Métis Exist Outside the West
Publication: Windspeaker Online - Aboriginal News (link)
Publication Date: 01 October 2003
Author: Crows, Phil Two
Dear Editor: I just read the August 2003 edition of Windspeaker and was especially drawn to pages 27 and 30 concerning the Western Metis people and their plight for government redemption and restitution. Marvelously written by you folks; excellent coverage.
I am an East Coast Metis person, descended from Dutch, Scottish, German and also Mi'kmaq ancestors. My grandmother's people are Mikmaw from Nova Scotia, and I have traced her lineage back to the early 1700s around Annapolis Royal, where her ancestors fought and defeated a company of New England raiders at the Battle of Bloody Creek.
Many who participated in this battle were Mi'kmaq pure-bloods, French-Acadian pure-bloods, and some Meteese (an old Acadian word which designated half-bloods) from the area.
I'm informing you of this simply to state that the Metis people did not originate in the Western provinces, but in Eastern Canada. I realize you probably already know this, but many do not, which makes the Metis people outside of "Riel Country" the true hidden Aboriginals.
Even more people fail to realize that before German colonists were settled in the town of La Have, N.S., it was a Metis town, dwelt in by half-bred farmers, hunters and fishermen.
La Have was recognized by the Acadians and British as being a Metis town earlier than 1720. There were Metis people living elsewhere, such as Port Royale (later named Annapolis Royal by British 'planters') and along the St. John River in New Brunswick, where an island near to Fredericton City was once called Isle De Meteese, before the Loyalists came.
Eastern Metis men were so integral to the Atlantic fur trade that they were called captains by the Europeans, and were hired as traders, interpreters, guides, hunters and negotiators.
Some even married chiefs' daughters and became chiefs themselves. One in particular--the Baron St. Castin--became a true baron under French authority through his European father (a baron) and a chief of the Wabanaki, because his mother was the daughter of Chief Madokawando of the Abenaki people.
However, despite what I've written above, it is not the reason I have written to you. I wish to express my interest in Metis people and culture across Canada and to agree with others as to the true importance a pardon for Mr. Louis Riel will have on the future interests of the federal and provincial governments, and the Metis (if not all Aboriginal people). I realize that many say Louis Riel doesn't have to be pardoned, and I would normally agree, since their land was not an official part of Canada at that time, and no treason was committed therefore.
However, the reality of a true pardon would be important in many ways, not the least of which would be to alleviate certain anxieties of those people who need acts to be made official or put on paper.
The most important reason is what the Metis people will thereafter mean to the federal government and how it will react to their claims, rights, and status.
Another reason would be to make Louis Riel into a national figurehead that Metis across Canada can rally around (much like many Eastern tribes have pictures of Sitting Bull and Geronimo as symbols of Native pride, even if these tribes are not Sioux or Apache.)
A third reason would be to alter Canadian history in a way to portray the Metis people, as a whole, in a more positive light to modern day school kids.
The pride of the Western Metis is not diminished, whether the government grants a pardon or not.
I realize many Metis in the West, as well as government officials and even First Nation people, are uninformed, ignore, or even brush aside the fact of Metis/Meteese being anywhere outside the West, but for all of that, we are here. We've been here since the first lonely European sailor set foot on Atlantic Canada. We exist, and continue to do so with increasing pride and awareness.
Phil Two Crows