The Eastern Métis and “Negationism” in the Academy

The Eastern Métis and the “Negationism” of Professor Leroux: “Aiabitawisidjik wi mikakik”[1]

By Sébastien Malette, PhD

Translated by Rémy Biggs

The original French version of this article was published in Trahir (October 21, 2017): Les Métis de l’Est et le « négationnisme » du professeur Leroux: « Aiabitawisidjik wi mikakik »  PDF of English version here.

“Bois-Brulés! Mixed-blood! But at the center of this blood I have Native words that I can still hear, and desires that move and which long to go beyond your fences.”

–Élodie, in La Dalle-des-Morts by F.A. Savard, 1965


On September 27, 2017, professor of sociology Darryl Leroux of the University of Saint Mary offered a conference at the University of Montréal, entitled “Historic Revisionism and Indigenization: the creation of “Eastern Métis”. The subject of his conference, linked with his other work, questioned the existence of Métis in Eastern Canadian provinces, whom Leroux accused of ethnic fraud and hostile intentions against those Leroux considered “true” Indigenous peoples. In short, Leroux accused the Métis of the Eastern provinces of Canada (Quebec in particular) of fabricating an Indigenous identity in order to wash away their guilt over colonialism, or, in some cases, to simply obstruct the recognition of Indigenous people and their rights.

To do this, Professor Leroux recycled statistics that he and blogger Chelsea Vowel previously published in the journal Topia. Leroux asserted that Quebec has seen a rise in Métis self-identification of 258%. Leroux suggested that this increase is not incidental, explaining that it has to do with some sinister motivations that he had noticed in the Eastern Métis peoples. By isolating and focusing his research on a few problematic examples, Professor Leroux resumed his topic with a shocking declaration: he was going to demonstrate that Québecois Métis peoples simply do not exist.

For the Métis Federation of Canada (MFC), this declaration went too far. In a letter sent to the University of Montréal, the MFC denounced Professor Leroux’s proposed talk as “negationism” and invited the university to retract the institutional platform it had offered to Leroux, following the argument that such a conference promotes hatred and contempt towards an entire population of Métis people based on their geographical location and history. The MFC denounced Leroux for his abusive generalizations, steeped in a logical fallacy that consisted of criticizing an identity based not on the historical evidence put forward demonstrating its emergence (or facts), but rather by attributing its genesis to the malicious intentions of those who claim that identity. Leroux went even further: he asserted that the sovereignty of First Nations would be menaced de facto by the increase of all these so-called “fake” Indigenous peoples/Métis in Quebec. This last statement brought the MFC to denounce Leroux’s conference as provoking a hostile climate in denigrating the Métis living in Quebec.

The defense of Professor Leroux: they are not “real” Métis

Professor Leroux defended himself against these accusations with a simple claim: that Québecois Métis are not, according to him, “real” Métis. Leroux’s academic reputation, therefore, is heavily tied at this point with the negations of the identity and history of the Eastern Métis that he sets in opposition to the “real” Western Métis.

At this point, we should know that this idea that only Prairie Métis would be the “real” Métis, is at the heart of debates opposing Métis organizations for the last 35 years. Historically speaking, such reification of Métis identity along a West-East divide was much less pronounced. We know, for example, that multiple “Métis” families became “Indian” following the Indian act and vice versa, illustrating the fluidity between identities referred to as Aboriginal in Canada. We also know cases of individuals, amongst many, who identify themselves alternately as [French-]Canadians, Métis and Indians during their lives, showing the presence of multiple means of articulating a historic Métis identity. It has only been since the 1980s that competing and opposing visions of Métis identity began to clash in the background of new constitutional battles. More precisely and paradoxically, the inclusion of the term “Métis” in article 35 of the Constitutional Act, 1982 put an end to the unity of Métis and non-status Indians throughout Canada, notably when a group of Western Métis decided to create a new organization in 1983, called the Métis National Council (MNC), which distanced itself from the Native Council of Canada, then directed by the Saskatchewan Métis Harry Daniels.

Conflicting Visions on the Métis Identity

Since the inclusion of the Métis in the repatriated 1982 constitution, at least two visions of Métis identity oppose each other quite ferociously. On one hand, there is the vision expressed by Harry Daniels, who recognized that all Métis, wherever their location in Canada, have the right to self-identify as Métis, if they believe it corresponds to their ways of relating to the world (basically, if it matches their worldview and cultural sensitivities). On the other hand, the Métis National Council supports a much narrower ethno-nationalist doctrine, restraining the Métis identity to the provinces located to the west of Quebec (the so-called “Métis homeland”), and more precisely to descendants of Métis from the Northwest that we associate with the political events of Red River (such as, for example, the principal Métis leader Louis Riel). Adopting an evolutionary and primordial paradigm in regards to the Métis identity, the intelligentsia who adopted this neo-nationalist vision of Métis identity gradually developed a political theory according to which only political events of a certain magnitude are capable of creating a “proven” collective national consciousness, sufficiently “mature”, to have the right to legitimately identify themselves as Métis.

Due to this ideological schism imposed on métisness, the “other Métis” have been described by partisans of this ideology as simply “mixed-blood” or mixed, but not Métis, following the notion that their ancestors weren’t conscious enough of their Métis identity to be able to transfer it to their descendants, leading today to accusations of self-indigenization against these “other” Métis. This type of accusation is especially strong in Métis narratives targeting the Eastern provinces of Canada (and particularly in Quebec), who are still being denied any kind of recognition by the Métis National Council, the latter currently lobbying governments and tribunals to accept their Métis doctrine of identity as being the only valid one.

Leroux’s conference thus found itself at the heart of several tumultuous identity-based debates that have been raging since at least the constitutional era of 1982-83. Therefore, Leroux’s first mistake is perhaps to believe that the phenomenon of Métis in Québec is a new phenomenon. Leroux ignores the historical affirmations of Québécois Métis communities and organizations, which, according to the community newspaper L’Alliance, sent political delegates to negotiate their inclusion in the Canadian constitution in 1981. He also ignores the testimonies that were recorded of Eastern Métis during the Royal Commission on Aboriginal peoples (1996). According to Leroux, all of these testimonies are faulty: these testimonies, according to him, are from non-status Indians (or “whites”) using the term “Métis” in confused ways, or to denote a biological rather than cultural state of affairs.

In negating the very possibility of the existence of Métis in Quebec, Leroux notably adopts the positions defended by neo-nationalist and Métis sociologist Chris Andersen of the University of Alberta (among others), who does not hesitate to describe self-identifying Métis that are found outside of the traditional Western Métis homeland as a hodge-podge of (perhaps) Indigenous peoples deprived of their rights by the Canadian state, which he openly describes the eastern Métis as seeking their rights before governments and courts, much like the downtrodden in a “soup kitchen”, when not using the derogatory term “zombies”, to describe what would be fake Indigenous people climbing out of their graves to assume Indigenous identities.

The Accusation’s Foundation: Exaggerated and Indemonstrable Statistics

For Professor Leroux, the similar “novelty” which betrays the instrumentalization of Métis identity in Quebec is illustrated by what he believes to be an increase in self-identification of 258% between 2001, 2006, and 2011 [17]. According to Leroux, there is a psychological explanation for such an increase: the appropriation of Indigenous identity by French-Canadian settlers can be explained by their wrongful intentions. But is the number really 258%? When confronted by the Métis Federation of Canada on the nature of his calculations, and further questioned by a journalist from Radio Canada, Leroux responded initially by stating that all of the numbers and data used in his conference were published in peer-reviewed journals (including the review Topia where the aforementioned figure of 258% was published) [18]. However, after verification, the published statistical data did not correspond to anything tangible.

Probably realizing the futility of using such an argument of authority, Leroux then attempted to correct these numbers in descending order. Radio-Canada later reported an increase of 200% [19], before it became an increase of 158% on the Twitter account of Professor Leroux [20]. Note that this last number of 158% can be validated only if we truncate the results of the censuses in 2001 and 2006 by excluding the group of people who mentioned Métis ancestry without identifying themselves as such (a distinction which does not appear in the results from 2011)[21]. If we do not minimize the numbers as Leroux did, and if we compare the number of people who identified as having Métis ancestry and identity in 2001 (35,325) and the total of people who identified as Métis in 2011 (35,465), then we see a even much less drastic statistic modulation in Quebec [22].

Beyond this statistical error, Leroux’s methodology is quite: professor Leroux is comparing none of the numbers found in Québec to the parallel growths we see in Ontario or in the Canadian West from the same data offered by Canada Statistics (between 1996 and 2006, for example), which the inclusion thereof would have significantly reduced the force of his arguments solely targeting Québec’s Métis. Indeed, per these numbers, we can then see an increase of 80% for Quebec, and an increase of 242% in Ontario. Should we then conclude that the Métis in Ontario, and elsewhere where we see comparable growth, suffer from the same identity crisis as the Métis in Quebec? During his conference, it should be noted that Leroux proposed another estimate of 46% for this increase between 2006 and 2011 [23]. It is therefore very difficult to navigate according to the inconsistent numbers that Leroux has presented. Called to react to the denunciations of Leroux’s work, the University of Montréal responded laconically that his work is supported and recognized by multiple Métis communities, while interestingly flagging the support of the only organization which openly opposes the recognition of Métis communities in Québec: the Metis National Council [24].

Genetic Fallacy #1: The Cruel Intentions of Québécois Métis

Aside from the publication of unverifiable statistics, we believe that a more serious mistake from Professor Leroux consists in his attempt to explain these numbers via some kind of psychologism, the false application of psychology to the study of social phenomena, on the analysis of Métis Québécois, portrayed as reinventing themselves as Indigenous peoples with presumed malicious intent on the basis of statistics alone. Leroux resumes this phenomenon as a “political instrumentalization” from hostile and fake Métis Québécois, guilty of cultural appropriation even when they are not fully aware of it, thus slamming them with this double-ignorance on what would constitute their real identity: that of mere settlers, colonizers and French-Canadians [25].

To do so, Leroux impugns a series of secret intentions, which he reads into the psyche of all Métis of Québec, leading him to formulate to what we call a genetic sophism. The effect of such sophism becomes visible in Ph.D. student Karina Chagnon’s commentaries about Leroux’s conference, where she dismisses both the historical and modern culture of Québec Métis communities as being merely “a myth we all love” [26]. Leroux then hones his fear-inducing arguments by emphasizing that if these “millions of French-Canadians” reinvent themselves as Indigenous (note here the extrapolation, which clearly gives way to hyperbole), that the situation will rapidly get out of control [27], posing an additional risk to Indigenous sovereignty of other indigenous peoples [28]. Leroux even adds an anecdote from his personal life, stating that he himself has Indigenous ancestors, but that does not make him “Métis”. Overtly confident in the authority of his personal narrative and the logic of his self-identification, the professor dismisses as well the possibility of divergent cultural paths emanating from the same familial lines since the 1700s.

Abusive Generalizations and Misinformation on Indigenous Sovereignty

Amidst all of this confusion, we believe we must respond to Leroux’s statements, which, in spite of their immediate weaknesses, threaten to sabotage the real efforts of reconciliation between Métis in Québec, First Nations and Inuit peoples.

It is first useful to understand that crafting an explanation about the origin of ethnic identity via the act of impugning motives to all of its bearers, constitutes a double fallacy (i.e. abusive generalization and genetic sophism). More precisely, while certain Québécois Métis may express ideas we might disagree with, this doesn’t allow us to move on directly to the conclusion that all Métis with roots in Québec have evil and secretive or even ignorant motivations, further positing that the genesis of all Métis people in Québec is rooted in such false claims and even malice. Each case must be analyzed separately without prejudice. The generalizations found in Leroux’s rhetoric seem abusive.

It is also important to understand that no generic attribution that would hypothetically recognize the “Indigenous” character of a large number of Québécois (or French Canadians) would harm the sovereignty of other Indigenous peoples, which will always be specific and causa sui. One’s indigenous sovereignty is always in relation to one’s specific identity; it is not subject to be “diluted” by the instrumentalization of some generalizing labels such as “Indigenous”, “Indians” or even “Métis”, especially when these are not accompanied by further precisions (the Métis of Sault-Sainte-Marie, of the settlement of Red River, of the Slave Lake, etc.). In other words, the coexistence of two Indigenous peoples on the same territory does not necessarily nullify the sovereignty of one or the other. Hence, Leroux’s premise of this sudden “unregulated” growth of Métis in Québec does not lead us to accept his conclusion about the endangerment of Indigenous sovereignty; there is simply no logical necessity causally tying the two propositions together.

That having been said, the federal government has a duty to consult, and, per some specifics found in the Haida decision, accommodate the Aboriginal peoples [29]. We must also take note that governmental and judiciary authorities must respond to the obligation, when a case is presented, of considering the [sometimes conflicting] interests of various Indian, Inuit or Métis parties. This duty further intersects with another principle embodied in the Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British-Columbia decision, which elaborates that the recognition of Aboriginal rights must be reconciled with Canadian sovereignty, which may result in potential limitations on Indigenous rights [30]. In other words, “becoming Indigenous” is no guarantee that someone will be granted some kind of absolute Aboriginal rights suddenly trumping other Indigenous peoples and Canadians or Québécois.

Professor Leroux’s alarmist rhetoric stating that the increasing self-indigenization of Métis in Québec is a danger to real indigenous nations, is therefore unjustified—even from a hypothetical scenario. Quite simply, the threat of Métis in Québec against First Nation and Inuit sovereignty is exaggerated, and does not take into account the complexity of the already existing jurisprudence on this subject. Clearly, there are already judiciary principles and mechanisms in place for negotiations of disputes between Indigenous peoples, which do not necessarily ensure the victory of the larger population. And even in the scenario of a completely independent Indigenous judicial system, which would imply the coordination between multiple Indigenous sovereignties, negotiating with Métis people or a Québec nation (which does not recognizes itself as “Indigenous”) would not erode the preexisting sovereignties of other Indigenous peoples; just as the sovereignty of Huron-Wendat does not erode that of the Innu, even in cases where the two Indigenous nations may have conflict over the same territory. From the standpoint of Indigenous sovereignty, the presence of one nation or group identity (indigenous or not) does not affect or weaken the intrinsic status of another national or cultural identity. Finally, one must see that these types of conflicts could potentially implicate the Eastern Métis as much as than the Western Métis (for example the case of Hiserkorn, where the Siksika Nation opposed the Red River Métis nation [31]). To skirt around such a possibility to demonize only Eastern Métis seems, again, one-sided and exaggerated.

Genetic Fallacy #2: the 1% blood quantum of the Québécois Métis

Beyond Leroux’s statistical errors, exaggerations, impugning of motives, and his use of genetic sophism, we can be troubled by Leroux’s usage of familiar arguments historically known for denigrating Métis identity. To state one case, Leroux does not refrain from formulating “insufficient blood quantum” argument to discredit the validity of Métis identity in Québec. Formulating yet another genetic fallacy, Leroux maintains that the majority of Québécois would have so little “Indian blood” (it is suggested roughly 1%), and from so far back, that the existence of “real” Métis people in Québec is virtually impossible. This type of accusation against the French-Canadian Métis is not without precedent, and certainly echoes the words of Benjamin Sulte, who, desperate to protect the racial status of French-Canadians, wrote that all we could ever say is that “a few drops of the Missouri have fallen into the St. Lawrence river [32].” Using a logic akin to the infamous blood quantum argument, Leroux’s presentation on Eastern Métis supports a similar idea, only in the reverse: it revolves around promoting the idea that all Québécois (pure laines?) can be nothing more than settlers, and can never under any circumstances reclaim a Métis identity, past or present.

It is important to note that many Métis in Québec are very much aware of a historical break, following which a sizable portion of the Québécois population came to identify themselves solely with their French roots. But that does not impede, as Louis “Smokey” Bruyere underlines, that a significant number of people in Québec were, and are still, identifying, as Métis [33].

How can we then interpret the outcry of Métis in Québec, described by Nelson Amos, when protesting in 1981 the trumping of their rights to trap and hunt by foresting companies [34], or this Métis hockey club expelled in 1985 from an Indigenous hockey league for being Métis [35]? Must we conclude that all of these people are nothing but fake Métis, suffering from some kind of colonial guilt or pure amnesia? Must we conclude that Métis in Québec have no history or culture of their own?

Louis Riel’s Response to the 1% Rhetoric

On the accusation of not being Indigenous “enough”, or not having enough “Indian blood”, it is worth remembering that even Louis Riel was forced to dignify such arguments with a response on what constitutes Métis identity in 1885:

There are lovely people from elsewhere who will say to a Métis that “you don’t have an air of a half-breed at all. Surely, you don’t have much Indian blood. In fact, you could pass easily for a pure white person.”

The Métis, who is often bothered by these types of remarks, would very much like to embrace his origins, and not one over the other. The fear of disturbing or neutralizing the sweetness of his interlocutor’s words and manner restrains him. While he hesitates to choose between various answers that come to his mind, words like these complete the assault of his silence: Ah! Well, you have next to no Indian blood. You really have to search for it. Here is how Métis think of themselves: It is true that our Indigenous origins are humble, but it is only right that we honor our mothers in the same manner that we honor our fathers. Why must we occupy ourselves with what degree of which we are mixed between Indigenous and European blood?” [36], (emphasis mine)

We see that the low quotient of “Indian blood” had never perturbed the legitimacy of any Métis in the eyes of Louis Riel, and neither has it for modern Métis leaders such as Harry Daniels, his son Gabriel Daniels, Gabriel Dufault, Martin Dunn or even Louis “Smokey” Bruyere. It should be noted here that all of these leaders are from the West; yet they have all rejected the imposition of geographic limits on Métis identity. As such, they contradict not only the doctrine that only Prairie Métis would be the only “true” Métis, but also its sociologically-derived spiel disseminated by Chelsea Vowel on Twitter, or by professor Adam Gaudry through conferences now reaching Acadia to deny the existence of “true” Acadian Métis. Clearly, the proposition that all Western Métis would oppose the recognition of Métis in Québec or the Métis Federation of Canada, as hinted by Karina Chagnon, seems to be one more inaccuracy; an inaccuracy that gives the impression that Métis in Québec are nothing but an isolated and marginal incident.

In effect, if the goal of Darryl Leroux or Karina Chagnon is to make us look like we would suggest that all French Canadians or Québécois are Indigenous (something we are not positing, let’s be clear), to then amalgamate our work with some cheap reductionist approach to quantifying Métis genetics, we must tell them that they have a case of mistaken identity in their accusations. Their target should rather be a prominent nationalist Métis named Paul L.A.H. Chartrand, who did suggest openly that French-Canadians are an Indigenous people, but are simply not recognized as such in the Canadian constitution of 1982 [39]. Therefore, we invite them to reframe their debate with Paul Chartrand, and not go for facile straw-man arguments. For us, the “French-Canadian Métis” identity is distinct from the “French-Canadian” now Québécois identity tout-court. The former value its dual French and Indigenous heritage of the former, which Métis define through kinship ties and shared cultural patterns.

The Value of being “Mixed” as a Cultural Vector amongst “French-Canadian Métis”

Contrary to what Leroux states on the subject of Métis identity [40], the recognition of a French-Indigenous “mixed” heritage was important and often recognized explicitly in Métis culture, even if the French-Canadian Métis identity cannot be reduced to that cultural marker alone. This is a point which seems to be lost when we see Leroux reducing everything about this debate to ancestry and blood quantum. Louis Riel, among others, did consider the Métis culture to be the result of “mixing”, or more accurately the original synthesis of two preexisting cultures, in his case Indigenous and French cultures, a synthesis that emerged in the historical context of the fur trade:

Métis have paternal ancestors who were employees of the Hudson’s Bay and North West Companies. For maternal ancestors, Métis have Native women from various nations. The French word, Métis, is derived from the Latin word “Mixtus”, which means mixed; the word’s meaning suits us very well. It is only appropriate that the English variation, Half-breed, was derived from the first generation of mixed-bloods; now, blood of European and Native is mixed in us to varying degrees and the term is more general [41] (Emphasis is ours).

The writings of Riel are crystal clear when it comes to the existence of “French-Canadian Métis” culture, as are these words of another Métis leader Gabriel Dumont on the subject:

1885 was not the first time that French-Métis were rattled, and so long as we have a drop of French and Indian blood in our veins, we will continue to advocate for the rights that we have fought for, and the ones that they assassinated Louis David Riel for [42]. (Emphasis is ours).

From these quotes, it seems that even the historic leaders of the Métis Nation understood their culture as one derived from a unique “mixed” heritage, a culture they surely see as specific to North America. But most importantly, it should be noted that this “mixed” identity emerged and was spread across North America via evolving kinship ties and solidarity. It is interesting to see, for example, that a 1979 letter form the Board of Directors of L’Alliance, asking for the pardon of Louis Riel, also mentions that “the Métis in Québec in 1885” were already vocal in opposing the hanging of Riel [43]. Valuing the “mixed” aspect of Métis culture should not therefore be turned to ridicule as misinformed romantic or racist biases, but rather as this distinct and historical cultural expression of a Métis diaspora that operates like a rhizomatic entity. As such, Métis culture thrives without a unique center or ultimate birth place, it is exocentric, full of fleeting points resisting what would be the reduction of its essence or final expression to one given locale: making the experience of métissage as a cultural vector for an emerging Métis identity [44].

We should therefore consider the following hypothesis: if these Québécois Métis resort to DNA tests or complex genealogical mapping to confirm their Métis identities, it may well be in reaction to the ridicule they face in their their efforts to exist objectively, politically and culturally, as Métis—attempts that Karina Chagnon derides by diminishing the fruit of such struggles as the product of mere “myths” and misinformed attachments. In fact, the contingency and openness associated with the term “Métis” can no longer be doubted when reading this passage from a letter written by Louis Riel to his cousin Paul Proulx in 1877:

It’s a name that means mixed [Métis]. Until now it has served to designate the race question of mixed-bloods between Europeans and Natives, but it is equally viable in its usage to designate a race of man, recruited from all types of mixtures of blood between them, and who, passing through the French-Canadian mold, retain their memory of their heritage and call themselves Métis. The label “Métis” is one most find agreeable, because it is not exclusive and it has the advantage of recognizing, in the most convenient way possible, the contingent that derives from each nation to create this new group of people [45] (Emphasis ours). 

The Negation of a Political Consciousness Amongst Eastern Métis

Refusing to recognize how the term “Métis” is not exclusive to the western Métis, some will reply that the “mixed bloods” of eastern Canada never demonstrated the same unity of a political purpose as was evident in the classic Red River historiography. To make their point, a series of prejudices will be rhetorically deployed, each one more inflated than the previous, putting forward assumptions creating a homogenous collective which overlooks nuance and the very diversity which existed in the 19th century Red River. To achieve this, they will ignore the fact that the Métis spoke different languages, while positing that there was only a single Métis national language, the mixed bilingual French-Cree Michif. They will close their eyes on the French-speaking character of the vast majority of these “Bois-Brulés” including the majority of the Métis in the Red River, and the historical struggles that defined their common experience against the English (les Anglais) and the Orangemen, who considered them too Catholic and way to close to the “Indians” to be trusted. They will forget, above all, the existence of Métis in Québec.

In short, they will allow themselves to gradually destroy the cultural undergirding of French-Canadian Métis by diffusing widely this Red River-centric doctrine lobbied since 1983 by a predominantly Anglophone Western organization, which still to this day refuses to give to the directors of the oldest French Métis organization in the country, L’union nationale métisse St. Joseph du Manitoba, a seat at the negotiation table with the government. [46] So imagine our surprise when facing the claim that the whole of Western Métis would not recognize the Métis Federation of Canada, even though the president of the Federation is himself a Western Métis whose ancestors fought at Batoche with Louis Riel. Imagine our surprise when we recall that Gabriel Dufault, of L’Union nationale métisse St. Joseph du Manitoba, has made it his personal mandate to reconcile the families of the East and the West. [47] At this point, we should perhaps inform Darryl Leroux and Karina Chagnon of what Louis Riel himself wrote himself on the subject in 1885:

As for the Eastern Canadian provinces, there are many Métis who live there despised while under the Indian label. Their villages are Indigenous villages. Their Indian title is just as valid as the Indian title of Métis in Manitoba. [48] (Emphasis ours)

Once again, and despite the current doctrine of the Metis National Council, it seems clear that the political project that Louis Riel clearly included the Métis from the eastern provinces of Canada, who possessed, according to him, equal rights as those in Manitoba.

Extract of a letter from Louis Riel. Creator of image unknown. Original document. Archives and Libraries of Canada. “Regina Prison, 1884. “To the Captain and Mr. E.B. Dean”. Folio 1280 (7) Records relating to Louis Riel and the North West Uprising – 1229, microfilm 1229, C-1229, 122991, 202861, RG 13

A Nascent Historiography for the Eastern Métis [49]

The testimony of Louis Riel in this regard seems rather credible, given that he spent roughly fifteen years in exile, including some time in Québec where he sought protection among kin and Métis families. Interestingly, a vivid and vibrant oral tradition among Métis elders from the Outaouais region (Québec’s Ottawa Region) suggests that Louis was protected by Métis families residing there, Métis families that included surnames such as Riel, McGregor, Nault, Lépine, Beaulieu, Paul, David, McDougall and many others. On this particular subject, a visit to the national archives allow us to see how Métis in this region were collectively and distinctively identified as Métifs, Métis, Half breeds and Bois-Brulés, this, well over a period of 80 years, includes this note from Father Bellefeuille in 1838:

[Flora] is about 45 years old, and besides her name of Baptism and her Indian name, she also bears the name of L’Évêque [Lévesque] from her late father, a former Canadian or métif voyageur. There is also in this same post [Abitibi] Savages or métifs, like Gaucher and others of the name Chénier. As in Témiskaming there is a numerous family who are descendants of an old voyageur named Leduc. And in all these different Posts there are métifs descendants of Voyageurs or Clerks or Bourgeois, Canadians or Scottish for the most part. These métifs are usually more clever than the others. [50] (Emphasis ours).

The reply we usually hear at this point is this: the history of Eastern Métis is based solely on anecdotes. And that the documentary sources we provide prove nothing about how these Métis people were self-identifying. But then, how to make sense of the correspondence of father Nédélec, seeking to bring the Métis the Outaouais region (“from below”) into the Temiscamingue reserve in 1896, this by asking that two seats be reserved for the Métis on the council? How can we interpret the government’s response to Nédélec, which then refused to let a Métis community be created? [51] What do we say of the letters written by agents Martin and Bensen from the Maniwaki reserve, openly complaining of the Métis agitating at the outskirts thereof, identified both in 1895 and 1909 as distinct from the French Canadians and the Indians on the reserve? And do we make sense of the hunting permits sold in 1942, with prices depending on if the buyer was Métis or Indian? [54] Are these element not sufficient to show the experience of a distinct Métis consciousness in Québec, highlighted by diverse practices that target specifically this “class of people”, to employ the expression used by the surveyor Bouchette when he referred to the “Bois-Brûlés” squatting south of what is now the Gatineau Park? [55] Should we simply stop researching these micro-histories because some suggest all Metis in Québec amount to cases of ethnic fraud?

As archival sources show, Métis people did roam and even occupy the territory of Québec. This helps to explain the context behind a passage quoted by Karina Chagnon from one of our previous publications, in which we criticized the Paquette decision for neglecting the mobility of Metis between Quebec and Ontario:

Why can’t a Québécois consider themselves both Métis and Québécois, especially when they are steeped in a society where métissage was common and resulted in a distinct way of life? How did we come to accept that the Métis Nation of Ontario takes away certain rights from members with ancestral roots in Québec as a result of the Paquette ruling? According to this decision, a Métis person may claim Aboriginal rights only if there are strict element of continuity and territorial relationship between a “Métis community” that existed prior to “effective control” of the colony, and the individual whose ancestors then needed to live in that community. However, could not all of Québec be consider a territory historically travelled and inhabited by Métis, as well as several other places in North America? Is it not the time to liberate Métis identity from such territorial enclosure? [56] (Emphasis ours)

Freeman Francois Naud and the Métis woman Elizabeth McPherson. Creator and date unknown. Taken from Guillaume Marcotte’s book, “Francophones and the fur trade in Grand Temiscamingue, a biographical dictionary, 1760-1870, Québec, GID Editions, 2017, pg. 302.

It should be clear by now: attempts to arrogate the term “Métis” only for Red River descendants make no sense from a historical standpoint. It doesn’t even make sense from a cultural or judicial standpoint, either. Métis have inhabited, travelled, and even maintained settlements in the territory of Québec according to the writings of Louis Riel, those of Father Bellefeuille, Nédélec, the accounts of Bensen and Martin, and the surveyor Bouchette. It is therefore the whole premise supporting Leroux’s argument that Métis in Québec have no history that falls. The evidences further suggest that the experience of Métis political consciousness doesn’t have be the expression of some grandiose nationalistic narrative. Otherwise, how could we suggest that the Paspebiac uprising by the “Acadian Métis” in 1886, where Métis-Acadians are described collectively and distinctly from the Mi’kmaq, French Canadians and English, was not a political act? [57] How can we interpret the repression endured by the Acadian Métis, compared in the New York Times to the Red River Métis in 1886, if not as a political answer from the colonial authorities? [58] Is it necessary to have a national anthem, a flag, a martyr or a Powley certification to be viewed as a sufficiently mature?

Conclusion: An Ethical and Professional Reframing of a Public Debate

We need to find the courage to say it clearly: the promotion of fear-mongering arguments based on exaggerations, generalizations, impugning malicious motives, and genetic sophism is unacceptable. Fanning a discrediting campaign against Eastern Métis by using such fallacies is unworthy of a university conference, where the privilege of freedom of speech and protection against censorship must be balanced by the responsibility to promote integrity and objectivity as much as possible.

After our careful analysis of Leroux’s arguments, we do share the concerns expressed by the Métis Federation of Canada in regards to the arguments insisting that there are no Eastern Métis. In an imprudent and hasty manner, Professor Leroux appears to have engaged in the negation of even the possibility of a specific and unique history of the Métis in Québec. From an ethical standpoint, it is also regrettable that such negation targets peoples already in position of vulnerability due to conflicts between Métis factions (since 1983 really), the lack of recognition by the government of Québec, now being accused by Leroux of being essentially ignorant, fraudulent and without a real history or identity as Métis. We are equally stunned to hear Leroux attacking the reputations of colleagues and students in his conference, including professors Denis Gagnon [59], Etienne Rivard [60], and student Guillaume Marcotte [61], by insinuating that he does not understand how the works of these scholars on such subject could be published in peer-reviewed journals. Yet, all these authors have published in respected journals, and made significant contributions to the field of Métis studies. It is thus necessary to call into question what appears to be not only an ad hominem attack against the reputation of these academics by Leroux, but, in the absence of any arguments of substance on their work, a disconcerting lack of rigor on the part of Professor Leroux [62].

Before entering the debates on Métis identity, we thus suggest that those who intend to do so should take some precautions, including taking stock of the vast diversity and complexity of the Métis cultures. Working on this subject requires time and patience. It requires sensibility coupled with serious research, supported by documentation and rigorous sourcing, as well as a researcher experienced in the intricacies of Métis politics and theories of ethnogenesis, which could be limiting for a culture which is so uniquely rhizomatic. Researchers must also take into account the vulnerability of an Indigenous population that has been subjected to many attempts at erasure. We must finally be cautious as we analyze the discourses of contemporary Métis, who can be read as symptomatic of these objectifying pressures of the legal and sociological type, which, especially in matters of Indigeneity, tend to obsessively ask us for our identity papers according to this “civil status morality”. We hope that Professor Leroux, as well as the doctoral student Karina Chagnon who reported his conference adding denigrating comments of her own, will take heed.


[1] In the title, “Aiabitawisdjik wi mikakik” is an Algonquin expression which means “the Métis will fight” or “the Métis are ready to fight””, which we use here to mean “the Métis are ready to fight for their right to exist”. This expression suggests that the Algonquins themselves had a term for describing sustained and collective Métis presence in the East. This expression can be found in Jean Andre Cuoq’s “Lexicon of the Algonquin Language”, Montréal, J. Chapleau, 1886, p. 8

[2] Article by Karina Chagnon on the Trahir review website, published on October 9, 2017, titled “Revisionism or denial? The myth of Québécois Métis.” Henceforth cited as [Chagnon 2017].

[3]Chelsea Vowel and Darryl Leroux, “White Settler Antipathy and the Daniels Decision, Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 36 (fall 2016), pp. 30-42

[4] Ibid.

[5] Darryl Leroux, Historic revisionism and self-indigenization: the creation of “Eastern Métis”.

[6] The letter is now available on the Métis Federation of Canada’s Twitter Account:

[7] Read more on the subject of Joe Sawchuk’s works: “Negotiating an identity: Métis political organizations, the Canadian government, and competing concepts of Indigeneity”, The American Indian Quarterly 25, no 1 (2001), pp. 73-92.

[8] We think of the Powley family in particular here, especially in the affair of R v. Powley [2003] 2 R.C.S. 207, 2003 CSC 43, which lead us to the first Métis judicial victory in regards to section 35. The history of this family, cited during the proceedings, demonstrated the non-linearity of Métis identity transmission, and the numerous identities cited by this family including Indian, French-Canadian, and white. In spite of the efforts of the Crown to discredit the Powleys, by illustrating amongst others the presence of a single Indigenous ancestor within six generations, the Powleys were victorious in front of the Supreme Court of Canada. We note equally here that the Powley family, descended from a French-Canadian voyageur and an “Indian” woman from Wisconsin, is therefore a family whose roots are linked to Detroit and has no link with the Métis of Red River. See Canada, Factum of the Appellant, Her Majesty the Queen, in R. v. Powley [2003], 2003, and the following transcripts are available by demand from the Supreme Court of Canada: R. v. Powley, [2003] 2 S.C.R. 207, 2003 SCC 43. Testimony of H. Armstrong, transcripts in vol. 4, pp. 56-57, 64-65, 67-71, 73-74, 82-86, 119,125, 132-133, 155, 157,160-161, 169-171 (AARvol. I, tab 33).

[9] See for example the works of Gerald Ens in regards to this, including “Metis Ethnicity, Personal Identity and the Development of Capitalism in the Western Interior. The Case of Johnny Grant”, in From Rupert’s Land to Canada, edited by Theodore Binnema, Gerhard Ens and R. C. MacLeod, Edmonton, University of Alberta Press, 2001, pp. 160-177

[10] See the writings of Harry Daniels here, particularly Declaration of Métis and Indian rights, Ottawa, Native Council of Canada, 1979. Also note the important testimony of Métis woman Joyce Green in “Don’t Tell Us Who We Are (Not): Reflections on Métis Identity”, Aboriginal Policy Studies1, no 2, 2011, pp. 166-170.

[11] See the article the President of the Native Council of Canada wrote, titled “Working for the interest of our people is our only reason for being here ”, The Alliance Journal, December 1983, p. 7

[12] Here we reference the letter Harry Daniels sent to Kirby Lethbridge (February 17, 1994), reproduced in the Annexes [5F] in regards to the Royal Commision on Aboriginal Peoples. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Vol. 5: Renewal: A Twenty-Year Commitment, dans For Seven Generations: An Information Legacy of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples [Electronic], Ottawa, Libraxus, 1997. Daniels declared here:

In response to your question “What did the term ‘Metis’ mean when inserted into the Constitution of Canada?” […] Firstly, let me state that at the time I was President of the Native Council of Canada which was a Federation of Metis and Non-Status Indian Organizations representing Metis and Non-Status Indians from the Yukon to Newfoundland. […] On the 30th of January, 1981 when the agreement was reached that Indians, Inuit and Metis be specifically identified as Aboriginal People, in what is now Section 35(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982, it was at my insistence that the above-mentioned were included.

With specific reference to the term “Metis” it was understood at the time that it (Metis) included the member organizations and their constituents who self-identified as a Metis person. The notion being that self-identity is a right that cannot be usurped by any means. It was also understood that the term Metis was not tied to any particular geographic area, keeping in mind that Aboriginal people from coast to coast identified with the term Metis as their way of relating to the world. (Emphasis ours).

[13] Going by this reasoning, exemplified by critics of the Métis National Council, it is enough that a person can find at least one ancestor to have taken “Half-breed” scrip, for example, or having been a part of the Northwest Resistence [1816-1885] to be considered a “true” Métis, being a part of that which the Métis National Council defines as the “Métis nation”.

[14] See more on the works of Chris Andersen, particularly Métis: Race, Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood, Vancouver, UBC Press, 2014.

[15] Leroux 2017, at 00:10:02

[16] Look at the following excerpt of Chris Andersen, which we find in Métis: Race, Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood, Vancouver, UBC Press, 2014, p. 24:

Despite the racialization that has shaped Métis politics, however, the category “Métis” is not a soup kitchen for Indigenous individuals and communities disenfranchised in various ways by the Canadian state (see Andersen 2011): however volatile our Métis citizenship codes have necessarily become in the racialized cauldron of Canada’s colonialism, they deserve to be respected. (Emphasis ours).

[17] See Chris Andersen, Who is Indigenous? Indigenous ancestry, white possessiveness and the tyranny of self-identification, opening conference announced at Western University on November 7, 2016, London (Canada), 2016. Youtube link last used May 24, 2017:

[18] See Chelsea Vowel and Darryl Leroux, “White Settler Antipathy and the Daniels Decision”, Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies , no 36, Fall 2016, p. 35.

[19] “The Métis of Quebec accuse a speaker invited to the University of Montreal of denial of history”. Radio-Canada, Indigenous Space, September 26, 2017. Link last used October 13, 2017:

[20] “A professor puts the increase of Métis in Québec into question”, Radio-Canada, Indigenous Space, September 27, 2017. Link last opened October 13, 2017:

[21] See here the confirmation of an increase of 158%, which has since strangely disappeared from Leroux’s Twitter account but can still be found on the Twitter of the Métis Federation of Canada, dated October 13, 2017:

[22]: See chart 1.7 (p. 12), a Canadian statistical spreadsheet generated by the Institute of Statistics of Québec, where we can see the numbers divided into the categories “growth” and “identity”, for the years 2001 and 2006 respectively. We presume that these are where Leroux got his numbers from. The sources of the last figures remain obscure. Link last opened October 13, 2017:

[23] Look at table 13, “Size and Growth of the Métis Population, Canadian provinces and territories, 1996 and 2006”, issue of a report titled Canadian Statistics, Censuses of the Population, 1996 and 2006. According to this report, Québec did not at all have the highest increase, and in fact only had an increase of 80% compared to the 242% of Ontario and the 132% increase in British Columbia. Link last opened October 13, 2017: 2017 :

[24] Leroux 2017, at 11:30

[25] See “The Métis of Quebec accuse a speaker invited to the University of Montreal of denial of history”. Radio-Canada, Indigenous Space, September 26, 2017. Link last used October 13, 2017:

[26] Leroux 2017, at 54:00:00.

[27] See Chagnon 2017

[28] Leroux 2017, at 1:15:00

[29] Leroux asserts in the summary of his conference: “We demonstrate hence how these statements in Québec create a threat towards the rights and sovereignty of real Indigenous peoples” [Leroux 2017]

[30] Haida Nation v. British Columbia (Ministry of Forests) (2004) 3. R.C.S. 511. 2004 CSC 73. We reference the excellent points made by Sebastien Grammond on the subject of judicial principle in relation to the Haida decision. Sebastien Grammond, Terms of Coexistence: Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Law, Toronto, Carswell, 2013, p. 314 et sqq.

[31] Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2014 CSC 44, [2014] 2 R.C.S. 256, paragraph 125.

[32] See R v. Hirsekorn, 2012 ABCA 21. See also R v. Hirsekorn, 2010 ABPC 385, paragraph 97, for the mention of conflict between the Red River Métis and the Blackfeet Confederation.

[33] Benjamin Sulte, “The Canadian slave” Canadian Review, new series, Vol. VII, Montréal, Montreal Review Publication Company, 1911, p. 324.

[34] L’Alliance, “Presentation of the Native Council of Canada to the Special Parliamentary Commission on Aboriginal Affairs”, The Alliance Journal, 1- (6). December 1983, p. 6.

[35] See Nelson Amos, “We must take control of ourselves to go against the current of dispossession”, The Alliance Journal 8 (1), June 1981, p. 14. In this article from The Alliance, it’s interesting to note how Amos emphasizes that the Métis demand the right to be consulted on the usage of their territory. Notably, the formulation is collective and certainly distinctive here. Mr. Amos explains that even if the “Métis” from the Pontiac-Labelle region (therefore, the Outaouais region) controlled the trapping zones until 1945, the disturbances thereof were being increasingly related to the forestry and lumber industries.

[36] The Alliance, “Discrimination between Indigenous peoples: a Métis hockey club forced to pull itself out of the competition” The Alliance Journal, 12 (2) April 1st 1985, p. 17

[37] Louis Riel, “3-156 The Northwestern Métis [Régina]. 85/10-11” in The Collected Writings of Louis Riel / Les écrits complets de Louis Riel, edited by George Stanley, Raymond Huel, Gilles Martel, Glen Campbell, Thomas Flanagan and C. Rocan, vol. 3, Edmonton, The University of Alberta Press pp. 278-294, found on pages 278-279.

[38] See the media coverage of Professor Adam Gaudry’s [University of Alberta] conference, arguing similarly to Darryl Leroux, but in regards to Acadian Métis. The Signal, « Critics reject claim Métis exist only in the West », February 9 2016. Link last opened on October 13, 2017 :

[39] We consult Denis Jean on works concerning the Acadian Métis, specifically “The role of Métis in the history of the Acadian colony” Notes on the historic Acadian society, vol. 48, #2 (June 2017) pp. 54-72, as well as the excellent thesis written by K.K. MacLeod, Displaced mixed-blood: an ethnographic exploration of Métis identities in Nova Scotia, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2013. See also the works of Victorin N. Mallet, Evidence of Métis Communities around the Bay of Chaleurs, Marquis, Shédiac Cape (N-B.).

[40] Paul L.A.H. Chartrand, “Understanding the Daniels Case on s. 91 (24) Constitution Act 1867”, Aboriginal policy studies, vol. 3, no 3, 2014, p. 128:

As mentioned in my earlier comment on the trial-level decision, this approach performs the function, probably not contemplated by the Court, of distinguishing Métis people from French-Canadians, who are also Indigenous to Canada but are not one of the Aboriginal peoples recognized in s.35 of the Constitution Act 1982. (Emphasis ours)

[41] Leroux 2017, 1:22:15

[42] Louis Riel, “3-156 The Northwestern Métis [Régina]. 85/10-11” in The Collected Writings of Louis Riel / Les écrits complets de Louis Riel, edited by George Stanley, Raymond Huel, Gilles Martel, Glen Campbell, Thomas Flanagan and C. Rocan, vol. 3, Edmonton, The University of Alberta Press pp. 278

[43] Denis Combet and Ismène Toussaint, Gabriel Dumont: Memories of resistance of a Western immortal, Québec, Cornac, 2009, p. 238

[44] Executive for The Alliance, “Letter Sent to Otta Lang”, The Alliance Journal 6 (1), January 1979, p. 6

[45] Robert Foxcurran, Michel Bouchard et Sébastien Malette, Songs Upon the Rivers: The Burried History of the French-Speaking Canadiens and Métis from the Great Lakes and the Mississippi across to the Pacific, Montréal, Baraka Books, 2016, pp. 378-383.

[46] SHSB, Historic Society of Saint-Boniface, Winnipeg, Letter from Louis Riel to Paul Proulx, Roman Catholic Archiepiscopal Corporation Fund of St. Boniface, 0075, Alexander Taché Series. Correspondence. 52987-52990, 1877, p. 3.

[47] We consult here the following articles for measuring the extent of exclusion of French-speaking Métis in the National Métis Union of St. Joseph in Manitoba by the Métis National Council: Bernard Bocquel, “Louis Riel does not appear at the MMF”, Liberty, published November 30, 2016. Link last opened October 13, 2017:; “National Métis Union and the MMF, a dispute which did not start yesterday”. CBC Manitoba, May 25, 2017. Link last opened October 13, 2017:; “The National Métis Union is not welcome at the negotiation table, says the MMF”, CBC Manitoba, February 10, 2017, link last opened October 13, 2017:; “An open letter to Minister Bennett in regards to the rights of French-speaking Métis from Red River”, CBC, February 8, 2017. Link last opened October 13, 2017: :

[48] See this article which explains reconciliation efforts undertaken by Monsieur Dufault: “The Great Disturbance of Métis at Yamachiche”, The Echo of Maskinongé, July 16, 2008. Link last opened October 13, 2017:

[49] Louis Riel, “3-072 Letter to R.B. Deanne, Edgar Dewdney, and John A Macdonald. Regina, 7/6/1885” in The Collected Writings of Louis Riel / Les écrits complets de Louis Riel, edited by George Stanley, Raymond Huel, Gilles Martel, Glen Campbell, Thomas Flanagan and C. Rocan, vol. 3, Edmonton, The University of Alberta Press, 1985, pp. 117-129, page 121.

[50] We would like to thank Mr. Guillaume Marcotte for the numerous archival sources that he graciously shared with us on this subject. An article on the oral history of Marie-Louise Riel and other Métis families from Outaouais is presently in print.

[51] National Libraries and Archives of Québec, Rouyn-Noranda, Diary of a Mission in the Summer of 1838, at the Temiskaming Lake, at the Abitibi lake, at the Great Lake and at the Allumette Fort [copied], 1838, Folio 6, Martineau Donation Funds, P10, S3, SS3, D4, P29; cited in Guillaume Marcotte, French speakers and the fur trade of Greater Temiskaming, a Biographical Dictionary, 1760-1870, Québec, GID Editions, 2017

[52] Canada Library and Archives, North Temiscamingue Agency – Correspondence regarding the land occupied by half breeds, the hospital, the schools on the Temiscamingue Reserve, 1892-1896, RG 10, volume 2654, file 132, 413.

[53] James Martin, “River Desert Agency, Maniwaki, Ottawa Co., Que., 11th Aug., 1894”, in Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs for the Year Ended 30th June 1894, edited by the Dominion of Canada, 31-32, Ottawa: S. E. Dawson, 1895.

[54] Canada Library and Archives, River Desert Agency – Maniwaki – Reports of inspector J.A. MacRae and Martin Bensen respecting schools in the agency, condition of the band members and valuation of lands. 1901-1909, RG 10, volume 3048, piece 237, 660.

[55] Canada Library and Archives, Quebec Fur Conservation – Correspondence and accounts regarding hunting and trapping licences. 1942=1943. RG 10, volume 6752, piece 420-10-2.

[56] Joseph Bouchette, The British Dominions in North America; or a Topographical and Statistical Description of the Provinces of Lower and Upper Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, the Islands of Newfoundland, Prince Edward, and Cape Breton. Including Considerations on Land-Granting and Emigration. To Which are Annexed, Statistical Tables and Tables of Distances, &c. Vol. 1. London. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green and Longman, Paternoster-Row, 1832, p. 190.

[57] Sébastien Malette, “The Métis identity in Québec: the cord of the sash rediscovered”, Policy Options Politiques, November 2, 2014. Link last opened October 13, 2017:

[58] Consult the following articles for a description of the events and the description of the rioters as Acadian Métis distinct from the Micmacs, the French and the English: The Standard, on February 18-19 1886, The Canadian on February 19 1886, Justice on February 18, 1886, The Morning Chronicle on February 19, 1886. Use this website, where the reproductions of the articles are all saved. Link last consulted on October 13, 2017:

[59] See the description comparing the “Paspebiac Halfbreeds” to the Northwestern Métis here: “The destitute fishermen: more trouble anticipated projects to relieve the poor families”, New York Times, Feb 17, 1886, p. 5.

[60] For a sampling of the works of Professor Gagnon, see D. Gagnon, H. Giguère, Métis Identity in Question: Strategic Identity and Cultural Dynamisms. Québec, University Laval Press, 2012; H. Giguère, D. Gagnon, “Presentation on the Métis as a Social Category: Flexibility and Social Issues” Anthropology and Societies, 38 (2), 2014, pp. 13-26; D. Gagnon, “the Métis Nation, the other Métis, and Métis-ness: the paradox of identity contingence”, Anthropology and Societies, 30 (1), 2006, pp. 180-186.

[61] For an excellent lecture on the judicial situation of Québec Métis, see the bilingual article available for free online: Étienne Rivard, “The Indefinable In-Between or the Spatiolegal Arbitrariness of Québec Métis”, Spatial Justice, #11, March 2017 ( For a sampling of the works of Étienne Rivard, we can look at É. Rivard, “Métissage in New France and Canada 1508 to 1886”, Aboriginal Research in Québec, 39 (3), 2009, p. 130; É. Rivard, “Beyond Powley: the Territorial and Identity Horizon for the Métis” Aboriginal Research in Québec, 37 (2/3), 2007, p. 97.

[62] See more of the excellent work of Guillaume Marcotte: G. Marcotte, “Intemperance and Christian Piety: the Canadian voyageurs and the implantantation of Catholic missions in the Indigenous territory of Abitibi-Temiscamingue in 1836-1863”, Rabaska, Ethnological Review of French America 12, 2014, pp. 57-87; G. Marcotte, “A ‘trace of great valor’: Cameron’s Indian card and its potential in relation to the greater Outaouais area, 1760-1870”, Aboriginal Research in Québec, XLV (2-3) 2015, pp. 77-91. G. Marcotte, “French speakers and the fur trade in Greater Temiscamingue. A Biographical dictionary, 1760-1870, Québec, GID Editions, 2015.

[63] Leroux 2017, between 00:27:30 and 00:30:00, 1:12:15


  1. Many thanks for posting this article. I think it will require several readings to follow all the arguments and conflicts and historical research. Somehow, once the Métis were distinguished legally from the métis, conflict was brewing.


    • But they aren’t , there is NO federal definition of Metis .. there are 2 national Metis organizations , who both have very different criteria for being a member .. People are trying to make it look like there is only one Western Metis Nation , look at the senate reports , look at the rcap report 432 , do some research !! CAP has a bilateral agreement with the gov representing the Metis that the RR MNC does not represent .. The people who are being disingenuous are the ones who are trying to say there is only one Metis organization ..


  2. I agree totally with you Jeri that we Metis have traveled all over Canada and the USA. I live in Windsor Ontario and my Ancestors came from Trios River and Michilimackinac.. Pierre Couc and Marie Madeleine Miteouamegoukoue are my ancestors. Very famous for historical contribution to the New France. I am Metis and no one can tell me I am not! Because I do not come from the Red River Region does not mean I am not true Metis. Those are false lies by greedy people trying to be grander then the rest of us. They can read about my ancestors on the web site and my Indigenous ancestors were Algonquin Indian. They need to give their egotistical heads a shake and wake up to the truth.


  3. Hanging one’s Indigenous identity on a sole, long-ago forebear is highly problematic.
    A single individual living thirteen generations ago represents a negligible connection, roughly “1 in 8,192 ancestors,” or about a hundredth of a percent.
    White Canadians of French descent have five times as many English and other European ancestors, so why the focus on Indigenous ancestors?
    If race-shifters have many more English, German, and Portuguese ancestors than Indigenous ones, why not stridently claim those identities as well?
    Sasha Chabot-Gaspé is an Anishinabeg-Kanien’kehá:ka writer in Toronto.
    ( she is from my reserve, I know both her parents, her father is from OKA, my parents know her grandparents..)
    Donna Meness
    Kitigan Zibi Anishnebeg Community


  4. Riel did not rebel against the Canadian government. In 1869 Canada purchased Rupert’s Land. Before the sale was finalized, Canada sent in surveyor’s. As they were not yet the owners of the land, this was not a right the nation-state Canada had. What Canada was practising was “manifest destiny,” a sin we usually attribute to Americans and not he plodding good old Canadians. (Canadians love to see themselves as perfect and sinless. Residential Schools, anyone?) Riel and the M�tis justifiably rose up against this intrusion of a foreign power in their land. It is debatable if such a sale was legal, anyway, given the HBC did not consult the inhabitants of Red River before making the deal with Canada. Clearly, what some misguided Canadian nationalists call a rebellion was really a justified response by a community under attack. I am not M�tis, but these facts are incredibly clear and obvious. I can’t help but get frustrated by the general ignorance about Riel, the most interesting Canadian of the 19th Century
    Was Riel any crazier than Johny Diefenbaker or Mackenzie-King? Is all of this talk of Riel being insane really racism directed towards a visible minority nation?
    The Hudson’s Bay Company owned Rupert’s Land, chartered to it by the King for the fur trade monopoly, so as a company, the HBC did not have to consult with the inhabitants. In 1869, Canada was 2 years old as a nation and could not take this land away from the Aboriginals or from HBC. Canada had no choice to 1) buy the land from HBC and 2) enter into treaties with Aboriginals before expanding settlement due to the Royal Proclamation of 1763. Canada did not have a “Manifest Destiny” like the states, rather, the Brits decided to expand settlement in the west due to the American Manifest Destiny. If there wasn’t a British presence in this area, the Americans would’ve taken it for themselves and what would happen? War and the Brits were in a position to go to war in such a vast area of land. Remember the war cry of the Americans? 5440 or fight! The Oregon territory was jointly settled by the Americans and Brits. Later, the territory was “split” at the 49 parallel to match the border east of the Rockies.
    Sending out surveyors to chart the land to determine ideal areas for settlement was not a bad idea at all. Would you buy unsurveyed land before actually knowing what’s on it? In a way, you’re right, the Red River Colony was a British colony, so, creating a new province with Canada would be between the Red River Colony (Britain) and Canada. I believe Riel attempted to negotiate this.


    • Donna: You are absolutely right. Riel and the Metis did not “rebel” against Canada in 1869/70. At that time Canada consisted of only the four provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. Canada had no jurisdiction west of Ontario at that time. On sending surveyors and others into what is now Manitoba, without receiving valid authority to do so. Canada was a foreign intruder. In resisting this foreign intruder, the Metis and other settlers led a “Resistance”, not a Rebellion”. One does not rebel against a foreign intruder, they resist the intruder LONG LIVE THE METIS NATION (in the broad sense)


  5. In previous posts I’ve said
    In the 1860’s Saskatchewan wasn’t made yet, Ontario & Manitoba Metis people arrived & bought land from the HBC, alas found no friendship among the Protestant settlers, which resulted in war in 1869. When Canadian troops arrived from eastern Canada, Riel (although having established a provisional gov’t at Fort Garry) took off to the U.S. to hang out with his Cree brethern in their southern cousins’ territory.
    So the people having lost their land, leaders & attempted haven from Canadian hatred, settled in more southernly lands & established three (3) settlements. They again established their own gov’t, informing Ottawa they would self-govern until Canada moved out west to establish official “federal” govt. Within the decade Canada reached out west with the railway & settlers.
    The Metis were considered squatters, although they had originally settled their territories since BEFORE Canada’s land acts – which was discrimatory to the Metis in the first place.THEY SENT MANY PETITIONS & RESOLUTIONS TO OTTAWA, BUT LIKE ONTARIO & MANITOBA – their existence was ignored.
    So in 1884, Dumont & three councillors rode to Montana to get Riel. Since the conservatives at the time cut federal monies – so the Indians did without rations & farming assistance as per TREATY agreements. The Metis were screwed under the landacts & white settlers had suffered drought & other calamities. Petitions drawn up by all three affected, again were ignored.
    Eventually the took over a fort & war again… Canada hastily formed a committee & issued land scripted to a chosen few- which caused division with the Metis settlements.
    Meanwhile Canada sent troops by CPR & sleighs.
    Within the month 8000 troops, 500 NWMP & Canadian militia swarmed Riel, Dumont & 150 Metis & the rest- they say- is history.
    8,500+ against 152 people and it only cost the MacDonald gov’t 5million. It probably would have been so much cheaper to honour the treaties & acknowledge the existence of their half-breed relatives!
    In regard to Metis history & political rights, contact the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (formerly the Native Council of Canada) or Martin Dunn or Claude Aubin, both strong Metis men with unlimited knowledge of Canada’s mixed blood history.


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