Hiding in Plain Sight: The Métis Nation

A black-and-white photograph of Louis Riel seated at a desk, ca. 1875

As descendants of First Nations and Europeans, citizens of the Métis Nation were related to both groups while not belonging fully to either. Their culture and nationhood were unique and resulted in an independent identity. Following the Métis resistance at Red River in 1869–1870 and in Saskatchewan in 1885, it became unwise and sometimes dangerous to publicly self-identify. As a group, Métis survived largely by being invisible, a tactic that existed until the 1960s.

In this episode, we feature a discussion between Library and Archives Canada’s Métis researcher William Benoit and Janet La France of the Saint-Boniface Historical Society. They discuss the roles their respective institutions play in providing individuals with a means of unraveling their ancestry, their identity.

Duration: 38:24

File size: 30.8 MB Download MP3

Publish Date: February 25, 2016

  • Transcript of podcast episode 27

    Jessica Ouvrard: Welcome to "Discover Library and Archives Canada: Your History, Your Documentary Heritage." I'm your host, Jessica Ouvrard. Join us as we showcase treasures from our vaults; guide you through our many services; and introduce you to the people who acquire, safeguard and make known Canada's documentary heritage.

    In the 18th century, the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company established a series of posts in order to trade with First Nations. A result of these interactions was marital or common-law unions between Europeans involved in the fur trade and First Nations women, whose descendants eventually came to be known as "Métis."

    As descendants of First Nations and Europeans, citizens of the Métis Nation were related to both groups while not belonging fully to either. Their culture and nationhood were unique and resulted in an independent identity. Following the Métis resistance at Red River in 1869–1870 and in Saskatchewan in 1885, it became unwise and sometimes dangerous to publicly self-identify. As a group, Métis survived largely by being invisible, a tactic that existed until the 1960s.

    Today, the Métis Nation is an internationally recognized Indigenous People with constitutionally protected Aboriginal rights. The Métis, as the Founders of Manitoba and Canada's negotiating partners in Confederation, continue to play an important role in Canada's development.

    In this episode, we feature a discussion between Library and Archives Canada's Métis historian William Benoit and Janet La France of the Centre du patrimoine at the Saint-Boniface Historical Society. They discuss the roles their respective institutions play in providing individuals with a means of unraveling their ancestry, their identity. They started the conversation by talking about how they discovered they were Métis.

    William Benoit: So Janet, one of the things about that period where people didn't self-identify—I know in my family we always refer to it as the dark period—it's the period where you didn't identify outside of your community to others. You either identified as being a French Canadian if you had a French Canadian last name or you identified with the Indians, or I even know Manitobans who would identify as being Hispanic, or Italian for example. Ah, when did you find out?

    Janet La France: Sure, umm, yeah. I found out pretty early on in life. My mom—she's funny—she kind of revealed it to me and my sister as a bit of a family secret, right. So she tells us one day, she says, "Oh you know, just so you know, we're Métis." And I was about seven years old at the time and I didn't really know what that meant, and so I asked my mom, you know, "What does that mean?" She said, "Oh it means that, you know, we have Aboriginal ancestry." She kind of broke it down very, very simply for me at the time and probably wasn't aware of the difference between the definitions that we're dealing with now. But anyways she said, "You know, it means we have Aboriginal ancestry," she says, "but don't tell anybody." And I said, "Well why?" and she goes, "Well not everybody thinks it's a good thing." And then that was basically it—that's what she left me with when I was seven years old. I was in Grade 1 or 2 or whatever, and it kind of made me feel a little bit special, kind of um—you know, a little secret I had with my family that made me different from everybody else. And I didn't really fully understand what it meant or why some people might think it was a bad thing until much later on in life.

    WB: It's interesting because for me, I think we always knew, but it was not so much that I had that day where they sat you down and they discussed this little secret. In my family it was the little stories that just reinforced something that you felt.

    JL: Right.

    WB: The three stories that I tell, and I know we've had this conversation before, is that they always referred to my French Canadian grandfather as one of "the French Canadians," which never that—we the French Canadians" but my grandfather was a French Canadian. And they would talk about Louis Riel and the cousins as being "we the Métis," or "your cousins the Métis," which is a much more inclusive term when we are talking about family and kinship than "your grandfather is French Canadian." Now I loved my grandfather, but we always knew he was French Canadian, that he wasn't Métis. The other stories that I remember as a child and for those that are familiar with the history of Manitoba and the Red River Resistance of 1870, is that one of the victims of the fight between the Canadian militia and the Métis was an individual named Elzéar Goulet—he'd been one of my great uncles. And my grandmother—all the time we were growing up—and I could have been in short pants, I was a teenager even when I used to hear this—whenever we went past that spot on the Red River where the Canadian militia stoned him and he drowned, she would always point out to us, that is where Elzéar Goulet died. And so again, reinforcing the fact that we have a story. And as I got older, one of the ones that I thought was really strange and particularly when I started to work within the Aboriginal community and people realized that I was one of the Riel cousins and in particularly my family is the Lagimodière family, that people would ask me if I knew where the body of Thomas Scott is buried.

    JL: Oh, (laughing) that's funny.

    JO: Thomas Scott was an employee of the Canadian Government who was hired as a surveyor during the Red River Resistance. He was an active member of the Canadian Party and was staunchly opposed to the provisional government of Louis Riel. As a result, he was arrested on several occasions. Ultimately, his insubordination and failure to acknowledge the legitimacy of the provisional government led to his execution in 1870.

    WB: For those that haven't heard this before, what happened is—and everybody has seen the infamous picture of the execution of Thomas Scott in 1870. I had two grandfathers that were responsible for disposing of the body, but not to tell anybody where they disposed the body. So in Winnipeg if you're an Aboriginal historian or just a local historian, there are debates on which cemetery—are there two bodies, one above the other, was there a rock tied around his feet and thrown in the Red River—all these type of stories. But I always thought it was quite interesting that we would get people that I didn't know would say, "So do you know where Thomas Scott is buried?" And then I realized that yes indeed, yes indeed, that was the fact that I was different.

    JL: Mhmm.

    WB: One of the things that you said earlier to me which was interesting was that this was a secret.

    JL: Yeah.

    WB: When did you start sharing the secret?

    JL: So yeah, I guess I started to share the secret, umm, kind of as a teen and, you know, I kind of went through that period where I'm not going to listen to my parents anymore, I'm a teenager, I know everything and so I started kind of being rebellious and embracing things that I thought made me different, right? Umm, so I think that the reason that it took me so long to get to that point from being seven to being a teenager and sharing things was because my father is a French Canadian and we very much identified and were part of the French Canadian community and the Franco-Manitoban community in Manitoba here. And uh, further to that, my mum had experienced some umm—well it's racism, let's call it what it is—she experienced some racism from my father's parents when he proposed to my mum. And it wasn't because they knew that she was Métis, it's because they assumed that she was Métis because she was from St. Norbert. So I guess because of some of that push back from the experiences my mother had, and because she had asked me to keep it to myself, um, it didn't become something that I shared really until I entered my teenager years. And then when I did start to share it with other people, there was a mixed bag of reactions, you know, some people would say, "Oh me too," and that was great because you immediately developed a sense of camaraderie. And then other people would be like, "well the Métis, like what is that, it's not even a thing."

    WB: That's interesting because what that reminded me of is something that really almost bothers me here in Ottawa because I don't do it every day and it became part of me growing up, is the how-are-you-related-to-me discussion.

    JL: Hmm, uhmm, yeah, I totally call that the umm, well I mean lots of communities in Manitoba do that, but it is definitely the Métis or French Canadian game that you play when you meet somebody, you know, "Oh what's your last name," "Oh what's your mother's maiden name," "Oh do you know this family from this town" and you kind of find out how you are all interconnected.

    WB: When you tell people you're Métis, or people come up to you and ask you if you're Métis, what do you tell them now? Now that you've gone through those teenage years that you want to express who you are as an individual and you're stepping past your mother's secret, what do you tell people?

    JL: Sure, well I mean I'm just very honest about it and I just told them, yeah, I'm Métis. Um, and sometimes that causes some follow-up questions and sometimes it doesn't. I kind of gauge the person, you know, if I think that the person is truly asking because they are curious and they want to learn, then I might have a discussion with them about, you know, what it means to be Métis perhaps, or how Métis is defined now. But for the most part people are happy with just the answer of yes or no, and some people will be dismissive, and those that are dismissive I just don't have time for them.

    WB: I think that's the positive side of our generation, is that we're able to possibly step back from that. I wouldn't use the word "a little bit of shame," "a little bit of discomfort" that we had by being connected to these activities, that rather than seeing it as minority rights protests—I think that's the best way of putting it—we were always seen as the rebels, the outcasts, the ne'er-do-wells, if I want to use something really glib. I think that what people might find interesting today is how your job in a local, regional archive, and my position with the Library and Archives Canada—the national level—are different, and how our two positions actually complement each other as we try to assist individuals to learn about their "Métis-ness," if I can use that word.

    JL: Yeah, I use it sometimes too. I'm not sure if it's really a term or not, but I use it all of the time.

    WB: Sure. We'll call it a "Janetism" from now on.

    JL: Ok! (laughs)

    WB: Did you want to start on what you do in Manitoba, and I can offer what we do?

    JL: Yeah sure, I can give you a very basic overview of the services we provide here to Aboriginal clientele. So basically, people come to see us for—usually the main reason is because they are looking to get a genealogy done, have their ancestry investigated and have a Métis ancestor identified using a primary source document of some kind that they can then present—the genealogy and primary source document—to the local provincial Métis federation, who then issues them a Métis card. So the majority of our clients, like I say, they come in and they want a genealogy because they want to apply for a Métis card. So what we offer as a service is we take in the—it's very, you know, one-on-one basis—somebody comes in, we sit down with them, we help them fill out the paper work, we ask them for copies of their photo ID, and their long-form birth or baptismal certificate, and then we have them—we kind of do a bit of a quiz session with them. And this has mixed results too because some people, you know, they're just really in touch with their family and know everything right off of the top of their head and other people, you know, they can't even come up with grandma's name because they always called her Nana. So anyways, we sit down with them and we say what's your mom's name, what's her birthday, where was she born, and so on and so forth for at least up to grandparents. And from there, we investigate what the client has given us as information by basically substantiating what they've said through the use of primary and secondary source documents. So if they say that, you know, grandma died in 1980 and we think she was born in 1901—ok great—so we're going to look for an obituary to verify that death date, we're going to look for censuses to verify her birthdate, we're going to look for her vital stats, we're going to look for her baptismal registers and then when we find these documents, we're able to then connect her to her parents and her grandparents and her great-grandparents and kind of work backwards through the line to create a family tree. So once we have the tree well underway, we can start to look for whether or not within that tree this client in particular has an ancestor who might identify as a Métis person. And usually the documents that we're looking for to prove "Métis-ness" would be a document like a scrip affidavit or a census record, or in some cases we might even use something like a fur trader's journal reference, or an ecclesiastical record like a baptism or a marriage or a burial record in which the priest may have noted that this person was Métis. So anyways, once we have all that together, we then call the client, they come pick up their genealogy and then they can go forth with that genealogy and make application to, in this case, the Manitoba Métis Federation, but of course there are provincial affiliates for this type of organization in most of the western provinces.

    WB: Excellent. So if somebody got work done at one of the genealogy societies, or they did the work themselves, if they got it from you, they would have a stamp that would say "Jane Doe, no Métis ancestry found," and it's a done deal?

    JL: That's right, if there is no Métis found then there is a stamp on it. And if there is Métis found, then there is no stamp and we've attached a proof document to show that one of their ancestors is identifying as a Métis person.

    WB: Cool. So you mentioned as we were talking that you use scrip affidavits…

    JL: Yup. Scrip affidavits are very, very useful.

    WB: Could you just briefly tell us what a scrip affidavit was originally for?

    JL: Yeah. So scrip affidavits were basically a claim that eligible half-breed head of households and their children could fill out in order to receive land or money, and I believe the first commission took place in 1874–75, and there continued to be several different commissions well into the early 1900s. But basically what is really interesting for us with the scrip affidavits is that it's somebody identifying themselves by name and telling you on that affidavit when they were born, where they were born, who their parents are and how their parents ethnically identify. So you might have, you know, Louis Larivière, who is the son of Louis Larivière, a French Canadian, and Mary Lambert, a Métis woman—and that would have been written on that sort of document. So it's a very good—it's basically a government issued document that has been filled out by somebody who would have been eligible for land or money when it was first disbursed.

    WB: So I'm just curious, were those your great-grandparents you used as an example?

    JL: No, the Larivières are not in my tree at all.

    WB: Ok, you just gave a good example, I just was wondering.

    JL: Yeah, I come across them a lot, there's an awful lot of people in St. Malo who are related to the Larivières, it seems they are all related to this Larivière family. So these are just the first people that came to mind. My family is actually Charrettes and Gosselins from St. Norbert.

    WB: Ah, that's excellent. I'm sorry, I'm always snoopy—you know that!

    JL: No, no, I totally understand and I am also snoopy, and it's probably kind of rude of us in some ways to you know, try to figure people out all of the time. But when you're a part of the community, I think people just kind of get it.

    WB: Exactly. I asked you earlier about what your institution and the regional institutions across Canada would offer. At the national level—Library and Archives Canada—what we're known for is supplying some of the, what I could call the "big name" documents, the scrip documents that you were mentioning earlier are key to the identification of the Métis in the northwest.

    JL: Definitely, I access your guys' index for Métis scrip records every day.

    WB: Right, and it's online and some of the older libraries across Canada actually have them on microfilm.

    JL: That's right, and actually we do have the microfilms of the serials for the Métis scrip affidavits, but we don't have "T" reels, so when it's in your index as a "T" reel, I actually don't have access to it. But when it's on a "C" reel, it might already be digitized or else we have it here. So that's the way I can access it, but I also use the Métis National Council online database because it has a variety of scrips that sometimes aren't digitized at Library and Archives Canada.

    WB: Right. One of the things that we do have that we haven't mentioned—actually you did mention—is the Canadian census. Obviously, the government of Canada is the holder of the Canadian census information and it is key to the study of Métis. One of the things that I would like to point out at this point is that some censuses are better than others.

    JL: Absolutely!

    WB: With regard to what information they hold, the census that most researchers of Métis history want to see is the 1901 census, because in the 1901 census they identify people by colour: red, white, black and yellow—which is a good indicator that you're looking at a Métis family with the "R" for red, as compared to "W" or "B" for blanc [white] for a French-Canadian family with the same last name. And it also identifies the tribal group or the ethnicity of individuals by their combination. So you could be listed as—and tell me if I've forgotten some—"French breed," "English breed," "Scotch breed," "Bungee"—am I missing any? "Other breed"?

    JL: "Other breed" is another one, I've even seen "black breed."

    WB: "Black breed," that's interesting. And for those that haven't heard the expression, the Métis almost exclusively in the 19th century in government documents are referred to as "half-breeds;" they didn't make a separation between the English-speaking and generally Protestant Métis, which on the Prairies we used to call them "country born," from the Métis which traditionally has been the French and Catholic side of the community.

    JL: Yeah, the documents on that are really a mixed bag. Like, I'm just getting back to the census references—sometimes I have also seen "MS" which is "Métis Français". And I think it really does come down to the language in which the record taker is most comfortable in, because I have seen people who are clearly of Scottish/English/Métis background who are identified as Métis in a French document, let's say by a priest, OK, and I have also seen people who clearly would have been French-speaking Métis identified as half-breeds in government documents on census records because the enumerator is an Anglophone.

    WB: Oh, that's an excellent point to make! The other thing is to note—is that some individuals in some censuses are listed as Métis or half-breed and in the next census they are listed either as French Canadian or their ethnicity is English. At points in time it was more pertinent to identify Métis or First Nations—or if somebody was white, English or French, than in other years. So sometimes you can read the censuses and there are some issues. The other thing that we have that isn't ethnically based, but from a research perspective that I would challenge Canadians to look at, are what we call "voters lists." In the genealogy section at Library and Archives Canada, we have documents that allow us to look for our parents on voters lists—where were they and were they eligible to vote in a particular community, in say 1950, for example. And that would allow you to see if you're looking for your family in the right location. What is key about voters lists is it's just John Doe living on a street in a particular community. There is no identification as to ethnicity and as we know the biases of previous generations, wives are Mrs. David Jones, they are not Marie Jones or anything like that.

    JL: No [laughing] yeah, that makes it a little more challenging to identify the family group, honestly. I have used voters lists in the past; I've also used Henderson Directories and I feel that they have kind of a similar way of them. Like basically it helps you find out where the family is and maybe how many people were in the household, that sort of thing. But it's not great for identifying a person ethnically or culturally, right?

    WB: OK. One of the things that I missed when I wanted to say what Library and Archives Canada does—we don't have, generally speaking for Western Canada, church records, vital statistics records because vital statistics is a provincial responsibility, and so they would be in Regina—they would be in Thunder Bay for Ontario, and so forth across the country. So we don't have vital statistics. We don't have, with exception, ecclesiastical records, church registers for the regions of western Canada. We do, however, have something that I think is almost as good for those that are moved past the genealogy of the formal tree. My father's name is...my grandmother and grandfather's names are…and so forth, but we have a lot of contextual information. And I challenge Canadians that when they get to that stage where they want to look who are the Métis contextually—maps, city plans, maps of the river lots of the Métis in western Canada, photographs, art—these are the things that Library and Archives Canada has in a large volume, which allows for the contextualization of the life of a community.

    JL: Definitely!

    WB: I'm going to just sing praises of one of the other cultural institutions, one of the sister institutions of western Canada—the Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatchewan has a lovely site and one of the things that they have mentioned on one of their sites is that they have this list identifying who all the women were living in Saskatchewan at the time of the resistance of 1885. So the list is actually the women at Batoche, and so what it does is that it's not necessarily helpful from a perspective of knowing a genealogical record—my grandmother was born on this date, and my great uncles were here.

    JL: Yeah, it kind of leaves genealogy territory and gets into family history territory.

    WB: Right, exactly. And then it allows people to have an appreciation in the classroom or in the home—being able to look at—were my people there, what was the life of women and children in that community, at what often people think might have been a dry historical point in time, and I think—I used the Gabriel Dumont Institute as an example, but that's where we complement the work that the regional facilities are doing.

    JL: Uhmm, yeah I know, the Gabriel Dumont Institute definitely has a wonderful website; I've used it many times. I think it's a great resource, and actually because we don't have the resources or staff to offer family histories to people—we do genealogy, right? And as we were saying, there is a distinction between the two. And I think that the family history part, when you start filling in the anecdotes and filling in all the details of, like you know, what kind of house he lived in, or how many cattle he had and that sort of thing, that's really a labour of love and I do encourage our clients that once they have the genealogy as a framework of reference to who their ancestors are, they can start looking into it more deeply on their own using resources like Gabriel Dumont Institute and using Library and Archives Canada, and using even the HBC [Hudson's Bay Company] Archives as well.

    WB: Do you have a story about a particular genealogical case that moved you that you could share?

    JL: I do—I do have one that kinda—it happened pretty early on in my employment here and it's always sort of stuck with me since, and situations have changed a little bit on the legal front that has made things a lot easier for people who were in this client's same situation. But I actually had a young lady come in, who had been a permanent ward of CFS [Child and Family Services of Manitoba] and she basically didn't know anything about her family at all. She knew her birth mother's name, she had never been in contact with her, and you know it was really hard for this young woman to go through it. I mean we couldn't build her a genealogy without some basic information, and because she was a permanent ward and estranged from her family and had never spoken to them, she showed some incredible strength and courage actually, and she made contact with her birth mother and made contact with her grandmother—her birth grandmother—to get some of this information for us. And the information was, you know, kind of spotty, but it was enough that we were able to build her a nice solid tree. And she had, you know, Ojibway ancestors, and Cree ancestors, and a bunch of Métis families in there all mixed in together. And when we gave her back her genealogy, she just burst into tears and said, "I've never known who I truly am." And so that just like—that just really stuck with me and showed—was an indication to me of how important identity is, and a sense of belonging.

    WB: It's interesting—your mother sharing the secret, you know, sitting you and your sister down—actually created a series of opportunities for you, for growth if for nothing else, that we forget that others are denied depending on their circumstances.

    JL: Definitely, yeah. And I don't know how it would be like to grow up not truly knowing anything about your family or where you come from. Like, I have no idea what that feels like. So I was very happy to help her obviously, and like I say, laws have changed somewhat and adoption records have become far more accessible now in Manitoba and it is opening the doors up for adoptees to find out more about their families. So I don't think that the situation that I witnessed back then is going to happen again, and that's probably a good thing.

    WB: My story is very similar so I would probably say if there was one theme running through them, it's the emotional reaction that we get to people.

    JO: Early in William's career he worked at the Saint-Boniface Historical Society in Winnipeg, where Janet now works. Here he tells a story of a young couple who arrived at the Historical Society looking to discover whether the young woman had Métis lineage in her family tree.

    WB: I don't think I've mentioned—at one point I was doing the same job as Janet is currently doing, and I was sitting and there was a young gentleman and he waited until she went off to a bank, or to get lunch—I don't remember what the circumstances was for her leaving—and he sat there, and I sort of paused and wondered why were you actually still here. I know that sounds really strange, but I thought the reason for them being there was the business that the young lady had wanted. And I have to describe him, he was classically "Dutch" looking, with the exception that he had extremely straight hair, which, if we're going to make stereotypes about ethnicity, it's not uncommon for Aboriginal Canadians to have very straight hair and he asked if I did Dutch genealogies, and I said no. The facility that Janet works at specializes in French-Canadian and Métis families in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. And I said, "But is there something I can help you with?" And he said, "I have one great-grandmother we are not allowed to talk about."

    JL: Oh!

    WB: Yeah, "oh" is the way I responded as well. And I says, "But what do you know?" And he says, "I remember as a small child seeing a little cutout…"—from the 1930s or the 1950s—I can't remember now—"that just said pioneer woman dies, and it made a reference to her being the last child born in Red River before Canada took control in 1870."

    JL: Interesting.

    WB: So there is that little bit of information you hold onto, and he knew her first name. And I said, "Where was she from?" And for those that don't know it, one of the big forts that remain in Manitoba, is Lower Fort Gary—it's just north of the downtown [Winnipeg]—and ironically doing research, we realized that the woman was indeed the last child born in the parish of St. Andrews, where the fort is, days before Canada took control in 1870. At that point I was able to give him a—what I would refer to now as a junior tree, because we didn't touch the Dutch sides of his family, but we were able to create a very strong country-born English-Métis family.

    JL: That's excellent.

    WB: And I handed it to him and I do remember the slight shake and the need for Kleenex, as this grown man is looking at this document. And where it gets a little—kind of mixed emotions for me is that from what I understand is that he took it to his family and he showed it to them, and I received a call the following day from the grandmother saying it wasn't my right to share that information with her grandson.

    JL: Oh goodness!

    WB: And I don't know if you've ever had that situation. I see that as part of the group that had spent so much time wanting to be safe, so we didn't want to discuss our "Métis-ness" or our Métis ethnology with the outside world, and now the grandson has got that document himself, and he can get a card. I should point out that I don't think things have changed—Janet, you can confirm—that he can be Métis and get a Métis card, but if the grandmother wants to continue being listed as a Scottish ethnicity Canadian, that she can choose that, and he can get his card and it doesn't have an impact on who she is and how she self-identifies?

    JL: No, each individual goes—like you have to apply for a card, before you can actually receive one, you don't just automatically get added because your grandson got a card. So definitely there's—as long as she—if she wants to keep identifying as a Scottish-Canadian and that's how she identifies on censuses and that's how she identifies everywhere, then that's what people—like there is nothing to dispute that; it's her own sense of identity and just because you were able to find Métis ancestry that other people in her family are going to embrace and are embracing, it doesn't force her to do so.

    WB: I remember that it was all about the puzzle. And I tend to be quite an emotional person. I emote—call it "get teary," whatever you want to call it. I found that for myself the happiness or the joy, the frustration, I fed off it, good or bad—because what happens is you'd say, "OK that person didn't get what they needed today," or "that person had their world view changed by genealogy," and that's hard to explain. Here in Ottawa I've spent many a day trying to figure out how to say this and the best I could come up with is that when one looks at Aboriginal genealogies, often it has to do with empowerment. Who are you? How do you fit into Canadian society?

    JL: Yeah.

    WB: Sometimes it has to do with any type of the government programs, sometimes it's just that grandparent they never talked about. My example of the Canadian boy with the three Dutch grandparents and the Scottish grandmother that they didn't talk about, sometimes it makes you whole. It's interesting to always know all your grandparents, and I'm the first person to tell you to do genealogies, but at the same time, I always, in my back of my head am saying, with Aboriginal genealogies it's about empowerment. And this person can stand a little straighter or understand why the family may have some of these issues that they have. I'm sorry I interrupted.

    JL: No, I interrupted you actually, I'm sorry! I think what you're getting at is that there is something validating in a genealogy that turns out to have Aboriginal ancestry in it, and so I think that when people can validate their claim, there's a sense of pride in that and a sense of recognition in that and I think that so many Aboriginal people have struggled for so hard to just be recognized and to know who they are.

    JO: To learn more about the Métis Nation, First Nations and Inuit peoples of Canada, visit our Aboriginal Heritage Portal. You can find it listed under "Popular Topics" on our homepage at bac-lac.gc.ca. If you'd like to access the services available at the Centre du patrimoine of the Saint-Boniface Historical Society, visit their website at shsb.mb.ca.

    Library and Archives Canada proudly presents the exhibition, "Hiding in Plain Sight: The Métis," on display until April 22, 2016. The exhibition explores the portrayal of the Métis Nation in artwork and photographs in LAC's collection. You can find out more about the exhibition on our website at bac-lac.gc.ca.

    If you are interested in viewing images associated with this podcast, including many of the images featured in the exhibition, you can access a direct link to our Flickr gallery at bac-lac.gc.ca/podcasts.

    Thank you for joining us. I'm your host, Jessica Ouvrard, and you've been listening to "Discover Library and Archives Canada"—where Canadian history, literature and culture await you. A special thanks to our guests today, William Benoit and Janet La France.

    For more information about our podcast, or if you have questions, comments or suggestions, please visit us at bac-lac.gc.ca/podcasts.


Subscribe to automatically receive new episodes.

Related links

The Métis Nation Flickr Album
Aboriginal Heritage – Métis Nation
Métis Scrip Records
Métis Genealogy
Thematic Guide - Louis Riel, the Red River Rebellion and the North West Campaign
Our Voices, Our Stories: First Nations, Métis and Inuit Stories

Contact the podcast team

Send your feedback to: bac.balados-podcasts.lac@canada.ca