Graphic novel draws the ire of Manitoba Métis Federation, Métis National Council

A graphic novel published by a group called the Métis Nation of Canada (MNOC) is making the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Métis National Council unlikely allies.

Both are claiming the novel, Rocking Spurs The Anti-Bullying Tour, is cultural appropriation by a group that doesn’t truly exist.

“There is no such thing as Eastern Métis communities,” said Cassidy Caron, president of the MNC. “Our communities come from the historic northwest, there is no such thing as a Métis Innu community and we stand firm against this fight against the Eastern Métis. We don’t support the book we don’t support the work that the Metis Nation of Canada is doing and we will never condone this.”

The main character in Rocking Spurs is Kalani Simon, an Innu-Métis artist from northern Quebec. It tells the story of how Simon fights bullying on social media. Simon is being bullied because she’s Eastern Métis.

According to the novel, Simon tells her friend, “Some people deny the existence of the Métis people from Nova Scotia to eastern Ontario. They claim that anyone identifying as Eastern Métis is a race shifter and doing it for benefits, tax evasion and money. They claim we’re cheating First Nations of their lands and treaty rights.”

At Dalhousie University in Halifax, professor Lisa Binkley launched Rocking Spurs and announced the 1,500 copies were on their way to high school libraries across Canada.

“It’s based on the class that we were teaching that were covering those wide topics so what we did in the class was that we were discussing the ideas of Métisness or mixededness that are sort of prevalent in the media these days,” said Binkley.

“A lot of misunderstanding and I wanted to give students a class that you know really considered some of these ideas because you know we’re hearing the word pretendian we’re hearing that you know the eastern metis is a myth.”

The book is a result of Binkley’s class called Métis History and Culture which explores the emergence of Métis people in Canada from the mid-1600s in the east and their migration west.

The claim that the Métis originated in the East is echoed by characters in Rocking Spurs,

“My family is Cree-Métis from Alberta and even we know that the first Métis were born on the east coast over 400 years ago.”

David Chartrand, president of the MMF, said this idea isn’t founded on fact.

“To state that the Métis of Red River migrated eastern Canada from Nova Scotia, that we migrate over there and we found our way to the Prairies is absolutely absurd,” Chartrand told APTN News. “It’s insulting. It’s damaging and it will truly hurt a lot of people.”

Rocking Spurs is based on a novel donated by Karole Dumont, the head of the MNOC.

A class project, Rocking Spurs was adapted by Binkley’s students.

All royalties of Rocking Spurs go to the MNOC.

Binkley is a member of the MNOC – an organization that isn’t recognized by the federal government and whose membership requires a single Indigenous ancestry – no matter how distant.

Chartrand said the students were misled.

“I used to believe and trust in the university, the brand Dalhousie,” said Chartrande. “You’re supposed to trust the professors that they are going to bring legitimate legal real true stories to you that you can have the chance to reflect, debate, review and do research if necessary but by bring you fantasy and fakes and misleading misguiding you is trapping you.”

Cassidy Caron said she wants all copies of Rocking Spurs recalled.

“It should be our Métis governments who are telling these stories it should not be these false Indigenous bodies who claim to represent Métis and continue to spread this misinformation,” she said. “We will be taking action and reaching out to the and reaching out to the school boards that have accepted these books.”

The Toronto Catholic School Board District confirmed to APTN News that Rocking Spur was received and is currently under review by the boards Indigenous education department.

The Toronto District School Board website lists the graphic novel in 17 school libraries, did not reply at time of publish.

Dalhousie University declined to comment to APTN News interview request.

Chartrand said that is problematic.

“This also draws the question to Dalhousie, how serious is your procurement of your policy on the promise of ensuring us as Indigenous leaders, Indigenous Nations as the Red River Metis of the west, how secure is your polices to ensure that you are not going to allow this to happen again.”

The Rocking Spurs class project was supported by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the New Frontiers Research Fund, Indigenous Approaches to the Western Literary and Caron will be contacting the funders,

“It was concerning to see that SSHRC was involved in funding this and we will also be reaching out to SSHRC to strengthen that relationship and help them to understand that you know the harm that they do as an institution to fund this ongoing misinformation campaign is harmful to our self-determination and our sovereignty as Indigenous people.”

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