The Métis culture is something that I had not known very much about in going into Russell Fayant’s presentation, and the seminar conducted by my classmates. After being involved in these two presentations, I now know that there is so much more that I need to learn in order to help not only myself understand, but my future students as well.
What/Who is Metis?
A Metis person may be broadly defined as a person who has ancestry from First Nations and Europeans, but it’s more than just people who descended from mixed marriages. It is something more complex as a person who is Métis is:
- Recognized by a Métis community
- Self declared as a Métis person
- and has ancestry traced back to a historic community (ex. Red River)
Additionally, I chose to visit the bulletin board on the second floor of College West in order to further my understanding about the Métis flag. This flag is the oldest flag indigenous to Canada. The Métis flag has an infinity symbol that represents “two nations coming together to make something different and new which will last forever.” There is both a blue flag, as well as a red flag. The red flag is known as the hunting flag, and was traditionally flown by Métis who worked for the HBC. The blue flag is associated with the Scottish/French Métis who largely worked for the Northwest Company out of Montreal. It was very first flown in 1816 in the Qu’Appelle Valley. Lastly, it is interesting to know that Regina was the first city in Canada to permanently fly the Métis flag at its City Hall.
What role did Metis people play in Treaties?
This beautiful wampum was created by Christi Belcourt and represents the twinning of different world views. No matter what, people will always be intertwined.
“It’s not who you claim to be.. it’s who claims you. Everyone of you has a community who claims you to be a part of their community” – Russell Fayant
During our seminar we got to take part in an activity. The goal of this activity was to negotiate with my group members in order to come up with a mutual agreement. I was given the role of Métis interpreter. My role was to relay information between the First Nations Group and the European Group. It sounds easy, however, sometimes I don’t quite speak the exact same dialect, so it caused many problems. I was also able to lie and twist information to my own liking. This caused both groups to agree to terms that they didn’t fully understand. I was able to make simple mistakes that completely altered what both groups thought they were signing. I felt like I had so much power and control, and that both groups trusted me so much, even though they didn’t know the power I had. I felt like in the end, the Treaty they signed, had so much to do with what information I chose to share. This small activity put so much into perspective in regards to the role of the Métis interpreters.
There are so many other things that I still need to discover about Métis peoples. I am so happy that I have had this short introduction, but there is still so much more work I need to do.
“It is amazing that Métis culture is still standing. It was held together because of their communities” – Russell Fayant
– Ms. S