Culling the Indians: A Timeline

Everybody tends to refer to 1876 as the benchmark of Canada’s legacy of colonialism. But the intent to terminate Indigenous rights began 103 years prior to the Indian Act.

Here’s the timeline:

1763: The Royal Proclamation. Proclaimed as the “Indian Magna Carta“. It guaranteed certain rights and protections. It established how Britain could acquire lands.

1850: An Act for the better protection of the Lands and Property of the Indians in Lower Canada. Included are all descendants of such people, non-Indians who “intermarried with such Indians,” people whose parents were considered Indians, and “all persons adopted by them”

1857: An Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in the Province was passed by the fifth Parliament of the Province of Canada. Any Indian who can read or speak English or French, has no debts and is of good character becomes considered as a “legal Person” and “civilized” in the eyes of the British government.

1869: An Act for the Gradual Enfranchisement of Indians, the Better Management of Indian Affairs, and to Extend the Provisions of the Act. This further restricted definition of who was regarded a Indian. Only persons of one quarter Indian blood could be acknowledged Indian.

1870: The Manitoba Act.  Individuals residing in the vicinity of present-day Winnipeg were offered Scrip, a promissory note giving each individual a private ownership of 64 hectares in exchange of their Indian land title.

1876: The Indian Act. Meant to consolidate all the previous ordinances aiming to terminate First Nations culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. Much of the Act pertaining to identity and the exclusions based on gender have since been repealed and the act has gone through several amendments.

Any descendants of the people who became excluded by any of these laws remain victims of historic injustices as a result their colonization. We are prevented from exercising, in particular, our right to development in accordance with our own needs and interests and denied our right to self-determination.

 

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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:

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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:

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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.

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Catherine, Catharina gave birth to Marie Catharina – Kateri.

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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. 

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All My Relations.

 

 

 

Would anyone ever dare write THIS?

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

TUESDAY, 19 APRIL 2016
The Inuit Fantasy of Being ‘Indian’?:)

By Qallunette
Email: Qallunette@gmail.com
Website: http://www.Qallunette.com
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 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.

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.

Taima.

#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!

 

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.

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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:

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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:

LAMONTAGNE – WATSO

PISSENNE:

MICHEL:

JEAN / AZÔ

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”.

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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:

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

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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 www.omfrc.org › 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

 

 

 

 

 

Niska – Bernaches – Geese

Niska are flying due North this Miroskamin (Spring). They aren’t even pausing on the shores of Kitchi Sipi (Saint-Lawrence river) near Moriak.

Niska is the Atikamekw word for Geese. In French, they used to be known as Bernaches, but now are called Outardes.

My grandfather would take down the taps out of the maple trees whenever Niska flew due North without stopping. The rain would soon start and the sap would loose its sweetness.

Bernaîche is the name my early ancestors took when they were required by Colonists to take a last name.

Bernaiche ascendance
Bernèche, Bernaîche, Bernache

Sîkon is over; Miroskamin is upon us.

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Perce-neiges. Moriak (Montréal), taken March 27th, 2016.

Wearing Medicine pouch as an act of Decolonization

I have to be honest: growing up, I’d never seen a Medicine pouch. But then again, neither had I even attended Powwow or Sweat Lodge. They were banned by the government in 1925.

Kill the Indian, Save the Man.

First time I saw a Medicine pouch was sometimes in the 1990s – I don’t remember exactly when, but I know that I was expecting at the time.

I was fascinated by how beautiful the “necklace” was: made of leather I could smell had been smoke-tanned. The smell of “home tanned” leather triggers some visceral response in me. But there was something more familiar about the pouch that kept niggling at the back of my mind.

Year after year, attending Powwows and other Indigenous cultural events, I’d see these “necklaces” at the vendor booths. Different patterns, differently crafted, each unique.

Out of all of the beautiful crafts, these were what attracted me the most. But I never had purchased one – concerned about First Nation appropriation.

But why did this Medicine pouch seem so familiar?

My grandmother.

My Métis grandmother. The one who really, really would have never self-identified as Métis. The gggggrandchild of Catherine Anenonta and Louis Durand.

Her Scapulaires Verts.

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I think she must have had a stash of them everywhere. Each pouch contained a shiny medallion and a piece of camfor. Each time she’d see me without mine on, she’d pull another one out like magic.

I hated those Scapulaires Verts. They STANK and made me reek. She’d make me afraid something bad would happen to me if I didn’t wear it.

My grandfather hated them. Once, while we were driving out of town, he asked me to give it to him, rolled down his truck window, chucked it out without saying anything more about it

Anyways.

Here we are, over 40 years since the stinky “necklaces”. What the heck were they anyways? Why did my grandmother insist I wear one at all times?

I consulted the Catholic Encyclopedia , under Individual Small Scapularies; several different ones are described, but nothing about Green Scapularies.

Apart from information from obscure religious sources on prayers to go with the scapulary, all I found was this paragraph, translated from French, from Mary of Nazareth:

“The Green Scapular was the subject of two successive approvals of Pope Pius IX in 1863 and in 1870 ; but Satan, who knows its invaluable worth, succeeded long and still today to prevent the distribution in large numbers”

Oh Satan.

But, heeey – the cultural partimony department of the government of Quebec has it listed as a cultural icon in their Répertoire

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Why?

Around the same time of the Gradual Civilization Act, the Scapulaire Vert became the tool used to replace the medicine pouch. In the book, published in 1877, the Annals of the Propagandation of Faith, a single passage of how the “Savages” were adopting the devotion.

The Catholic Church exchanged medicine pouches for Scapulaires Verts. They tried to enfranchise us with a piece of green felt and shiny medallions. They convinced women that camfor was better than our Meshki Ki.

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I now wear a medicine pouch, filled with Meshki Ki as an act of decolonization. And it doesn’t stink.

All Our Relations.

 

 

Îles Dupas et du Chicot, Eastern Métis Capital, or Voyageur Hub?

Please Bear with me. I have to go back before getting to my point.

What I have found through my research for empirical evidence to match my oral history of the migration of the first offspring of the unions of First Nations women and Settler men has been posted previously. Here’s a quick overview of timeline:

1637 – 1686: Jesuit Mission of Sillery – meeting place of Atikamekw, Abenaki, Innu and refuge of survivors of the Huronia Massacre.

Sillery

 

1670 Birth of Louis DURAND, son of Catherine ANENONTA, Attignawantan  (Bear Clan) and Jean DURAND, French Settler at Sillery Mission, Québec

Anenontha Ancestry1690 Purchase of the Seigneurie des Îles Dupas et du Chicot by Jacques BRISSET et Louis DANDONNEAU, both French Settlers. Louis’ sister Marguerite was Jacques’ wife:

1696 Louis DURAND travels to Michilimakinac – see more here: The Legend of Louis Durand – is one of the first extensively documented Voyageur. His descendant, also named Louis DURAND, established himself out West, in present day Alberta – see more here: Louis Durand’s Travels

1740 Death of Louis DURAND in Lanoraie, Lanaudière, Québec.

Lanoraie_Quebec_location_diagram

So, that just proves ONE Indigenous ancestor, right? ONE does not make a COMMUNITY, right?

I absolutely agree. Let’s look at other First Nation women and their descendants: (I have more, but unfortunately cannot provide mariage records, or other empirical proof they were from a First Nation community)

Highlighted below are the communities of (in the order they were occupied by the descendants of these First Nation women) Sorel, Berthierville, Lavaltrie, Sainte-Elisabeth, Saint-Cuthbert, Saint-Norbert, Mandeville and Saint-Gabriel de Brandon. 

I haven’t found any empirical proof (yet) explaining how these First Nation women came to be neighbours, despite being from many different First Nations. The mariage records, if found at all, never indicated the names of the unbaptized parents of the First Nation spouse.

All recorded births, mariages and deaths, all contracts and other legal documents were made by men, with men and for men. Under the French Regime, only men could legally transact – it was only in 1976 that women fully gained our Rights under the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedom.

One thing that seems apparent, is the geographic position of les Îles Dupas et du Chicot, making it the perfect location on the Voyageur hydrographic superhighway linking in all cardinal directions.

My ancestors, Jacques BRISSET and Louis DANDONNEAU, Seigneurs Courchesne and duSablé, appeared to attract many First Nation offspring to the Îles Dupas et du Chicot, and the other neighbouring islands of the Archipelago and linking Nitaskinan -Atikamekw land, Nistassinan -land of the Innu – Wâbuna’ki – land of the Abenaki, Kanien’kehá:ka – land of the Haudenosaunee and Waabanakiing – land of the Anishinaabe.

One thing is for sure when I look at my own First Grandmothers, Métis from Lanaudière are the product of much métissage between many Indigenous Nations.

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Blessings of Love and Peace for Ostara, Passover and Easter.

Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ.

 

 

 

 

 

Louis Durand’s Travels

My direct ancestor, Louis.

He came from a long line of Métis. From East to West, uniting Indigenous Peoples.

From the union of our earlier ancestor, French Settler Jean (1636-1671) and Catherine Anenonta (1649-1709), Attignawantan – People of the Bear, comes a long line of Métis.

For over 100 years, each generation explored the waterways West of  Kahnawáʼkye – Big Waterway.

Born in Berthier in Lanaudière, Louis, like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him, traveled to and from the Western part of Gichi gumi – Lake Superior.

In the 1784 to 1801, Louis took three contracts with McTavish Frobisher & Co. – which later became the North West Company. to Gichi-onigamiing – Grand Portage.

 

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In 1803, he would take contract to travel further West to Gojiji-zaaga’iganLac à la Pluie

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In a book by Joachim Fromhold titled: Pakisimotan Wi Iniwak – The Western Cree, a written history of Jacques Cardinal – one of the first of the famed Mountain Men of the West, we find several passages referring to Louis.

It appears from these memoirs that Louis traveled to Iyaghchi Eennu Sipi Lesser Slave River and Atikameg – Tête-Blanche – Whitefish:

The name-place Atikameg hit me like a jolt. I have other ancestors from Atikamekw communities in Tapiskwan Sipi –  Mauricie and Lanaudière.

Niw’hk’m’kanak – All Our Relations.

 

ALL OUR RELATIONS

The Lakota saying: Mitákuye Oyás’iŋThe phrase translates in English as “all my relatives,” “we are all related,” or “all my relations.” It is a prayer of oneness and harmony with all forms of life: other people, animals, birds, insects, trees and plants, and even rocks, rivers, mountains and valleys. (p.160,  ISBN 0-8061-3649-9.)

We are all related. All my relations.

What does that mean to me?

As the eldest of the eldest of the eldest, I benefited from knowing five of my great-grandparents – three of them with verifiable connections with a First Nation ancestor. All from the same historic communities in Lanaudière, Québec. All of them with kinship connections: cousins, aunties, uncles who settled in the West. All of them with kinship to Voyageurs, or Voyageurs themselves.

As every generation passes, as more of the elders passed on, the thread between kinship becomes thinner. To the glee of Colonizers. To the glee of Settler Governments.

Here are a few kinship connections. No matter which ancestor I choose, I can link them to each other, no matter where their travels have taken them and their descendants:

Here are a few examples: (click to see)

 

Our ancestors who were alive during the hanging of Louis Riel and who were able to recount our kinship connections passed on.

Settler Governments were able to begin to legislate the Rights of Métis.

1982: Enter Section 35 of the Constitution Act:

35. (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

(2) In this Act, “aboriginal peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1) “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.

(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

1993: Enter the Powley Test.

Let’s see if I can answer it with empirical evidence:

1. The characterization of the right claimed (eg: was it hunting for food?): Not claiming anything – yet.

2. Whether the claimant is a member of a contemporary Métis community:   Yes.

3. Identification of the historic Métis community:                    Lanaudière, Québec

4. Identification of the contemporary Métis community:         Lanaudière, Québec

5. The historical time-frame of the practice:                                 17th C to present

6. Whether the practice is integral to the culture of the claimant:                Yes.

7. Whether the proposed practice is continued by the Métis community:    Yes.

8. Whether the right was extinguished:                                              No. Occurring on unceded land. 

9. Whether the right was infringed upon:                                          To be continued

10. If the right was infringed, can that infringement can be justified:     To be continued

This exercise has allowed me to verify the empirical proof of my family’s oral history. It’s a pretty big deal to me. I wish to express gratitude to Dr. Sebastien Malette, Professor of Indigenous Law (Métis Rights) at Carleton University in Ottawa. I met Sebastien on the comment board at http://apihtawikosisan.com/2015/03/the-mythology-of-metissage-settler-moves-to-innocence/#comments on March 11, 2015. He has since then become a good friend, mentor and ally. If I would ever do a PhD, he’d be the guy who I’d beg to be my Advisor. Merci, cher Seb.