The Metis Nation, The MNO, and a Jarring Report On Identity

As a matter of noting impactful history as it’s occurring, a report presented at the March 9/10 Metis National Council’s (MNC), “Métis Identity, Citizenship & Homeland” conference in Saskatchewan, shocked many in attendance. It uncovered a troubling history that has led to serious issues for the Metis, now currently embroiled in what amounts to a ‘hostile takeover’ of their nation.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, let alone shocked about what we learned, because I am already well-aware of the immense issue for the Metis Nation in having to defend its identity and rights again. I’m well-versed in the history of the thousands of Canadians who more recently claim to be Metis, although many are seriously mistaken at best and others are purely fraudulent at worst.

The report presented wasn’t about those thousands of claims outside of the historical Metis communities, i.e.) those from regions in, and east of, Quebec. It concentrated on the claims of the legitimate Metis Nation’s own affiliate, the Metis Nation Ontario (MNO), one of five MNC affiliates.

Many already knew the MNO was fraught with membership filled with illegitimate claims of Metis ancestry and in 2019 they admitted to an overwhelming number; perhaps 90% of their membership, they said.

That’s an astounding statement and regardless of the accuracy of that estimation, what percentage would they consider acceptable? That wasn’t the only issue at hand. The affiliate was also called into question after working unilaterally with the Province of Ontario government to grant ‘historical Metis settlement’ status to 6 regions in Ontario outside of the Metis Nation historical homeland boundaries. The MNC, its other affiliate presidents and the Metis citizens were not included in that process.

Essentially then, the MNO is therefore mainly comprised of Ontarians of various ancestry who self-declared they were Metis and were accepted and seemingly legitimized by the MNO. If there are enough of these individuals in a particular region, this is taken as proof of the existence of a historical Métis “community”.

In November of 2018, the MNC and the other affiliates, with the exception of Alberta – which apparently has serious leadership [and membership] issues according to statements made at the March 10 meeting – voted to put the MNO on probation for one year to allow time to sort and re-register their members to fit the criteria of Metis Nation identity. Incidentally, that criteria aren’t different from any other world nation, which include immediate relation to the ancestry of the known Metis Nation families. The criteria was unanimously ratified by the Metis Nation in 2002. The MNO participated in that ratification.

Back to 20 years later, and the one-year MNO probation term is over. The MNC, for which leadership is voted for & provided by its affiliate presidents, requested to review the new registers. The MNO responded with an incredulous refusal, stating they had their own ‘independent oversight’ and that the MNC were unwelcome ‘outsiders’.

They’d essentially announced they were a nation unto themselves and they went to Canada directly to try to create that into fact. They called it a ‘self-governance agreement’, which the government called ‘a step toward self-governance agreement’. What that will turn out to be is another story, but a main point is a clause in the agreement that states the MNO will get to decide for itself who is “Metis”.

An easy out compared to having to tell thousands of Ontarians they’re not Metis, some of whom hold influential positions in general society. There are also millions of dollars at stake in annual funding to oversee programs meant for the Indigenous, and specifically for, the Metis. If the MNO were to fail at attaining a new, unrelated pan-Indigenous nation recognized by Canada, that would make some of those members, not Metis, but non-status First Nations. Likely a good number would simply be recognized as non-Indigenous Canadians.

That’s the background to the March 9/10 MNC meeting. Here’s part of what’s stunning. The background historical research used by the MNO and the Ontario Government to justify inclusion of Ontario-based regions/people sometimes reads like a middle school copy & pasted book report. The conflations of ancestral claims are so flimsy in places, that at one point they barely bothered to provide evidence before bestowing the Metis flag to one region.

As is commonly practised by ‘self-identifiers’ in the further east, the Metis titles given by the MNO were based on claims of ancestry in nations unrelated to the Metis; on ancestors who were Europeans re-made into Indigenous; on ancestors that were and still are known as First Nations, whose descendants still live on the same reserves; by claiming First Nations villages were Metis; or as one person at the meeting stated, if a picture of their grandparents ‘looked Native’ to the registrar, they would be accepted. These people now outnumber the legitimate Metis in Ontario.

Excluding the MNO, the fight today is from within, from those who would allow anyone of any Indigenous ancestry to claim to be Metis vs. those who denounce the pan-Indigenous idea over their own unique, rich and richly established history, which included the herculean win in 1982 to achieve the recognition and rights to Section 35 of the Constitution for that nation.

To my mind, it should be abundantly clear. I am a Metis Citizen. Like those in the other affiliates, I proved my ancestry according to the legitimate standards. I know my ancestors stand with us.

——————————————————————————-

The MNC invite citizens and the public to read the report provided by Dr. Darryl Leroux, doctorate in Sociology and Anthropology, Assoc. Prof., Department of Social Justice and Community Studies at Saint Mary’s University and Prof. Darren O’Toole, Metis, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

RL

12 thoughts on “The Metis Nation, The MNO, and a Jarring Report On Identity

  1. One factor that was not mentioned is that it is very difficult to prove Metis ancestry for priest in parishes Or other local public registrars more often then not would not identify if the child or adult was indigenous for , as we know, it seemed best to hide it. It came back to haunt us who would really like to know who we are. What we do have are stories told and pictures, some of us have been trying to prove it for a while without much success. Nevertheless, we know and we are proud Métis! Proof is almost impossible because of the fear the people had during a long time in many communities of identifying themselves as Métis. That’s the way it was then but this is now!

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    • I would suggest you read the report in full. We often hear reasons for why the people in the east are unable to definitively provide reasonable proof, one of which is that somehow all the records in those regions were unavailable for any number of reasons, and yet, there are very little issues with the legitimate Metis Nation recorded history.

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        • Well, Archie, here’s what I suggest instead: Ask for accredited history scholars (plural) to vet that proof for you, especially if they challenge your findings in a way that closes holes and provides definitive conclusions that other accredited historians can’t dispute. Publish that proof.

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  2. ouch I feel your pain … it is wrong! Seems like most groups have imposters claiming for many reasons if they believe it might entitle them to grant and land grabs … no idea how you patrol/control this 😦

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    • Yes, that’s absolutely correct, Kate. In fact, they are particularly virulent groups, all seeming to be lead by the self-claimed title of “grand chief” or ” whatever chief”, (although none of their members can ever say when an actual election was held). They regularly try to work on personal harassment, doxxing, calling employers, associations and such because they have not one fact they can employ to dispute or refute the scholars who I quote.

      We have to patrol our own nations and that’s what drives them up the wall. Their period of taking advantage of a lack of education across Canada is coming to an end.

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  3. What exactly is considered proof of Metis heredity and are you certified to make this call for people of Indigenous decent?

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    • Thank you for asking, Mary Anne (Mary St Denis Ouellette). The Metis Nation has five affiliates that have full and accessible application forms. The forms note that, in order to be a citizen of the Metis Nation, one must provide proof that one’s immediate family is related to the Metis families on record. It’s that simple.

      As for French Canadians who wish to insist they are Indigenous because they have an Indigenous ancestor at any point in their family background, well that’s something to take up with Canada, not the Metis Nation. Your group’s leader is aware of all this, but like many, they insist instead, to personally attack those who show them why their reasoning is wrong.

      When you have actual proof of anything, you take it to the governing body for review and acceptance. Unfortunately, despite years of attempting to locate this proof, even with the help of the legitimate Metis Nation’s historians, that proof has never been validated.

      Several court cases with the same provided efforts of ‘proof’ have only resulted in losses. There is no proof. Perhaps that’s why the Karole Dumont-Becketts et al resort to personal harassment in the form of stalking, doxxing, and ad hominem attacks when she is asked to provide proof outside of simple proclamations.

      It’s a wonder that none in her group(s) think to ask her to specify and show what she has done with the funds she’s collected from them over the years that were raised for legal cases. None have been initiated by her. So, while the Metis Nation deals with its own issues, perhaps the people who still believe anyone of any Indigenous ancestry is what it means to be Metis, will get out of our way and take their case to Canada.

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