Métis, who are they?


Host Melissa Ridgen and her guests dig deep into the discussion about what makes the Métis, Métis.

Some say it’s simply the children of Indigenous and European parents.  But can it be anyone who has Indigenous ancestors in their bloodline?

Or is it a culture that’s evolved over decades from its roots of European fur traders and Indigenous peoples? Does having an Indigenous ancestor make you Métis? It’s tough to find national consensus.

Groups in Eastern Canada say that having an Indigenous ancestor in your history, even hundreds of years ago, makes a person Métis.

Darryl Leroux said it does not.

“I have access to over 5,000 individual genealogies that are used by organizations, they basically presented them in court cases, and looking through those 500 geologies of eastern Métis organizations and individuals that are claiming that identity. Eighty per cent of those 5,000, the individuals are relying on a woman in the 1600s as the basis of their Indigenous identity,” said Leroux, who is an associate professor in the department of Social Justice and Community Studies at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

He said in many cases he found that in 30 per cent of the overall claims the individual has no Indigenous ancestry.

“Because what happens is that there is a bunch of French women, particularly in Nova Scotia and Acadia who are turned into Indigenous women for the purpose of this movement. And this is stuff the present in court as evidence of their existence,” Leroux explained.

He’s been researching the subject of Métis identity extensively.

But Greg Burke of the Atlantic Aboriginal Nations disagrees.

“We just come out of the closet, because in the 1500s when the first mixed marriage happened here and we have all kinds of records in the 1600s and 1700s with the mixed marriages, the Jesuit priest named the children metissage and that’s how they were referred to. In all of the historian records they are referred to either as Acadian, Acadian Metis or Metis,” said Burke.

Burke has been involved with other Metis organizations in the east such as the Bras d’Or Lake Métis Nation.  He has been an advocate for the Metis in the east for years.

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