.
We learned from Inuit qaujimajatuqangit, and reclaimed our own societal values. —Happy 75th Birthday, Nunavut!
We worked together, while respecting the rights of each other’s culture and language. We fought pan-Indigeneity.
We went back to kinship and land, while making space for those who chose to reclaim a nomadic existence. We stopped the pollution of our waterways, the environmental damages caused by unsustainable harvesting of resources.
It all began as soon as we got rid of the Indian Act and started creating our own rules of engagement.
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:
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.
The following is a Critical, Satiritical Comment of Settler Colonial construct of identity.
TUESDAY, 19 APRIL 2016
The Inuit Fantasy of Being ‘Indian’?:)
This is a response to the piece which was published in Alberta Poliblog Monday, 18 ApriL, 2016 by Professor Daniel Leroux, and retrieved from http://albertapoliblog.blogspot.ca/2016/04/the-white-fantasy-of-being-indian-brief.html.
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: https://goo.gl/HDP8gp (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.
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.