All things considered, there are many people I need to thank.
People who I expected to help me understand concepts that were new to me.
People who I can learn from.
People who would possibly one day teach my own child
People that have been so focused on pursuing an ideology I have difficulties understanding.
The first people I turned to were blunt: my Métis identity was akin to fraud.
Worse, it was Indigenous Appropriation.
But, and very importantly, they never asked me what I thought I knew about where I come from, who my ancestors are, what oral history was passed to me.
I have written in past posts about such experiences, and have Storified some, Here are a few examples:
“Discussion on rights to (re)claim Métis identity” part one and part deux
And there were more…
We have a hard time shedding Colonialism when speaking to each other, and request – nay – DEMAND empirical proof. Oral history? Pfft.
Anyways, here’s what I found, explaining the relationship between Métis of Lanaudière and Métis of the Red River:
The page above is from a book published in 1889 about the Parish of Berthier. Page 105 is a review of the Church records during the tenure of Jean-Baptiste-Noël Pouget, between 1777 and his death in 1818. It explains that during this period, a great number of baptisms of adults, *savages* and métis from the North-West territories.
The author’s explanation is the confluence of the many rivers surrounding Berthier, which is situated fairly East of Montreal – which would have been much closer to the Métis coming from the Red River area.
But genealogical records can show that the North-West Métis had kinship living along the rivers leading to Berthier: first cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents.
A stunning example of a well-known family from Manitoba, the HENRY, who came to Berthier to have a daughter baptized. The record clearly indicates that she is Métis:
Although Pouget seemed sympathetic to Métis, the Church discouraged mixed unions, which may explain why the parents were never named. The baptisms were entered in the records as born of a Canadian father and an Indigenous mother. Almost two dozen of such records have been located so far in the Berthierville church records.
So, there it is. The empirical proof of a link.
Because the oral histories weren’t enough.
Because the Métis sash made in L’Assomption wasn’t enough.
Because the kinship memories weren’t enough.
But again, thank you. This experience has given me the opportunity of meeting people that do care, who I can learn from. And who I hope will be around my daughter for years to come.
All Our Relations.
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