Compiling a complete list of bogus career Aboriginals unmasked in recent years would be a tedious exercise. In the vast majority of cases, the usurpers who made the headlines relied on French-Canadian family legends to invent an ethnicity. Given this context, as well as the non-education in Aboriginal realities that almost all of us have received in the school system, it may be useful to recall some basic notions.

The fur trade was a violent affair. During the XVIIIe century, the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), a British Crown corporation, was in open competition with several Montreal-based companies, the owners of which were often Americans. In 1821, the British authorities finally forcibly merged the HBC and its main rival, the North West Company, establishing a monopoly on the prized resource.

With the end of the fur war came layoffs. Overnight, hundreds of travelers who spent their lives between Quebec (mainly) and the West were dumped by the system. Some have returned to the east. Others remained as free agents, henceforth autonomous from both the HBC and Canadian institutions, entering into a form of radical break with colonial society. A very rare historical phenomenon.

Those who were first called the Bois-Brûlés are the children of these men (mainly French-speaking, but also Americans, English, Irish, Scottish) and of mainly Cree and Ojibway women. Quickly, this generation and those who followed it organized themselves independently, distinct both from communities of European origin and from neighboring First Nations. They have established their own code of laws, their own language – Michif – their own buffalo hunting techniques, their own agricultural traditions and their own nomadic land use practices.

It is these people who sought to be consulted, included and respected when the Hudson’s Bay Company sold Rupert’s Land to the Government of Canada – and Prime Minister John A. Macdonald sought to found there. new provinces, including Manitoba. Who was despised by the settlers from Ontario and mobilized by the Canadian Party, a political movement driven by white supremacy, Francophobia and anti-Catholicism. Who rose up on several occasions, notably with Louis Riel, to demand a government in his image in Manitoba, then in Saskatchewan. Who was forced by the Canadian government into exile and dispersal, from northwestern Ontario to the Northwest Territory, passing through Alberta, North Dakota and Montana.

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It is this people who for generations were reduced to daily labor, poverty and wandering as Canadian authorities distributed farmland to immigrants from Europe. It is this people who have too often been forced to settle in makeshift settlements along railroads or in slums on the outskirts of large prairie cities, such as Winnipeg’s Rooster Town. It is this people, the Métis people, who ended up, after decades of fighting and a standoff with Pierre Elliot Trudeau, by receiving an official mention in the Canadian Constitution of 1982.

Are you Métis? If this story is not yours or your family’s, the answer is no. If you are from Eastern Canada, the answer is necessarily no. When we take the trouble to learn and understand the history of the Métis Nation, we can see how absurd it is to think that it is an individual identity based on mixed origins, real or imagined, rather than a full-fledged people.

Louis Riel’s great-great-niece Jean Teillet makes an interesting observation in his Métis history book The North-West Is Our Mother. She relates that some of the Métis (moreover quite visible on social media) give their people the name of “Mitchif” (Michif in English), like the language, a spelling that corresponds to the historical pronunciation. Psychologically, the difference is significant. If I ask “are you Mitchif?” ”, No francophone would be tempted to answer yes in reference to mixed origins. The word “Inuit”, for example, certainly means “people”, but no one will use it to claim, in general, of a people. The French origin of the word “Métis”, coupled with ignorance and disinformation, increases the risks of identity theft. A new generation is therefore looking for tactics to escape this trap.

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Are there any post-contact Aboriginal peoples other than the Métis? Sure. We could speak of the Seminoles, a nation that was formed from several peoples who fled American colonization to Florida, which remained under Spanish control until 1822. They were joined by Africans who escaped from it. slavery and integrated into indigenous structures. The Métis and the Seminoles are the fruit of perfect political storms in the midst of colonial wars that never had their equivalent in Quebec.

You are (probably) no more Métis than you are Seminole, then. Just as you are not an Indigenous person without status, unless one of your parents or grandparents is from a specific community and that community recognizes and accepts you as one of the their. You are no longer Métis or Aboriginal in general if your complexion becomes a little copper in the summer, if you feel good in nature or if you had an Aboriginal ancestor in the 17th century.e century (I have heard this kind of reflections all my life, I must not be the only one).

And you know what ? It doesn’t take anything away from you. You are fine the way you are. We can (we must) get involved in reconciliation from our real roots.

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