Friday, April 15, 2011

Metis People Are Not Aboriginal

Metis people are the result of the mixing of usually French Canadian and First Nations peoples.
Just check out the wikipedia page if you need to know more.


Inter-Tribal Times:
I have wondered about writing an Editorial like this for a while and refrained – but decided this viewpoint needs to be heard. I have a very real and deep contempt for people who are claiming to be Metis, believing they should have any rights that non-aboriginal people do not have.
It’s not about the blood quantum – it is entirely about a made-up culture from a bunch of people who have a very serious identity crisis in wanting to be Aboriginal. As far as I am concerned, and a LOT of Aboriginal people in Canada, they never will be regardless of what the government says.
Most people know the history of where Metis people came from, and that might have been true 100-200 years ago – but the Metis people back then were genuine half-breeds (50% native blood). The Metis people that exist today are plainly white people trying to swindle the government out of money, and take away from government funding for First Nation people.
One of the sources of resentment First Nation people I have spoken to have that various sources of funding from the government for things like dental care, prescription costs, etc are getting progressively smaller because the misguided government is including ‘Metis’ people in that funding.
An example of Metis people screwing things up for First Nation people: there’s a medical centre called Kenora Area Health Access Centre which is based on Washagamis Bay First Nation just outside of Kenora. It was set up to cater specifically for the medical needs of First Nation people. One of the services it provides is sending Nurse Practitioners out to the reserves it services to provide a clinic for people with ailments. This service is sorely needed because many of the people on the reserves cannot just make trips to Washagamis Bay for appointments. However, the Executive Director Anita Cameron decided to open up a drop-in clinic right in the centre of town, and scale back the service to the reserves. I have it on good advice that it all down to her desire of ‘pan-aboriginal care’ in which she is including Metis people in Kenora. So Metis people in Kenora can drop into the KAHAC office by the Shell gas station and get medical care, instead of taking themselves to the hospital like every other non-aboriginal person.
So the less mobile people on the reserves, and people without ways to get to a service centre have to deal with a far less frequent visit from KAHAC.
Incidently… Anita Cameron is also the person who wanted to pay a newly hired Caucasian Nurse Practitioner about 30% more than the Aboriginal Nurse Practitioners, just so her paycheque after tax deductions equaled what the Aboriginal Nurse Practitioners received without tax deductions.
The point is Metis people and the vast majority of non-aboriginal people in Canada have very little or no understanding at all of the issues facing Aboriginal people in this country, and for a group of white people masquerading as Aboriginal is a slight to every First Nation person in Canada.
All over Canada, Metis people overall have a far higher living standard than First Nation people, and yet still want to take from Natives.
According to the ‘Self Sufficiency’ paragraph on this website, Metis people do not seek a ‘handout’ from any level of government. Yet according to this news story, Ontario Metis want cut of province’s gaming revenue. They don’t seek a handout, or they want gaming revenue? Metis people do not need gaming revenue. First Nation people do!
If it were up to me, regardless of what anyone said, I would let Metis people make their Metis cards, and identify as Metis, and have their little groups of white people jigging to non-native music… but I would not give them a single cent of government funding for anything, I would completely remove all rights to any natural resource and remove them from the definition of Aboriginal in Canada.


  1. Initially, the article seems to be lacking any reason for the metis not being aboriginal, and left me in the dark about reasoning for classification. (i know very little about canadian first nation policies/history)

    after reading up on the metis (thank wikipedia - which catagorizes them as aboriginal) its pretty obvious, at least to me, that the argument put forth here is fairly solid. furthermore, i gathered that the metis actually sped up the process of european colonization through things like north-west fur trade and inter-cultural marital unions.

    while i dont believe these things alone allow us to dismiss them as a culture (or, generational culture) i don't think that the canadian gov't should be funding them. but again, i literally know jack-shit about the actual situation.

  2. I've honestly never understood why Metis would be categorized as an aboriginal culture, obviously its a distinction that I don't have any role in making.

    But, what I do take from this argument (I think the same thing Codi's taking) is a distinction of privilege: We can recognize that while Metis & First Nations folks can both claim a fucked up, colonized history, the reality of the matter is that today, Metis communities experience privileges in Anglo-American/Canadian society that First Nations folks don't (not claiming to know that, just based on what this author says). So when we address that privilege materially, we should keep that in mind.

    What this brings to mind for me is conversations I've had with friends who argue that "Yeah, American colonization was fucked up, but England was colonized too, every culture's been enslaved & pillaged. I was born here, so we've got to forget the distinctions & just be equal" Admittedly if you look at the whole scope of human history, it becomes kind of difficult where you draw the line as to which cultures have had it worst, but the reality of who is privileged in society is plain enough to see.

  3. There is a lot to say on this topic, but I'll try not to rant.
    As far as this article goes, I think this argument is a load of crap.
    I know we could sit around all day and argue who is aboriginal and who is not, but it honestly will probably get us no where.
    Metis communities and Metis people undoubtable have faced the hardships of racism and colonialism both historically and today.
    Although they were not put on reservations such as other First nations people they were not simply accepted in white communities either.

    There are folks out there with Metis ancestry (myself included) who are obviously not facing the hardships of being a First Nations person, but we should not forget that Metis communities do exist, and that being a 'half-breed' does not make you accepted in the white communities of those areas any more than being Cree, etc.
    Also, many people who identify as lets just say Anishinaabe, are 1/4 biologically, but no one questions their indigenous identity (as they shouldn't) regardless of how white they look. So, because the Metis identity was a result of colonialism, and the term does not have the history that Anishinaabe does, it makes these folks less indigenous?
    So yes, Metis who appear more "white" have privilege than those who look more "native," but the same can be said about Anishinaabe folks that we all know. We should be thinking of this in terms of a people, (the Metis, The Anishinaabe) not as those who are more easily accepted as white and those who are not.
    And just to be clear i'm talking about Metis who are a part of a Metis community, not folks who had a great great great grandmother who was Cree or whatever.
    And as far as Metis contributing to "the process of european colonization through things like north-west fur trade and inter-cultural marital unions," I would like to say that this seem svery false to me. Metis resisted the fur trade (often with arms) just as much so as other First Nations people for its dependency that it created on The Hudson Bay and Northwest Companies for subsistence once the Buffalo were almost decimated.

    Anyways, I feel the argument in this article is misplaced, and when it comes down to it, its not much use arguing who had it worse and who has it worse now and deserves the most federal aid. The problem is the fucked up economic system that creates these conditions and makes people argue who deserves more. This article seems to be trying to make a split when a little more unity might actually get us somewhere.

  4. @ Caset (or everyone else) i was curious if you've got a good reference for "Metis resistance"? like i said,i know zero on the topic and would be into further reading. all the things im finding are very pro-colonization.

  5. prison of grass by howard adams is really good.

  6. Casey:

    Your points make sense, & I'm not really disagreeing with what you're saying except:

    You say that there's not use arguing who has it worst now, but I think that another way of looking at that is acknowledging privilege. I think that's what the author here is trying to do (in a confusing way, by raising arguments about the definition of a relatively undefinable word). What I understood the author as trying to do is recognize & address a distinction of privilege within their community.

    It might be a misplaced and divisive argument, but if its a conversation we don't have, then colonial/aboriginal identity becomes black or white, & I don't think that makes sense.

    Am I way off base there?

  7. I would agree that some folks who identify as Metis have more or less white privilege. For example, if I wanted to I could get a Metis card and if I was a Canadian Citizen get all the benefits of other Native and Inuit folks. That is obviously kind of whack, and I don't think folks in similar situations who are not in true need of Federal services should be utilizing that opportunity. BUT there are, like I said before, Metis communities resulting from relocation, and these are without a doubt native communities. So his claim that metis are not aboriginal is VERY offensive.
    I would also question the standard of living issue he brings up. In Howard Adams book Prison of Grass, he describes growing up in a Metis ghetto and it sounds similar to stories of growing up on reservations. (and yes he is a true "half-breed").
    I just think the claim that the metis as a people have a great privilege over other Native folks is to an extent kind of ridiculous, and the authors view has not been shared by other native and metis folks I have talked to about it.(Wish i could get them to comment).
    Does this make sense?


  9. I think Casey summarized my opinion of this article when he typed, "the argument in this article is misplaced." Reading this article, my recent experiences at a clinic administered by and for Native people (the Oneida Clinic, outside Green Bay) seem relevant and worth mentioning. At the clinic, Oneida people are able to receive good care in a rural setting. People who are not Oneida and do not look Oneida use the clinic, too. It is intended for Oneida people, but there are white neighbors who use it because it is the closest facility to them or they are married to an Oneida tribal member.

    What I ended up getting from this article is a picture of health inadequacy more than inappropriate claiming of heritage. Healthcare is a pretty basic human need, and when one does not have their basic needs met, it is possible that a person may act in a way that is less than perfectly ethical, such as claiming a heritage that one is not fully entitled to. I know we are a bunch of sensitive radicals here, but basic needs come before issues of self-actualization. See Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

    At the Oneida Clinic, at least half of the medical professionals are white. To me this does not seem right. The issue of the pay inequality between nurse practitioners is real. I do not think that material compensation can make up for lack of access to privilege. I do not think it was fair to pay the white employee more than the Aboriginal employee, because the tax deductions are not a workplace issue but rather a governmental issue. The issue of culturally appropriate care keeps coming to mind when working with minority populations and individuals. It is a complex issue when white & materially privileged folks have the best access to education and higher level jobs.

    Also, living in remote areas of Canada, especially reservations, put people at increased risks for morbidities, particularly diabetes (wrote a paper about this), lack of access to fresh affordable foods and healthcare being the main reasons.

    I think the bottom line is that an economic system that depends on there being poor and disadvantaged people will continue to deprive people of basic needs. Until we fix this, people will still use "survival mode" logic and use what they can to stay alive and/or better their situation.

    PS - My photo is a joke.