Understanding our past, reclaiming our culture: Métis resiliency and connection to land in the face of colonialism

  • Monique D Auger Simon Fraser University
Keywords: Métis people, colonialism, identity, land, resilience, intergenerational trauma

Abstract

The colonial legacy for Métis people has included the far-reaching impacts of residential and day schools, forced adoption, dislocation from the land, cultural oppression, and denial of existence. This qualitative study explores the complexity relationships with land, identity, and resilience for Métis people, within the context of colonialism. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 33 Métis community members living in British Columbia, Canada. This research highlights the impacts of assimilation on Métis identity and knowledge with stories that speak to shame, hidden identity, and loss of culture. Participants also clearly articulated the ways in which Métis people have been impacted from intergenerational trauma. Findings from this research also include Métis relationships with, and responsibilities to, the land. Despite the challenges that many Métis individuals, families, and communities have faced as a result of colonialism, resistance and resilience were thoroughly demonstrated, with stories of bravery, resistance, and gratitude. As a whole, experiences of oppression, survival and resilience have powerfully shaped who we are as Métis people.

References

Absolon, K. (2010). Indigenous wholistic theory: A knowledge set for practice. First Peoples Child & Family Review, 5(2), 74-87. https://fpcfr.com/index.php/FPCFR/article/view/95

Absolon, K. (2011). Kaandossiwin: How we come to know. Fernwood.

Absolon, K. & Willet, C. (2005). Putting ourselves forward: Location in Aboriginal research. In L. Brown & S. Strega (Eds.), Research as resistance: Critical, Indigenous, and anti-oppressive approaches (pp. 97-126). Canadian Scholar’s Press.

Allard, Y. E. (2007). Métis concepts of health: Placing health within a social-cultural context. Social, economic and environmental (ecological) determinants of Métis health. Métis National Council and National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health. http://som.flinders.edu.au/FUSA/SACHRU/Symposium/Canadian%20Case%20Study%20-%20Metis.pdf

Andersen, C. (2014). Metis: Race, recognition, and the struggle for Indigenous peoplehood. UBC Press.

Auger, M. D. (2016). Cultural continuity as a determinant of Indigenous Peoples’ health: A metasynthesis of qualitative research in Canada and the United States. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, 7(4), 1-24. https://doi.org/10.18584/iipj.2016.7.4.3

Auger, M. D. (2017). Understanding our past, reclaiming our culture: Conceptualizing Métis culture and mental health in British Columbia. [Unpublished master’s thesis]. Simon Fraser University.

Auger, M. D. (2019). “We need to not be footnotes anymore”: Understanding Métis people’s experiences with mental health and wellness in British Columbia, Canada. Public Health, 176, 92-97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2018.12.001

Barman, J. & Evans, M. (2009). Reflections on being, and becoming, Métis in British Columbia. BC Studies, 161, 59-91. https://doi.org/10.14288/bcs.v0i161.559

Bartlett, J. G. (2003). Conceptions and dimensions of health and well-being for Métis women in Manitoba. Journal of Circumpolar Health, 63(Suppl2), 107-113. https://doi.org/10.3402/ijch.v63i0.17868

Bombay, A., Matheson, K., & Anisman, H. (2014). The intergenerational effects of Indian Residential Schools: Implications for the concept of historical trauma. Transcultural Psychiatry, 51(3), 320-338. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363461513503380

Bourassa, C. (2011). Métis health: The invisible problem. JCharlton Publishing.

Browne, A. J., Smye, V. L., & Varcoe, C. (2005). The relevance of postcolonial theoretical perspectives to research in Aboriginal health. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 37(4), 16-37.

Castellano, M. (2008). Indigenous research. In L. Given (Ed.), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods (pp. 424-428). Sage Publications.

Chartrand, L. N., Logan, T. E., & Daniels, J. D. (2006). Métis history and experience and residential schools in Canada. Aboriginal Healing Foundation. http://www.ahf.ca/downloads/metiseweb.pdf

Chartrand, C., L., A., H. (2007). Niw_Hk_M_Kanak (“All My Relations”): Metis-First Nations Relations. National Centre for First Nations Governance. https://fngovernance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/paul_chartrand.pdf

Creswell, J. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (2nd ed.). Sage.

Daniels v. Canada (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), 2016 SCC 12, 1 SCR 99 (2016). https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/15858/index.do

Daniels, G. (2017, January 27). Harry Daniels and the Daniels case: A son’s perspective on the man, his legacy and vision for a united Métis Nation [Panel presentation] Daniels Conference: In and Beyond the Law. Rupertsland Centre for Métis Research, Edmonton, AB, Canada.

Dion, J. F. (1979). My tribe the Crees. Glenbow-Alberta Institute.

Dion Stout, M. (2012). Ascribed health and wellness, “Atikowisi miýwāyāwin,” to achieved health and wellness, “Kaskitamasowin miýw-āyāwin”: Shifting the paradigm. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 44(2), 11–14.

Dyck, M. (2009). Social determinants of Métis health. National Aboriginal Health Organization. https://fnim.sehc.com/getmedia/960a0972-2313-4fff-b0dd-f407fc71c94d/Research_SocialDeterminantsofHealth.pdf.aspx?ext=.pdf

Edge, L. & McCallum, T. (2006). Métis identity: Sharing traditional knowledge and healing practices at Métis Elders’ gatherings. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health, 4(2), 83-115.

Evans, M., Gareau, M., Krebs, L., Neilson, L., & Standeven, H. (Eds.). (1999). What it is to be a Métis: The stories and recollections of the Elders of the Prince George Métis Elders Society. University of Northern British Columbia Press. https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1186&context=aprci

First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC). (2014). OCAP: Ownership, control, access and possession: The path to First Nations information governance. https://fnigc.ca/sites/default/files/docs/ocap_path_to_fn_information_governance_en_final.pdf

Gagnon, D. (2016, June 21). The “other” Métis. The Canadian Encyclopedia. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/the-other-metis/

Gaudry, A. (2018). Communing with the dead: The “New Métis,” Métis identity appropriation, and the displacement of living Métis culture. American Indian Quarterly, 42(2), 162-190. https://www.muse.jhu.edu/article/693376

Goulet, G. & Goulet, T. (2009). The Métis in British Columbia: From Fur Trade Outposts to Colony. FabJob Inc.

Green, J. (2011). Don’t tell us what we are (not): Reflections on Métis identity. aboriginal policy studies, 1(2), 166-170. https://doi.org/10.5663/aps.v1i2.11687

Hart, M. A. (2010). Indigenous worldviews, knowledge, and research: The development of an Indigenous research paradigm. Indigenous Voices in Social Work, 1(1), 1-16. http://hdl.handle.net/10125/12527

Hodgson-Smith, K. L. & Kermoal, N. (2016). Community-based research and Métis women’s knowledge in Northwestern Saskatchewan. In N. Kermoal and I. Altamirano-Jaiménez (Eds.). Living on the land: Indigenous women’s understanding of place (pp. 139-167). Athabasca University Press.

Isaac, T. (2016). A matter of national and constitutional import: Report of the Minister’s special representative on reconciliation with Métis: Section 35 Métis rights and the Manitoba Metis Federation Decision. https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/DAM/DAM-INTER-HQ-AI/STAGING/texte-text/report_reconciliation_1471371154433_eng.pdf

Iseke, J. (2010). Importance of Métis ways of knowing in healing communities. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 33(1), 83-155.

Kermoal, N. (2016). Métis women’s environmental knowledge and the recognition of Métis rights. In N. Kermoal and I. Altamirano-Jaiménez (Eds.). Living on the land: Indigenous women’s understanding of place (pp. 107-137). Athabasca University Press.

Kolopenuk, J. (2018). “Pop-up” Métis and the rise of Canada’s post-Indigenous formation. World Anthropologies, 120(2), 333-337. https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13044

Kovach, M. (2009). Indigenous methodologies: Characteristics, conversations and contexts. University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division.

Kovach, M., Carriere, J., Barrett, M.J., Montgomery, H., & Gillies, C. (2013). Stories of diverse identity locations in Indigenous research. International Review of Qualitative Research 8(4), 487-509. https://doi.org/10.1525/irqr.2013.6.4.487

Leclair, C. (2002). Memory alive: Race, religion, and Métis identities. Essays in Canadian Writing, 75, 159-176.

Legault, G. (2015). Mixed messages: Deciphering the Okanagan’s historic McDougall family. Canadian Archaeological Association, 39(2), 241-256.

Leroux, D. (2018). “We’ve been here for 2,000 years”: White settlers, Native American DNA and the phenomenon of indigenization. Social Studies of Science, 48(1), 80-100.

Logan, T. (2015). Settler colonialism in Canada and the Métis. Journal of Genocide Research, 17(4), 433-452. https://doi.org/10.10080/14623528.2015.1096589

Loppie Reading, C. & Wien, F. (2009). Health inequalities and social determinants of Aboriginal peoples’ health. National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health. https://www.nccah-ccnsa.ca/docs/social%20determinates/nccah-loppie-wien_report.pdf

Macdougall, B. (2017). Land, family and identity: Contextualizing Metis health and well-being. National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health. https://www.ccnsa-nccah.ca/docs/context/RPT-ContextualizingMetisHealth-Macdougall-EN.pdf

Métis National Council. (2010, July 17). Still no justice for Métis residential school survivors. http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/still-no-justice-for-metis-residential-school-survivors-544257182.html

Métis National Council. (2011). Métis registration guide. http://www.metisnation.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/M%C3%A9tis-Registration-Guide.pdf

Métis National Council. (2015, June 2). Métis Nation disappointed in final report of the TRC. http://www.metisnation.ca/index.php/news/metis-nation-disappointed-in-final-report-of-the-trc

Monchalin, R., Smylie, J., & Bourgeois, C. (2020). “It’s not like I’m more Indigenous there and I’m less Indigenous here.”: Urban Métis women’s identity and access to health and social services in Toronto, Canada. AlterNative, 16(4), 323-331. https://doi.org/10.1177/1177180120967956

Nelson, M. (2011). Becoming Métis. In A. H. Deming and L. E. Savoy (Eds.). The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World (pp. 146-152). Milkweed Editions.

Neylan, S. (2003). The Heavens are Changing: Nineteenth Century Protestant Missions and Tsimshian Christianity. Montreal, QC: McGill-Queen’s Press.

Peters, E. J. (2011). Emerging themes in academic research in urban Aboriginal identities in Canada, 1996-2010. aboriginal policy studies, 1(1), 78-105. doi: 10.5663/aps.v1i1.9242

R. v. Powley, 2003 SCC 43, 2 SCR 207 (2003). https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/2076/index.do

Richardson, C. (2006). Métis identity creation and tactical responses to oppression and racism. Variegations, 2, 56-71.

Richardson, C. (2016). Belonging Métis. JCharlton Publishing.

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. (1996). Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services. https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/aboriginal-heritage/royal-commission-aboriginal-peoples/Pages/final-report.aspx

Sloan, K. (2017). Dealing with the “community conundrum”: Metis responses to the application of R v Powley in British Columbia—litigation, negotiation, and practice. aboriginal policy studies, 6(2), 48-86.

Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. (2013). “The people who own themselves”: Recognition of Métis identity in Canada. Parliament of Canada. https://sencanada.ca/Content/SEN/Committee/411/appa/rep/rep12jun13-e.pdf

Teillet, J. (2009). Métis law summary 2009. http://www.pstlaw.ca/resources/MLS-2009%20FINAL.pdf

Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (2015). Canada’s residential schools: The Métis experience. The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. http://www.trc.ca/assets/pdf/Volume_3_Metis_English_Web.pdf

Tuck, E. & Yang, E. W. (2012). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1(1), 1-40.

Wilson, S. (2008). Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Fernwood.

Published
2021-04-02
Section
Articles