In 1637, missionaries of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, found a mission outside the village of Kébec. The Jesuits choose an important site for the First Nations, known as Kamisk8a 8angachit – the eel tip and the place to fish (known as Sillery).
Initially, the reduction of Sillery is called the St. Joseph Mission (not to be confused with its namesake created in 1680 in the Country of the Illinois Nation). The goal is sedentarization, conversion to Catholicism, and the education of the neighboring First Nations – Innu Nations, Atikamekw, Algonquin, the Wendat Nation, and even some converts from the Mohawk and Abenaki Nation. At the same time, unions between Nations, including that of the Settlers, are encouraged by missionaries because this type of union
will oblige all savages to love the French as their brothers. They testify to wish it with passion, for they never have more satisfaction with our speeches when we promise them that we will take their daughters in marriage, for after that there is a thousand applause. They tell us that when we do this marriage, they will hold us as their nation, considering the descent and kinship of families by their wives and not by men, all the more so, say he, that we know that the mother of the child, but not sternly who is the father.
At first, the Jesuits think that
These marriages can not produce any bad inconvenience, for never will savage wives seduce their husbands to live miserable in the woods, as do the peoples of New France, and the children who will be born of these marriages may be none other than Christians, nourished and raise up among the French and in their dwelling, besides that there is no appearance, in the docility of this people who is not warned of any other religion, that the married woman can not easily be solved. to follow the religion of her husband, in which, when she considers only the diversity of life, she will embrace a life of angels instead of the misery of other savage women
In the first decade, the mission was renamed in honor of Noël BRÛLARD de Sillery, a Frenchman turned Jesuit who donated his property to establish a mission to evangelize the First Nations of New France. Houses, a chapel, a mill and a bastioned enclosure are built there.
Thanks to the Sillery Register, which contains marriages and baptisms, the list of residents of 1666 and the Confession and Enumeration of 1678, we can see the acts of some 400 men, women and children who lived at the Mission.
The Sillery Register reflects the “Pan-Indigenous” role of Sillery’s mission. Representatives of several Nations visit or stay there: in addition to Montagnais and Algonquins of the beginning, there are Attikameks, Hurons, Nipissiriens, Abenaki, Socoquis, etc., who come to learn about the faith. . The presence or stay in Sillery of great figures of the Amerindian world like Noël Negabamat / Tekouerimat, Makheabichigiou, Pigarouich and Tgondatsa, confirm the role played by Sillery in Amerindian relations. Originally intended for the Algonquins and Montagnais, Sillery then welcomed the Abenaki, whose presence is reported from 1676 to 1688. This is the densest period of the register for the frequency of baptisms. In fact, most of the Aboriginal baptisms attributed to Sillery (1,099 out of 1,716, or 64%)
At birth, the child receives a Native American name of his own; at baptism, we give him a Christian name. Amerindians have no surnames and it is exceptional that the child has the same name as his father. Some
many Amerindians have inherited French nicknames, indicated in French in the Latin text: L’Arquebuze, Le Marchant, Castillon, Compere Colas, the great Jacques, etc.
From 1687, and for non-obvious reasons, the Pan-Indigenous families, now fluent in the French language, leave Sillery and the mission is abandoned.
At the same time, the Pan-Indigenous families of the late Charles PACHIRINI, Sachem of the Makwag clan of the WESKARINI Nation (nicknamed the Little Mission), leave the Montmagny Fief near the Tapiskwan River (known as the Saint-Maurice) where these Christian First Nations settled.
From 1690 onward, we begin to find the families from these two sites at the Seigneury of the ile Dupas-et-du-Chicot, which Charles Aubert de la Chesnaye had conceded to Louis DANDONNEAU and his brother-in-law Jacques BRISSET. The site, which consists of a network of islands upstream of Lake Nebesek (also known as Angouleme and Saint-Pierre), had never been inhabited continuously before. The archipelago was a fishing and hunting area used by many neighboring First Nations.
In 1699, both Sillery and Pachirini’s fief were removed from the “Savages” and handed over to the Jesuits. The document indicates that the “Indians” had abandoned the sites near the Jesuit lands. The document was made between Hector de CALLIÈRES and the Jesuits, without any participation or consent of any First Nations representative or their descendants.
Further research is needed to examine the impacts of this legal document on the land claims of First Nations and Metis descendants who had their rights revoked in these territories.
Pierre de SESMAISONS, Raisons qui peuvent induire Sa Saincteté à permettre aux François qui habitent la Nouvelle-France d’espouser dez filles sauvages, quoyque non baptisées ny mesmes encorre beaucoup instruictes à la foy chrestienne [avant 1635] MNFIII
Léo-Paul HÉBERT, Évangéliser les Amérindiens : Le vieux Registre de Sillery (1638-1688) Je me souviens… Numéro 31, automne 1992 URI : id.erudit.org/iderudit/8112ac
Jean COURNOYER, La Mémoire du Québec, de 1534 à nos jours, Stanké 2001
The Lakota saying: Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ. The 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.