Monday, February 14, 2011

The "Metis Problem"

“Ottawa tries to calm Métis identity furor.
Government denies consumer safety standards group chosen to decide who is and is not Métis.”

The above noted headline appeared in the THE GLOBE AND MAIL, dated Friday, February 11, 2011 and written by a Joe Friesen.

A while back in Canada’s history, in fact, in the 1860’s, the government realized they had an “Indian problem.” Throughout time the term, “Indian” has evolved from including all of Canada’s indigenous people to what has now been defined in the Constitution Act, Section 35, "…aboriginal peoples of Canada includes the Indian, Inuit, and Métis peoples of Canada.”

Case closed? Apparently not.

Throughout the world, defining whom you belong to is very contentious: the Middle East is a good example and is still on going. Here, in Canada?

 “We will never let anyone outside our home decide who we are.”  David Chratrand, President of the Manitoba Métis Federation had responded to the federal government as it contracted the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) “to rule on whether Métis membership systems are satisfactory.”

“The issue of identity is particularly controversial with the Métis, who are the descendents of fur-trade marriages of Europeans and natives and who struggled for many years to be recognized by Ottawa.”

This fact gives credence to some who say, the white man was here first and then came the Métis: So, are the Metis really indigenous to Canada like the First Nations and Inuit? Nevertheless, according to the Constitution Act, Ottawa has recognized them as Aboriginal.

“Indian Affairs says it never intended to try to define who is Métis. It simply wants to guarantee a high level of consistency and credibility in the process, a spokeswoman said. That includes making sure decisions are well documented and that an appeal system is in place, she said.”

David Chartrand goes on to say, “…you want to have a war with the Métis nation…”

Seems the federal government now has a “Métis problem.”