I just received a copy of my most recent article but first one in Internet Genealogy: “Indigenous Settlers: Your Metis Genealogy Online”. It looks and reads great, but it was a tricky one to write. I put as a disclaimer in the text two important lines: Metis “are a specific post-contact Indigenous people of mixed First Nations and European ancestry, with their own separate culture, traditions, language and nationhood.” “This article does not go into the controversy or issues surrounding Metis identity, but more information on this is available through the Metis National Council.”
Why the carefully defined lines? Because as I’ve been reading in-depth discussions on nationhood and all that entails, Metis identity is a mind field in Canada that many non-Metis people are not even slightly attuned to. In Dr. Chris Anderson’s pivotal work “Metis – Race, Recognition and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood” he bluntly calls out the misconception of Metis people being simply mixed that most Canadians have, or that we are similar if not exactly ‘like’ First Nations people. But the problem is the right questions have not been asked, Anderson points out. Stats Canada, officials from all sides, and the Metis themselves are not asking if you are a member of the Metis Nation, but relying only on self identification. Many people check the box now that days they’re Metis, but have zero clue what that actually means as a community member, or what historical impact that check mark has.
My article then, is not about who is or who is not Metis, or even that question. It was written definitely for the people curious about their Metis ancestors, not if a person whose grandma was Metis or not means you are now. That’s a complicated and nuanced discussion best left for books, and for a deep dive into your own reasons for the ancestry searches.