Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 23 - Evidence-September 24, 2012
WINNIPEG, Monday, September 24, 2012
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples met this day at 8:15
a.m. to examine and report on the legal and political recognition of Metis
identity in Canada.
Senator Gerry St. Germain (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: I call the meeting to order. Good morning. I would like
to welcome all honourable senators and members of the public who are
watching this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal
Peoples. They will either be watching on the Web or possibly on CPAC.
I am Gerry St. Germain, now from British Columbia but originally here
from Manitoba where I was born. I have the honour of chairing this committee.
We are very happy to embark on a series of hearings and fact finding that
takes us out of Ottawa to meet with Canadians from Manitoba, Saskatchewan,
Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. We are travelling
as part of a study on Metis identity. We are very impressed with the amount
of engagement in the Metis community and appreciative of your efforts to
attend to testify before us today.
The mandate of this committee is to examine legislation and matters
relating to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada generally. Today we will
continue to explore Metis issues, particularly those relating to the
evolving legal and political recognition of the collective identity and the
rights of Metis in Canada.
Before introducing our witnesses, I will introduce the members of the
committee who are present today. On my right is the deputy chair, Lillian
Dyck, from the Province of Saskatchewan. Next to Senator Dyck is Senator
Greene Raine from the Province of British Columbia. Last, but certainly not
least, is my good colleague Senator Sibbeston from the Northwest Territories.
Members of the committee, please help me in welcoming our first panel of
witnesses. On behalf of the Ministry of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs
Manitoba, we are honoured to have Eleanor Brockington, Director, Policy and
I understand you may have a colleague joining you, Ms. Brockington?
Eleanor Brockington, Director, Policy and Strategic Initiatives,
Ministry of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Manitoba: Yes.
The Chair: In view of the fact I have heard of your capabilities,
I am sure you are able to handle it. If you have a presentation, would you
be so kind as to make your presentation. I am sure the senators will have
questions of you, and I hope you are prepared to answer a few of them,
please. Please proceed.
Ms. Brockington: Good morning, Mr. Chair and senators. I am
appearing on behalf of our Ministry of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs.
Deputy Minister Harvey Bostrom was unable to be here, so I was asked if I
could come and share some information with the committee about our
department and some of the involvement that we have had with Metis and Metis
organizations of Manitoba.
Aboriginal and Northern Affairs is not a large department. I am with the
Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat, and there is another division that is
largely based in the north, called Local Government Development. They have
an office in Thompson, a sub-office in The Pas and in Dauphin. The
Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat has three branches, including Agreements
Management, Policy and Strategic Initiatives, and the Aboriginal
Consultations Unit, which my colleague Loretta Bayer was going to be here
with me to share about.
We are not a large department compared to the other provincial
departments. We have a staff of just less than 100 people and we provide
service to all of Manitoba.
With the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat, we are fairly new as well. The
secretariat was established in 1982-83, partly as a result of the
constitutional discussions that had been happening, as well as in
recognition of the fact that many of the Aboriginal people in Manitoba were
becoming urbanized. The government decided to establish the secretariat to
look at the circumstances and to be involved in the circumstances of
Aboriginal people who were not residing on- reserve.
We do have relationships with all the First Nations, Metis and Inuit
Aboriginal peoples. With the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat and the Policy
and Strategic Initiatives, we are involved with the Metis on several areas.
One of the primary Metis organizations we are involved with is the Manitoba
Metis Federation. We provide some core funding and project funding to
Manitoba Metis Federation. We have some established relationships. The
Manitoba Metis Federation currently has relationships with at least 12 of
the Manitoba departments. In some of those, we have been involved in
providing some support, but in some of them, we are not involved.
In terms of other Metis organizations, we have had some involvement with
the L'Union nationale métisse Saint- Joseph which is probably the oldest
Metis organization in Manitoba. They were established in 1887 and have been
operating since then. We have had some relationship with them. Their primary
objective is to preserve Metis culture and heritage and history. We have
been involved in some of the projects in which they have done some
educational projects to promote awareness of Metis culture and heritage in
Regarding some of the other organizations that we know Metis are part of
but are not primarily just for Metis, the other next oldest organization is
the Indian and Metis friendship centres. The first Indian and Metis
friendship centre in Canada was based out of here in Winnipeg. Currently
there are 11 Indian and Metis friendship centres. They now have a Manitoba
Association of Friendship Centres that provides coordination and functions
for the friendship centres. We do provide funding to those organizations as
well. That funding is administrated through the Manitoba Association of
I had mentioned our other division, Local Government Development. Fifty
communities are administered under the Northern Affairs Act. Many of those
communities in the past were referred to as Metis communities. Now, many of
them are identified as Northern Affairs communities. Many of those
communities are adjacent to First Nations. The population in those Northern
Affairs communities, of course many of them have Metis but many of them have
First Nations, and they have mayor and councils and they have Northern
Affairs community councils that provide the local administration.
In terms of the more recent work, I have been with the department for 10
years now, so I will refer to some of the more recent work. I had placed
before you Aboriginal profile or Aboriginal people in Manitoba. This is the
third edition that we have produced. The first two editions we did jointly
with the Government of Canada, and this time they chose not to partner with
us on it. It is a publication that our department undertook. It utilizes the
2006 Census, but some of the program areas are more recent, like 2010, 2011,
and we have plans to update the document once the 2011 Census becomes
Right now, the Aboriginal population is about 175,000 in Manitoba, and
about 71,000 are Metis. When you look at single response on the census, it
actually shows 66,800 Metis, but there were some Metis that identified as
Metis and either First Nation or another Aboriginal group, so about 5,000 or
6,000 additional to bring the population up to a little bit over 71,000. Now
that is about 6 per cent of Manitoba's population. In terms of the
Aboriginal population, the percentage is about 15.5 per cent of Manitoba's
I will not go into a lot of the detail of the statistics. You can read it
in the document. I know that you have other presentations in which you
probably received a lot of statistics. The Metis population in Manitoba is
very young. There is a feeling that there is that ethnic mobility involved
in it because the population grew quite a bit between the 2001 Census and
the 2006 Census, and more and more people are identifying as Metis.
In terms of some of the socio-economic statistics, we have seen a trend
of an improvement in terms of employment, education and median income. There
has been an improvement in those areas.
Some of the work that we have been involved with, the other document that
I have before you is what we have called the Manitoba Metis Policy. This
came out of one of the recommendations of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry
commission that Manitoba should develop Metis policy in partnership with the
Manitoba Metis Federation. That is what we have done. There were some
principles that were agreed to and the Manitoba Metis policy framework was
accepted. So that was in 2010. With the acceptance of the Metis policy as
well, we had an event in which the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia was
recognized by Manitoba as the first legislative assembly of Manitoba. There
was a ceremony to formally recognize that assembly. The assembly of
Assiniboia was primarily Metis members, and whatever portraits we have been
able to get of the members so far, now hang in our members' gallery at the
legislature. That was a very significant event.
At the present time, we are still working. We have a lot of work ahead of
us to look at how we were going to implement the policy based on the
principles that we have agreed to. That is ongoing work.
I did not do a written presentation because I did not have time to get it
translated into French. I will leave it at that. We do quite a bit of work
in our area. We have been involved. We did some work on the Metis economic
strategy as well. I did not bring that document. We had completed that in
2008. That still drives some of the work we are doing. Currently, there is a
Metis economic development fund. MEDF Inc. came into being last year. Again,
that is a joint entity between Manitoba and the Manitoba Metis Federation.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. Brockington. I will ask the
As far as identification and registration and enumeration of the Metis
people goes, do you leave that to the MMF, the Manitoba Metis Federation, or
are you involved in that at all as a provincial government?
Ms. Brockington: We are not involved in the work of the
registration that is happening right now that came about with Canada as a
result of the Powley decision. In Manitoba, like I said, we have had
numerous arrangements with the Manitoba Metis Federation, especially as it
relates to programs and services. The issue of Metis identity is I guess one
of the criteria that are recognized is self-identification and acceptance in
the community. However, the Manitoba government itself has not created a
policy on Metis identity. When it comes to programs and services, the
element of choice is one of the criteria that are looked at when setting up
programs and services. Regarding programs and services, the Metis Child and
Family Services Authority, for example, is open to Metis but there is an
element of choice that other people can utilize that service if they so
You will see on page 57, I believe, that there are other people utilizing
the services. There is the Metis Authority; in 2011, they had 24 Inuit, 695
Metis, 54 non-status, 44 treaty status and 91 non-Aboriginal people utilize
their services. Many of the programs and services are determined on a
case-by-case basis as to what the arrangement will be.
One of the last significant arrangements that we have just made with the
MEDF Inc. is to create a program, Metis Equity Partnerships, and it is open
to Metis businesses and Metis economic development corporations. The
criterion for Metis is through the genealogy for the business owners or the
members of the community organization.
The Chair: Would you refresh my memory regarding what the MEDF is?
Ms. Brockington: The Metis Economic Development Fund. It is an
agreement. Manitoba agreed to contribute roughly $10 million over five years
to this Metis Economic Development Fund.
Senator Dyck: You were saying that in that Metis Economic
Development Fund there are criteria for determining if the business was
Metis, and you mentioned genealogy.
Ms. Brockington: Yes.
Senator Dyck: Is that the only criterion? Do you have others?
Ms. Brockington: People would have to identify us.
Senator Dyck: Self-identify?
Ms. Brockington: Yes. But instead of a simple affidavit, they have
to also demonstrate through genealogy.
Senator Dyck: Through the genealogy, how do you determine whether
the genealogy is actually a Metis family who makes that decision? How do you
decide who are Metis families? How do you decide that? Do you compare it to
a registry, for example, that the Metis Manitoba group might have, or how do
you verify that?
Ms. Brockington: The registry would not be the only — it is open
to all Metis. We understand the registry that is being created, that there
are two registries; one is for the Metis harvesting part and then the other
one is for the membership of the Manitoba Metis Federation. Certainly I
think if someone were to say they had produced a membership in either of
those, that it would be accepted. Like I said, the Metis Economic
Development Fund is a new entity so the boards are still working through
some of the actual practical experience of delivering that program.
Senator Dyck: For the Metis that have the rights to harvesting,
they have a card. Are they all included also under the Manitoba Metis
Ms. Brockington: No. They do not have to be a member of the
Manitoba Metis Federation. I have been informed about the registries, but I
cannot speak to the details of it. However, I do know that in order to have
the Metis harvesting card, you do not have to have a membership in the
Manitoba Metis Federation. That is what I was told when I went to look at
the registry that was being created.
Senator Dyck: On a different topic on education, I like looking at
statistics, and one of the things that I noticed is that the Metis people in
general across Canada seem to have higher post-secondary education than
First Nations. In Manitoba, does the provincial government have any programs
that support Metis people to get post-secondary education or any programs
that support public school education?
Ms. Brockington: We do not have anything that is specifically for
Metis. The Manitoba government created the Access programs at the
post-secondary level, and those are open to Metis First Nations and Inuit to
get additional support while they are in post-secondary university. We also
have the Louis Riel Institute, and that was supported through the Department
of Education for core funding. They work in the areas of education. We have
a project called Standing Tall. Originally it was an arrangement between
Manitoba and the Manitoba Metis Federation, but it is now being administered
through the Louis Riel Institute. Basically what it does is provide
additional supports in two of the elementary schools in Winnipeg. Those
social supports are to mitigate some of the problems that the students might
have in terms of attending school. It is not focused on the academic but
more on providing support and reinforcing the identity, valuing the identity
of the Metis and the First Nation and Inuit. Again, it is not restricted
just to the Aboriginal students; it is open to the students in the schools.
The evaluations have shown that it has enabled many of the students to stay
in school because many of the students were dropping out even as early as in
grade 8. In certain middle schools that the program is running in, the
program is demonstrating good results in terms of motivating the students to
stay in school and to move on to high school.
The Chair: Thank you.
Colleagues, I want to interject. I need a motion from the senators to ask
permission for a portion of the meeting to be televised for TV news here in
Manitoba by Citytv network. Could I have a motion to that effect? All in
favour? Opposed, if any?
You have your motion.
Ms. Brockington: I should maybe add that our Department of
Conservation and Water Stewardship has been working with the Manitoba
Federation on Metis harvesting. I understand that the Department of
Conservation was not able to come to this panel but is planning to provide
some information to the committee at a later date.
The Chair: That is interesting. Are they just in the process of
establishing policy in this area?
Ms. Brockington: I understand that is the case, yes.
Senator Raine: First of all, I am very impressed with the
documentation that you have given us and your policies for dialoguing with
the groups together rather than separating them. It makes sense especially
in remote areas where you have a diverse population that the programs serve
more than just one small slice of the population. I would congratulate you
I am just wondering how you relate to the federal government with regard
to Metis people.
Ms. Brockington: Yes, we do quite a bit of work with the federal
government in what used to be called the Office of the Federal Interlocutor.
Canada and Manitoba have had a long-standing working relationship with the
Manitoba Metis Federation through a tripartite agreement. It started in 1987
and is probably the longest running tripartite Metis table that we know of.
The arrangement is that both Canada and Manitoba contribute equally into it
financially, to enable the capacity of the Manitoba Metis Federation to look
at the areas that are a priority to the Manitoba Metis Federation, to the
members. With many of the developments we have seen over the years, probably
the first part of the development originated from the table in the creation
of the Louis Riel Institute, the initial discussions on Metis Child and
Family, which lead to the Metis Authority. Now, as I said, we have the Metis
Economic Development Fund. Many of the initiatives started from that
tripartite table and development. Then once developed, they are usually
handed off either to be overseen or to be run by a stand-alone agency or
Senator Raine: Do you have in Manitoba, for the Metis and perhaps
also for First Nations, good preschool programs, Head Start programs? It is
pretty obvious that if you arrive at grade 1 and lots of other children have
been getting preschool training, then you would be at a great disadvantage
starting in grade 1, which can set you up to have difficulty all through
your school years. Is there a good Head Start type of program for Metis and
First Nations in Manitoba?
Ms. Brockington: Yes. There are Head Start programs in Manitoba
that were set up, I believe, somewhere around 1995-96. There are First
Nations-specific ones and then there are what they call off-reserve and it
was called Aboriginal Head Start and they are open to Metis, First Nation
and Inuit. I cannot tell you exactly how many Aboriginal Head Start sites
there are currently in Manitoba. I know when it first started way back in
1995-96, I was involved in establishing the provincial committees and
initially started off with eight First Nation sites and four off-reserve
sites. They have expanded somewhat, but I believe there is a need for more
Aboriginal Head Start sites.
We also have our Healthy Child Manitoba office that deals primarily with
early child development. Again, in this book here, they will see some of the
results from the Early Development Index, which measures the school
readiness of children. There is quite a bit of work going on. I do believe
that it is also a relationship that the Manitoban Metis Federation has.
There is a Little Moccasins Healthy Baby Program, which our Healthy Child
Manitoba office contributes to. There is a Neah Kee Papa Program, which is
addressed to single parents, fathers. Then there is the Healthy Child
Manitoba liaison coordinator service. Some work is happening in that area to
address early childhood development.
Senator Raine: In your experience, do you feel these early
childhood programs are worthwhile, are a good investment for Canadians?
Ms. Brockington: Yes. I believe that the early childhood programs
are a good investment for society as a whole, not just in terms of school
readiness but in terms of providing support for parents so that the child
has a healthy upbringing. I would like to see more of culturally based
programs to reinforce the identity of the child that they are learning at
home, and to be proud of their identity whether it be Metis, First Nation or
Inuit. Of course, we know that there is diversity within those cultures.
I am a Cree woman and my identity is as a Cree woman; it is not as an
Ojibwa or a Dakota. There are some variations in terms of the language we
speak and the customs and traditions we have. I was saying that any of the
early development programs that are there for the community need to
reinforce the culture of that community.
Senator Raine: I am sort of monopolizing it, but I would like you
to comment on it. Are there any programs in the Michif language, and is
anything being done to strengthen that language with the young people?
Ms. Brockington: I am not personally aware of any programs that
are in the Michif language.
Senator Dyck: Would you make a recommendation that there be
funding for that from the federal government? Should there be programming
that allows for language development?
Ms. Brockington: Yes, I would support that. Personally I would
support that there would be language programming.
Senator Sibbeston: It is interesting being here in Manitoba,
homeland of the Metis Riel. I come from the Northwest Territories and I am a
Metis. Being Metis, you hear stories about your origin, it being related to
Louis Riel and the Metis here in Manitoba. So I imagine, this being kind of
the homeland of many of the Metis in our country, that the Metis people in
Manitoba would be well organized and developed and fairly advanced from a
government perspective; you work with the government. Is that the case? What
is the state of Metis people in Manitoba? Are they well off? Are they
diminishing? Are they increasing? What is the state of Metis people in
Ms. Brockington: Well, from what the statistics tell us, they are
increasing significantly. More people are identifying as Metis. Also the
median income is increasing. In fact it increased quite a bit. I would have
to look to get the figures but it is quite a significant increase. I am just
looking at a chart. The increase in Aboriginal incomes is almost entirely
due to the Metis, whose median incomes grew from $17,000 to $20,000 or by
15.5 per cent between Census 2001 and Census 2006. That is one of the charts
we have in there. It is increasing.
Senator Sibbeston: I know in Alberta there are many Metis
colonies, groupings of Metis people that live together in an area. What
about the situation in Manitoba? Are there Metis communities in themselves
or are they simply part of larger communities, First Nations and then
Ms. Brockington: Well, there are Metis throughout the province and
there are seven regions that the Manitoba Metis Federation has. But by and
large, the majority of the Metis population in Manitoba is in the southern
half of the province. There are communities that refer to themselves as
Metis communities. However, when you go further north, many of those
communities are blended in with other communities.
Senator Sibbeston: You mentioned that the Manitoba government has
about 100 employees that are dedicated to Aboriginal people. Is that
significant? I do not know the situation in other provinces, but do you feel
that the Manitoba government is taking the Metis people and Aboriginal
people seriously? Are they doing enough?
Ms. Brockington: Yes. I had commented that there were only 100
people in our department. You know, there is 100 staff. When you look at
other departments, some of the larger departments, for example, and
Conservation and Water Stewardship, they have a branch that is devoted to
First Nations and Metis relationships. Also in Health, there is a First
Nations and Metis and Inuit health unit. Justice has an Aboriginal community
Senator Sibbeston: Perhaps Social Services too?
Ms. Brockington: Family Services have. But most of the work,
especially with Child and Family, is done through the authorities. There is
the Metis Authority which oversees the Metis Child and Family agency. Then
you have the First Nations Authority for the north and then the First
Nations Authority for the south and the general authority. Much of the work
for the Aboriginal people is overseen through the authorities.
We have also an Aboriginal education directorate. That straddles the
three departments that deal with education in Manitoba. Within the Manitoba
civil service, there are over 2,000 Aboriginal employees. I cannot tell you
for sure the breakdown between First Nation, Metis and Inuit within that,
but that has grown in the last 10 years. It has doubled in size in terms of
the Aboriginal employees. Quite a number of Manitoba positions are dedicated
to Aboriginal services.
Senator Sibbeston: You mentioned 175,000 in Manitoba. What is that
number? Is that Aboriginal people?
Ms. Brockington: Aboriginal people, yes.
Senator Sibbeston: And 71,000 of them are Metis?
Ms. Brockington: Yes. 71,800 I believe is what the census
The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Brockington. I apologize — I hope we
gave you enough notice. I hope the problem initiated at your end, but I want
to thank you for your presentation and your response to the questions, which
were excellent. I hope you continue to do the good work that you are doing
with our Aboriginal peoples, which I am sure you will.
Senators, our next witness is well known to everybody in Canada. It is
the Manitoba Metis Federation represented by David Chartrand, President, and
David Boisvert, Policy Adviser.
As I said to you earlier, President Chartrand, as a Metis person that
grew up here in Manitoba, years ago we would have never worn these vests. As
a matter of fact, I can recall that it was not the healthiest thing to be a
Metis years back in this province, but things have progressed. We are
honoured to have you here.
I am sure there are going to be a lot of questions, so I will ask you to
make your presentation and we will get the questions sooner rather than
later. Thank you, gentlemen, for being here.
David Chartrand, President, Manitoba Metis Federation: Thank you,
Senator St. Germain. I usually am not the type to read speeches, but I am
going to read this one for the record because of the complexity of the
First I want to take the opportunity to commend the Senate for what has
been over a century in waiting. I guess the question to be posed in this
country is to start looking at the Metis. It is the new millennium, and we
are very proud that we are finally coming to the table to look at and to
examine, in a sense, what is happening with our people.
I am going to start off by just reading as quickly as I can, and I shared
a copy with everybody. I do apologize. I do not have this translated into
French. I do not have French services at the federation so I will try, if
needed after, to translate it for you.
I want to commend the Senate for taking the initiative to study the
issues respecting the legal and political recognition of Metis identity in
Canada. In the course of my remarks, I will try to address the question of
Metis identity, the exercise of Metis Aboriginal rights, and the eligibility
of Metis for existing federal programs and services.
First, let me welcome you to Manitoba. This is where the Metis nation was
born. I know that you are wrestling with the meaning of "Metis.'' Well, you
do not have to go very far in this province to find evidence of a Metis
people. In fact, the Metis, under the leadership of Louis Riel, brought
Manitoba into Confederation in 1870. At that time 82 per cent of the
population of this province was Metis.
There can be no doubt that these Metis had a distinct national identity,
separate from Indian peoples and Europeans. They lived together, organized
community buffalo hunts, took collective action to defend their rights. I am
not here to give you a history lesson. But certainly from the Battle of
Seven Oaks in 1816, the Sayer trial of 1849, the Manitoba Resistance of
1869-70 to the Battle of Batoche in 1885, the Metis show themselves to be a
proud, free and independent people.
A Metis nation existed in Manitoba and throughout the Prairies well
before Canada took over this land. It is the descendants of this Metis
nation that I represent today.
Much has transpired since Canada took over the West in 1869. Relations
between the Metis and Canada have not been good. Metis have gone through a
"Dark Age'' through most of this period. It is terrible to read today what
happened to our ancestors when the soldiers came. Our people were
persecuted, their homes burnt, and many were forced to flee from Red River.
The stigma of what governments and history books for many generations
referred to as the "rebellions'' led many to try to hide their Metis
identity and Metis ancestry. You should note that Riel's actions in Manitoba
and Batoche were not rebellions but are vindicated today as legitimate
resistance to provocative and irresponsible actions from Ottawa.
As a result, some Metis moved north to the edge of the boreal forest,
away from settlers; others fled Red River and established communities in
areas of the province that immigrants from Ontario considered scrub lands.
Yet in 1938, which is not long ago, one of these communities, Ste.
Madeleine, was wiped off the map to create pasture land for white farmers
under the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act, or PFRA.
Today I still go to this place and there are grave yards still active and
people are still buried there today.
Metis were not compensated. Instead, their houses were burnt, their dogs
were shot and their church was dismantled for a piggery. This all occurred
within living memory of our parents and grandparents. Throughout the Western
prairies, Metis were regarded as squatters, forced off the land and made to
wander from place to place, often trying to find work for white farmers.
Many Metis ended up living on road allowances.
Today, people point to the rapid increase in Metis census counts since
1996. In Manitoba, Metis identity counts increased from 45,365 in 1996 to
71,805 in 2006 — a 58 per cent increase. However, if you were to go further
back, you would find that Metis population counts decreased census after
census from 1870 to 1941. There were apparently fewer Metis in Manitoba in
1941 than there had been in 1870. This testifies to the impact of the
impoverishment and stigmatization of our people for so much of our history
under Canadian rule.
The one thing that Canada did in the northwest that it did not do
anywhere else is recognize that Metis had Aboriginal title. This was done in
section 31 of the Manitoba Act and Dominion Lands Act. However, having
recognized that Metis had an Aboriginal title to the lands of the northwest,
the Canadian government improvised an ingenious way to remove this
encumbrance: Metis scrip. I understand that there are over 40,000 scrip
affidavits in the government's archives — the result of some 21 scrip
commissions between 1885 and the early 1920s. Aboriginal title is a
collective title, and we reject the notion that it could be eliminated
through individual certificates or payments. But this is the position that
the Government of Canada took: Scrip extinguished our Aboriginal title and
We became the "forgotten people.'' We had no rights. We had no one to
defend us. We were expected to assimilate and to disappear as a people.
The Manitoba Metis Federation came into being in 1967. It testifies to
the fact that Metis have not disappeared. In fact Metis are more active and
vibrant in Manitoba today than at any time since Manitoba became a province.
There has been a reawakening of Metis identity over the past 15 to 20 years.
This is seen in census counts. According to the 2006 Census, the latest
census for which figures are available, Metis now constitute 6.3 per cent of
Manitoba's population and over 40 per cent of all Aboriginal people in the
province. In my view, even these counts are low. If everyone who could trace
their ancestry to the historic Metis nation of the old Northwest were to
identify, I firmly believe that there are well over 100,000 Metis people in
The MMF is the government of the Metis nation in Manitoba. It is true
that the MMF is incorporated as a non- profit corporation. No other legal
instrument was available to us and we were forced to do so by governments
because otherwise they would not provide us with any funding. However, just
as First Nations have their governments, and Inuit have their governments,
Metis too are entitled to have their governments. In Manitoba I have been
president for over 15 years and I have made the utmost effort to have senior
governments recognize the MMF as the legitimate government of the Metis
nation in this province.
This has been a long process. Initially, the MMF, as with many other
Metis organizations, represented any person of Indian ancestry who was not a
status Indian. However, from 1982 onwards, our membership definition was
progressively changed to reflect the fact that the MMF represents a distinct
Metis people — the descendants of the historic Metis nation. The MMF was a
founding member of the Métis National Council at the national level, which
won the right to represent the Metis nation in constitutional discussions in
1984 and subsequent years. The introduction of Bill C-31 in 1985 and more
recently Bill C-3 have served to clarify the identity of Aboriginal people
living off-reserve. There is no doubt that some former members of the MMF
now have registered Indian status. At the same time, this has served to
reinforce the MMF'S vocation as the government of a distinct Metis nation.
Our board is democratically elected and accountable to the Metis people
in Manitoba. I call it a cabinet in my government. As with all MNC governing
members, the MMF holds province-wide, ballot-box elections to elect its
board. Elections are held every four years and all members in good standing
18 years and over have a right to vote. The MMF has a 23-member board. The
office of president is elected by voters across the province; each of the
seven MMF regions elects a vice-president and two other board members, and
the spokesperson of the Metis women of Manitoba, elected at an assembly of
Metis women, also sits on the board.
We have over 52,000 members 18 and over on our voters' list. This voters'
list is put together by the chief electoral officer at each election. In the
past, each MMF region was responsible for issuing membership cards, and this
voters' list therefore reflects the number of cardholders that obtained
membership cards in this way over the years. As I will describe shortly, we
now have a new, more centralized membership system based on providing
objectively verifiable proof of Metis ancestry. This new membership system
will entirely replace the current voters' list on September 1, 2014. One of
our most pressing challenges today is to have our current members transfer
to the new system by completing their genealogy.
The MMF provides a range of services to Manitoba's Metis population —
labour market programming, child and family services, justice, health and
several other programs. In total, including all our affiliates, the MMF
administers a budget of over $80 million a year. You should note that you do
not have to be a member of the MMF to receive our services. Most MMF
programs and services are available to anyone who self-identifies as Metis.
However, my central concern as president of the MMF is to defend the
rights of my people, and it is to this question that I now want to turn —
We have a chance now to try to rectify the poor relations that have
historically existed between Canada and the Metis nation. The process
started in 1982 when Metis were expressly included in the listing of the
Aboriginal peoples of Canada in section 35. We still face many headwinds,
Governments continue to want to believe that we have no Aboriginal
rights, and they are very slow in recognizing our rights even when the
courts uphold them.
We are forced time and time again to resort to costly court actions to
defend our rights, with no help from governments.
The federal government and the province have done nothing to ensure that
Metis are included in the Crown's duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal
people when approving major resource projects.
Let me elaborate briefly on each of these points.
I am sure you are all aware of the Supreme Court's decision in Powley.
This landmark decision established that Metis are a rights-bearing people.
It was delivered on September 19, 2003. From April 1982 to September 2003,
Metis were in the Constitution and our Aboriginal rights were supposed to be
protected by section 35. Yet, what were governments, including the
Government of Canada, saying? They said that we had no rights at all. It
took the Supreme Court to set them straight.
After Powley, you would think that governments would see the light
and recognize that Metis had Aboriginal rights, but you would be wrong. Here
in Manitoba, the provincial government adopted a position that would have
denied harvesting rights to virtually all our people. The MMF had to lead a
fight in the courts to establish the scope of Metis hunting and fishing
rights. The January 2009 case of Goodon — which cost me half a
million dollars — overturned the province's position that would have limited
harvesting rights to a very few communities — dots on a map — in this
province. Since that time, we have been in negotiations with the Province of
Manitoba on harvesting rights issues and I believe we are close to a
breakthrough. But some nine years after Powley, we are still fighting
to have our harvesting rights recognized.
It is important to understand the policies that the MMF put into place as
a result of the Powley decision. The Powley case basically
accepted the Metis definition that had been adopted by the Métis National
Council in 2002.
The MNC Metis definition sets out four criteria: One must self-identify
as Metis; one must be a descendant of the historic Metis nation; one must be
accepted by the community; and one cannot be a member of another Aboriginal
people. This definition was incorporated into the MMF constitution in 2003
and is the definition that we now use for membership purposes in giving out
For following the Powley decision, the MMF began issuing harvester
cards. They are issued only to persons who meet the tests for the exercise
of harvesting rights set out in Powley. Since 2004, all Metis who
wish to exercise harvesting rights must apply for a harvester card. They are
required to submit a genealogy that proves their ancestry to the historic
Metis nation. That genealogy must be supported with objectively verifiable
documentation, such as birth certificates and baptismal records that link
the applicant through the generations to an historic Metis ancestor.
Generally speaking, an historic Metis ancestor is a person listed in a
Manitoba land grant, scrip affidavit or described as half-breed or Metis in
the 1901 Census. The MMF has an agreement with the St. Boniface historical
society, which houses extensive church archives, to produce professional
genealogies on behalf of applicants.
All our harvesters must submit to the "laws of the hunt.'' We regulate
our own hunting activities, just as our ancestors did. This is a practical
exercise of our right to self-government. A $25 annual fee is levied on
harvester cardholders, the proceeds of which are placed in a conservation
To date, the MMF has issued 4,388 harvester cards. Since October 2009, we
have applied the same Metis definition criteria to anyone who wants to
become a member of the MMF. That is, a person must identify as Metis and
provide a genealogy establishing descent from the historic Metis nation. The
MMF registrar has an arrangement with the Indian registry whereby all
applications are checked to ensure that persons are not already registered
under the Indian Act.
Currently, we have over 9,500 members with new membership cards, and by
September 1, 2014, the MMF constitution stipulates that all voting members
will have had to submit a genealogy confirming their descent from the
historic Metis nation. As matters currently stand, about 65 per cent of new
membership cardholders are new members — persons who were never previously
members of the MMF. As mentioned previously, one of our major challenges is
to encourage existing members to apply for new membership cards.
We are seeing that a lot of people who are coming forward are brand new
and have never declared themselves Metis before.
The MMF is at present looking at ways to streamline its membership
application process, without jeopardizing its commitment to the Powley
rules. This is important not only to assist existing members to obtain new
membership cards, but because of the surge in demand for membership that
will likely result from the Manitoba land claims decision, which I will
discuss in a moment. We are also looking at ways to provide Metis
identification cards or citizenship cards not only to Metis resident in
Manitoba but to any Metis person with roots in this province.
This is your, Senator St. Germain. Right now, there is no way for a Metis
person who lives outside of Canada or outside the Metis homeland to obtain
proof of his or her Metis identity. We want to overcome that problem.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of our Metis registries moving
forward. The MMF's central registry office is responsible for verifying and
issuing both harvester and membership cards; maintaining these databases;
and dealing with annual stickers, tags and periodic membership renewals.
There are significant costs involved with this effort. Our registry must be
provided with adequate and sustained funding to be able to do the job —
which is not the case at the present time.
It seems to me that it is very much in the interests of the Government of
Canada to support our Metis registries. Any investor — and we are here
dealing with public investments — should want to know precisely the people
and the market he or she is investing in. One day, the Government of Canada
may have to provide services to Metis, and, when that day comes, would it
not be better for it to be able to identify the Metis population? Today, it
has ways of identifying First Nation and Inuit populations for which it is
responsible. Metis registries are the vehicle for it to do the same for
Metis moving forward.
This same statement I make here is the position I am taking with the
Province of Manitoba, that they too should have an interest, that they do
not give us any resources regarding this issue.
Let me turn now to our court actions. The MMF will of course defend any
of our harvesters who are charged by provincial conservation officers, but
Metis rights in this province go well beyond harvesting rights.
In our view, the Manitoba Act was a deal struck between the Government of
Canada and the Metis people of this province in 1870. The Manitoba Act
promised to guarantee our rights to the land Metis occupied at the time —
the river lots — and to set aside 1.4 million acres of land for Metis
children. Where are these Metis lands today? How did the Metis get
dispossessed of their lands in this province? Does the federal government
not have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the terms of the Manitoba
Act are respected?
The MMF has been in the courts for close to 30 years on this matter. Last
December, the case was finally heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. The
Manitoba land claims case promises to be one of the most important judicial
decisions affecting Metis in Canada's history.
The Metis were here before Canada even existed, let alone before Canada's
takeover of the Northwest. We are an Aboriginal people. We did not simply
roll over when Canada took over the West; we resisted and forced Canada to
negotiate our entry into Confederation. And that deal included land, just as
surely as any Indian treaty did, and that should be protected by section 35.
This case has cost us a great deal of money over the years. In my time as
president, the MMF has spent some $4 million moving this case through the
court system. Unlike First Nations, which benefit from a federal fund to
finance legal challenges, the MMF has had next to no help from governments
with these costs. Instead, they have resisted us every step of the way. Let
us hope that they will respect the Supreme Court's decision, as we certainly
will, instead of putting further obstacles in the way of justice for the
Metis people. Let us hope also that the Government of Canada will treat us
fairly and help us with legal costs of this constitutional challenge. Above
all, we want governments to act expeditiously to fulfill their obligations
to the Metis people once the Supreme Court hands down its decision.
The duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal peoples in the approval of
major resource and industrial developments is another area where, though
clearly directed to do so by the courts, governments have been moving very
slowly to include Metis people.
There are a couple of issues here. First, industry is unlikely to want to
extend consultation and accommodation to Metis unless clearly directed to do
so by government. Yet government policy remains ambiguous on recognition of
Metis rights. Companies have no difficulty including Indian reserves in
their consultation process but often balk at having to extend consultations
to Metis. The Crown has the responsibility to make sure that all Aboriginal
people affected by a proposed development be covered under consultation and
We all know that this matter has been dealt with by the Supreme Court of
Canada, in that it must participate in making sure Aboriginal people are
Second, there is clearly a lack of understanding of how Metis differ in
their governance structures from First Nations. For First Nations, the Crown
and companies can deal with identifiable band and tribal governments within
the area of the proposed development. Metis do not have the same governance
structures, nor of course do we have separate land bases.
In Manitoba, it seems that the Crown, whether federal or provincial, and
project proponents have difficulty knowing whom they should be dealing with
when it comes to Metis. Well, the answer to that is quite simple: They have
to deal with the government of the Metis people, which in this province is
You should know that the MMF has a provincial, a regional and a local
structure. There are over 100 MMF locals throughout Manitoba, and those
locals generate from about 80 communities. Normally, there is no more than
one local per community and each local must have at least nine members.
A resolution was passed at our annual generally assembly — unanimously, I
would like to point out — a few years ago that prevents any local from
entering into separate deals with particular companies on the duty to
consult. Also, just to reflect, at our annual assembly, we have about 3,000
delegates show up, making it the biggest assembly in Canada.
I do apologize for this lengthy writing but I want this to be part of
Individual locals do not have the resources or expertise to deal with
large companies or governments. MMF home office has a greater capacity to
negotiate with officials, hire lawyers and other experts, and to strike a
better deal for Metis. We have made it quite clear to all that the duty to
consult should be exercised through the Manitoba Metis Federation. This is
again, as I said, unanimously adopted by every community in the province.
This has not prevented the province from trying to circumvent dealing
with the MMF. It has tried to use northern community councils, which is
mayor and councils — local authorities the province has set up to administer
municipal responsibilities up north — to represent Metis in development
negotiations. This is clearly a non-starter. These community councils have
no jurisdiction to surrender Metis lands or Metis rights.
Just for your information, it is called the Northern Affairs Act. If you
want a copy of that, I will share it with you. The Northern Affairs Act
itself clearly distinguishes what the role and responsibility of a mayor and
council is. It oversees the roads, the taxes, water. Yet, that is who they
are telling the proponents to negotiate with.
Once again, the MMF has had repeatedly to threaten legal action to be
included in the negotiations under the duty to consult. There should be a
better way of doing things.
It was in this spirit that I entered into discussions with the premier a
few years ago. You heard Eleanor Brockington speak about the Metis policy.
Well, regarding the Metis policy, actually when we negotiated, I pushed the
Province of Manitoba very vigorously on this because when you look at all
governments, including federal — and you are fully aware of this, senators —
without policy, it will not guide the deputy minister or the departments to
develop an action plan. I pushed my premier very vigorously that we wanted
to make sure when you look at a First Nation policy, because we did not have
a Metis policy, so decisions are being made where monies are going to be
spent or programs or anything of that nature. Nothing was going to the
Metis. We were getting crumbs that fell off the table. We have now come
close with new Premier Selinger to the finalization. We have got it
announced, adopted, but it has not been implemented. We have got that to be
resolved. That is very fundamental and I am hoping that one day Canada will
do the same. We do not have a Metis policy under the federal government.
The reluctance of governments to recognize Metis rights is not the only
obstacle placed in our way. Other obstacles to the exercise of our
harvesting rights have emerged. Having spent so much money and energy just
fighting to have our Aboriginal rights recognized, it has come as something
of a surprise to see that some of our brothers among the First Nations are
opposing our exercising those rights.
It is one of the speeches I have made openly in this province. Throughout
my political career, I never ever thought that the First Nations would be my
challenge. I am told now that our First Nations chiefs are opposing my Metis
rights as a people and they do not believe that we have the right to harvest
in this province or equal to their rights. I do not know who they are. They
do not come out publicly, but they lobby the Government of Manitoba. It is a
very difficult challenge for us because that is our closest relative, as we
call it. There seems to be an opposition, and I do not know who they are.
I must make it absolutely clear that the MMF will defend the rights of
our people no matter what.
I want to skim through a lot of this stuff now because I want to go more
into the questions. It is very clear that for the federal programs that we
have right now, we are at a point in time where we look at funding. You
asked some specific questions on economic development. You heard Ms.
Brockington speak. We do have a $10-million fund we negotiate with Canada.
We have a federal fund under the MEDF. That is another $4 million for
Canada. So we have in total $14 million in economic development funds that
we are administering. We also have a capital corporation we administer that
has a fund of $8 million. That fund was under Aboriginal Business Canada and
is now under the full authority of the MMF. So these three entities are now
working together to create the economic engine for the Metis people in
However, it is just new; it takes time to get there. We are far away from
getting the $10 million resolved. Like I said, it is only $2 million a year
for the next five years. We have some ways to go yet.
The other parts I think that are essential to recognize I guess are the
process of not knowing. I understand that very clearly from discussions from
before we even started the meeting; that distinct base is going to be an
I hear the word Aboriginal on this table a lot. I hear it from Canada and
I hear it from provincial governments. In fact, that is one of our biggest
anchors. The word Aboriginal is damaging to the Metis people because Canada
will announce an Aboriginal program. When you look at the fine line, like
any legal contract, you look at the bottom line, it is not meant for us.
However, Canadians think we are getting all this funding, all these health
programs and all these education resources. Still to this day under this new
millennium, people believe that our education is paid for. Our education is
paid by no one. We are on our own.
You heard the Access program I think that Ms. Brockington referred to
that the province has initiated. Again it is only a very small proponent
versus the population of Metis people that are trying to get post-secondary
education. When you talk about those types of issues, it is essential to
recognize that Metis people are struggling very vigorously.
The programs that Ms. Brockington referenced like the Louis Riel
Institute, it has a fund from the province for $125,000. We matched that
fund with federal funds. Its function is to try to find an ability, whether
to develop curriculum or actually deliver curriculum, and they are doing
some of that. However, they are a long way from actually making a major
impact in the field of education. We have got that.
One of the programs I want to reference here is called the ASETS Program
in Canada. If there is any model that I would recommend to the Senate to
move forward on, it is that program. That ASETS Program by Canada is one of
the best programs I have ever seen throughout my entire career in Aboriginal
politics. That program is distinct based and is broken down to a portion of
how many shares are given to all three different Aboriginal peoples in
Canada. From there, we deliver services. There is all the ability for
measurables, direct impact to partner with the private sector. In fact, the
MMF has been known in the last 10 years to be number one in Canada. We are
ranked the top in Canada for the last 10 years, so we provide the most jobs
and the most training when you do a measurable base per capita of resources
I am very proud of that program. It has changed thousands of people's
lives. I am going to go off the topic of my speech now.
It has given us the tool to actually create an endowment fund which is in
my report here. The endowment fund you see referenced here is $10 million.
It is close to $14 million right now. That fund that we were able to
establish is the University of Manitoba. I met with every president, and I
challenged them that there are no funds for post-secondary education for our
children. Yet you want them in your schools. If you want them in your
universities, you help us get there. They were willing to give me a quarter
for every dollar I raised and I fought them until they said yes, they will
give me dollar for dollar if I could raise it.
I then fought with Canada under the ASETS Program. I said to Canada, if I
can meet my targets, meet all my jobs as required and my training
requirements, 400 employed and 1,600 trained, if I can meet all those
targets, any surplus money I have here can be used for post-secondary
education. They said yes to me knowing I would never do it. We met our
targets, we met all our training. From that day on, we have been able to set
aside half a million dollars in our ASETS Program, which the universities
match dollar for dollar. Since that time, we have raised over $14 million.
We are earning about 5 to 6 per cent interest on that money, and the
principle of course is never touched. We are giving out at least $500,000 to
$600,000 to our students right now. If there is any program I brag about or
am proud of, it is that particular program.
I want to do health and then I will open the floor. I gave you a copy of
the health study. The reason I think it is essential for the Senate to look
at it is because you look at the question you asked yourself regarding Metis
and examine the report on the legal and political recognition of Metis. Now
the health study that we did is irrefutable. It is actually the PHIN numbers
of our citizens. You cannot debate those. These are actual health numbers
that our citizens have and you can track every doctor appointment, every
prescription, every chronic illness that the Canadian citizen has. We did
about 70,000 of the PHIN numbers our people would use and it shows that
Metis have the worst health care of anybody in this province. We have the
highest diabetes. If you look at the measurables of those statistical
numbers, those numbers are Metis versus all Manitoba population. All
Manitoba population includes First Nations. You take out First Nations from
there, and we will sky rocket way beyond that number. If you think that
number is scary, take out the First Nations from the Manitoba population
because we could not separate them. If you take off the Manitoba population,
then our numbers will be even more damaging and scary. We die earlier than
anybody else. We have the highest chronic illnesses, whether it is arthritis
or whatever. It is because Canada and Manitoba have denied the very
existence of Metis and who is responsible for the Metis people. I think that
is the best example of factual documentation and data that can prove if you
take the data and take it to economic development, take it to other fields,
you will see that the mirroring of that situation would not be far
different. We took four years in the study to do it. That was done by Dr.
Julia Bartholette in the province, and the federal government was involved.
When I wrote to the federal Minister of Health, she referred me to the
province. I go see the province, they say go see the Minister of Health. So
I am caught in a quandary. That is the same scenario; we have gone and asked
the question I think you are asking us today, to examine the legal and
political recognition. Even with that document, showing that is the state of
people in dire need, both governments are still sending us back and forth. I
make it public here openly as I state to them that I can be somewhere in the
middle of the bush, and they will find me to pay taxes. When it comes to
servicing my people, they cannot find me. There is something wrong with that
With that, senators, I will close off my comments. You can read the rest
at your own leisure. I do appreciate and I do commend the Senate again in my
closing remarks for taking the opportunity to actually take this file. I
hope it is the beginning of more to come. Senators, I think you need to
shake up the mindset, both the political and the citizens in this country,
to realize the state of the Metis people in Canada today.
The Chair: Thank you.
Colleagues, I am going to ask you to ask one question each, and we may
have to ask the president, if it is the decision of the committee, to
possibly come to Ottawa and clarify some of the stuff. I know what you are
trying to do, president; you want to get it on the record. This has been one
of the first opportunities. However, the questions our senators will have
are quite important too, as is our being able to establish a report that
will be recognized. We have had good results with reports.
Where did the word Metis come from? When I grew up here in Manitoba, we
were Michif. We had a language, and that language was in the community and I
believe it originated to a vast degree right in this area. It was what Grant
and later Riel really grabbed hold of and they established the Manitoba Act.
Why did we go to the word Metis and why are we not still Michif? It was a
Mr. D. Chartrand: What it is basically, if you look at this
historically, our nation originated in the early 1700s and based on our
paternal side leaving us and the maternal side keeping us and nobody wanted
us, non-Aboriginal and First Nation. As time evolved, our people started to
become their own identity. We created our own language, our own music, our
own sound, our own foods, our own style. People did not know what to call
us. They called us country-born at one time. They called us the flower
people. If you look, most of our bead work is flowers. If you look at us
historically, we are called the flower people. They may call us half-breeds,
mixed bloods. It was not till Riel really formulated, when they tried to
call us the English half-breeds, that the Michif side is the French side. In
Metis, the translation is "mixed blood'' in French. That is where really
that word stuck after, Metis meaning.
It has been a challenge for us to make sure that people do not just use
the word "Metis.'' I know in some parts of Canada, they believe the word
Metis is just anybody with mixed blood, because in translation in French,
that is what it means. But it truly is not that. It is something like you
are saying, Senator St. Germain, language Michif was created by our people
and studied by Denmark and other countries to this day. Japan just met with
me recently to talk about the Ainu people trying to understand and learn
from the Metis people in Canada. The issue for the Metis I think is that
where we are tightening our definition, making it more clear that the Metis
are Ontario West and United States and Northwest Territory bound because
that is our homeland. The word Metis originated in a sense that this is a
nation of our people.
Those other identifications, mixed blood and that, still resonate to hurt
us today, and we are watching that very carefully. The word "Metis'' will
stick with us forever now. It is not going to go away. It is something we
will protect. We believe it to be identifying who we are as a people; we are
a Metis nation. As I said, we came with a variety of names. The Cree Indian
used to call us "the people that owned themselves,'' and that is what the
First Nations used to call us.
When Louis Riel was able to bring the English half-breed and the French
half-breed at that time together, the word "Metis'' and "Michif'' came
together. It originated and stays there to this day. It is one of his great
achievements. So "Metis'' will continue to be something that we protect now
as identifying. Now we have got to close that gap and make it very clear who
Senator Dyck: First of all, I would like to say thank you for your
presentation. It was very thorough and I am glad that you put it into the
It is really hard to ask a simple question because you raised so many
very complex and important issues.
I will ask you about the northern communities mentioned by our previous
presenter. It sounded from what she had said is that the northern
communities are excluded. It sounded like in some of the provincial programs
they were not considered Metis. However, I gather from your presentation
that you consider those communities to be Metis communities. Could you
Mr. D. Chartrand: Yes. In fact, thank you for that question. You
heard me reference earlier that we have 132 locals I believe in total, and
out of that originate 80 communities. There are 62 I believe Northern
Affairs communities in Manitoba under the Northern Affairs Act, and that is
where you have mayor and council. Those communities were primarily dominated
as Metis communities.
A lot changed after Bill C-31 of course came, and people began to move
towards accessing the Bill C-31 treaty card. But they have no place to go,
so they still live in these communities. They still wanted to be Metis but
they took the card for health reasons or hunting reasons at the time before
hunting rights came into play here. But it is still predominantly strong
Metis communities. The culture is still Metis. When you go inside, it is
still Metis communities, although there is still a small non-Aboriginal
I read an interesting letter. I am going to send you a copy after — 1944,
Duck Bay, Manitoba, where the Government of Manitoba is referencing that
they called Duck Bay a half-breed community. This is 1944. I just read it a
week ago. They were referencing the issue that you have got to go through
the reserve to get to the half-breed community. However, the Ukrainians are
coming in and they are dominating the fishing industry, trying to take it
away from the Metis and the Metis are doing extremely well in fishing. The
Ukrainians are coming there and bringing alcohol and all these other things
inside the community. So the government is saying we have got to find a way
to stop them, and one of the ways of doing it is maybe preventing them from
going through the reserve. The only way to get to Duck Bay is through the
reserve. We are at the end of the road of that particular area.
It is quite interesting in 1944 that they were trying to figure out how
to protect that area from non-Aboriginal people taking away the industry
that we dominated, and we still dominate today commercial fisheries.
When you look at the communities today, we are strongly in existence, but
the challenge we face now is that the province, and I use this, and they
know my position in this province, is that they are misusing the Northern
Affairs communities as a guise to deal with Metis rights by duty to consult,
by saying go and negotiate with the mayor and council. Mayor and council do
not have that jurisdiction. It is like the city, Sam Katz going to negotiate
on behalf of the province here in the constitutional discussions. That would
Our community still exists, senator. What will transpire, which people
need to see, and I hope the Senate sends this message, is that Bill C-31,
the way it is designed, is that those First Nations, they will bury
themselves completely out. Those children, now going back to our definition,
will one day become Metis again. So yes to Bill C-31, but when they go
marrying themselves out of there, those children will still be able to find
their lineages back to their Metis community through our definition
established by the Supreme Court of Canada, and you are going to find an
upsurge again. You will see a Metis shrinking, but we are going to come back
up again in probably 20 years or 50 years. They are going to come in great
numbers. People need to recognize that and not ignore that. It is very
important that we see that.
Senator Sibbeston: Talking of names up in the Northwest
Territories among the Dene, we have the Cree language that means "wood that
is half burnt.''
Mr. D. Chartrand: [Editor's Note: Witness spoke in Cree.]
Yes, that is the Burntwood River in Manitoba.
Senator Sibbeston: I have always found it interesting because
Metis, certainly in the Northwest Territories, historically have been the
avant-garde. They are very successful and independent, and have done very
well. They have been the interpreters; they have been the river boat pilots.
If any jobs were available in the community they would get them because they
generally speak a number of languages and so forth. I see the essence of the
Metis as being very independent, proud and very successful.
You know the story about Peter Erasmus, the idea of a person who is very
able and roaming around the country and so forth. My uncles were like that.
In a sense, these people never wanted help from government. In part, I
always thought Metis are independent and they never looked to the government
for help; they are just their own person and they made their own way.
Historically, that has been the case with the Metis. I often wonder how
is it now that the Metis are in a sense seeking to become dependent, become
an Aboriginal person that has the same rights as Inuit and First Nations
people and so would derive and get all the programs that are available? I
often think it goes against a spirit and the essence of what Metis people
Mr. D. Chartrand: In fact, I thank you for that. It is a very good
question and good analysis because it is absolutely true. The Metis are a
very independent people and we are very entrepreneurial in our design. But
the challenge you face is I think Metis people are not asking for anything
that any Canadian has the right to receive. I believe in paying taxes and we
pay taxes by the hundreds of millions. We did a study recently on that. The
government disposes the resources that they are taking from us, and the
issue is to give it back and use it to run our country. What I am saying to
Canada is we only want our money back. We pay taxes and now you have to
invest back into us.
The other pieces that you talk about which is essential is this: The
Metis are never wanting to be and never will allow any government to win us
or control us, never. That is a position we take. Section 91.24 is only a
guide that directs, for example, the Department of Health. Their policy is
only Indian and Inuit. That is their policy, very clear. But as a Canadian
and as a Metis with Aboriginal rights, they are not willing to provide me
services; yet they take my taxes. So I am saying to them, you have got to
give me back some services.
From a distinct base, go back to the question of the communities. If you
look at our communities, we have no infrastructure. It is falling apart. Our
traditional economies are nearly wiped right out. Our commercial fishing is
almost on its last legs. Our forestry industry has been taken over by big
conglomerates, Louisiana Pacific or Tolco or these big industries that come
from the United States or from other parts of Canada. So our forest industry
is wiped out, our tourism is wiped completely out, our trapping is nearly
gone. These are some of our strong traditional economies that we maintained.
Now we look at our small communities. They are becoming welfare-based,
and that scares the hell out of me as a leader. My people find themselves in
a state where it becomes okay to be on welfare. You know, we all know what
happens with people on welfare; social acceptance is a downturn. The next
thing you know, your self-esteem is destroyed. You turn to alcohol because
you just give up on life. All these other social problems come with it. I
take the position that right now what Canada needs to do is continue to
strengthen the economic side of investment for the Metis. We will take care
of ourselves. You have just got to give us back the tools you took from me
without even consulting me. You build these dams and destroy my fishing
industry without consulting me. If you had talked to me and we had shared
the natural resources, I would not be in the state I am today.
I see ourselves in a very downward spiral right now and we need to put
the brakes on it and say whoa, stop now. If you do not want dependent
people, then give us the tools we need to maintain our independence. It is
something very important to us, it is part of our backbone, part of our
nature of who we are and who we became and we still want to maintain that.
In order to do that, if you are taking all my natural resources away from
me, all my economic tools, everything away from me, then tell me how I do
it. That is the problem.
As I said, we pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and yet we get
very small base returns. My money is going somewhere else. It is going to
help the farming industry, which I support, or the mining industry; or where
ever it is going, it is going somewhere else. My tax dollars are not coming
back to me.
Senator Raine: I really appreciate your being here today. I just
wanted to ask a couple of questions on your genealogy. We have been given a
copy from the Metis Culture and Heritage Resource Centre. I notice you have
two accepted genealogical institutions?
Mr. D. Chartrand: Yes.
The Chair: This is from the next witness. I just want to clarify
we have got a witness coming next on it.
Senator Raine: I just really wanted to ask on the membership in
the Manitoba Metis Federation. You will require the same genealogy for
Mr. D. Chartrand: In fact, just to answer the first one, the
question she raised is important. We did, as a government, select those two
entities as the legitimate entities that we would utilize for evidentiary
documentation. The reason we did that is to make it very clear that people
are not just going around and getting a genealogy from a back little shop
somewhere. We want to make sure all of the documentation that we have, the
cards that are issued by us are in fact are not issued right in our office
but issued by a security company. They have all these protections on it like
a Visa card. We want to make sure that in the future, our goal is that this
card will be further recognized everywhere, whether we are flying Air Canada
or we fly anywhere else. As identification, a status treaty card, I think
ours is more secure than a treaty card that the federal government issues
We have selected these two institutions to do this particular task for
us. We are in a midst of continuing to expand our services. We are
challenged with resources, as referenced in my document. We get a small
proportion of dollars from Canada to do this job. It is a very difficult
job. I have a lot of fear in the sense you still can register after 2014;
2014 is really the electoral list. The 52,000 people I referenced in my
report are actually the electoral list. I still represent and serve every
Metis citizen in this province. They have a right to vote for me. In fact,
my elections are harder than the premiers' of this country because I have
got to be elected from the north, south, east and west. I do not go to one
riding and get elected there and get in by a delegation later. We protect
this vigorously, that our people have the right to choose our leader. We are
the only ones in Canada to do that. There is no one else like us in Canada.
We checked the records, and there is no one else like us in our voting
That is why we do what we do and we are choosing very recognized
institutions, so this way in the future, it will take us further in
advancing our card and recognizing it.
The Chair: Colleagues, it is 10 o'clock and I know there is a huge
number of questions we can put to President Chartrand and his people. I am
going to make a suggestion so that we can stay on schedule. We have got two
more panels of witnesses. We possibly, as a committee, should consider
asking President Chartrand to travel to Ottawa, so that once we digest his
presentation and better understand what he has presented here this morning,
we will be able to come up with questions that he will be able to answer. I
think it will form a significant part of our report.
If it is the concurrence of the committee to proceed in this fashion, I
hope you understand that, Mr. President, we would love to ask you more
questions now but we want to make certain that we hear a lot of witnesses.
Mr. D. Chartrand: Yes.
The Chair: We would hope that you would consider coming to Ottawa
to possibly answer further questions that relate.
Mr. D. Chartrand: I would be very honoured to come again. Our
assembly is on Saturday. The premier is supposed to be at our assembly along
with the minister. You will probably by that time have a greater depth of
what is going to take place in Manitoba. It is going to be historic in its
context when it comes to the issue of harvesting. It is going to create
something that was originated in the 1800s by our people and where laws of
the Metis will prevail in this province. I think it is something that would
be fascinating for this committee to see. We worked very hard at it and I
will tell you why it received its end result. I think, senator, I would be
honoured to come to Ottawa.
The Chair: Thank you again.
We will now hear from the Metis Culture and Heritage Resource Centre,
whose spokesperson is Randall Ranville, Genealogist. And I would like to
start with you, Mr. Randall, if you are prepared to go. I would like you to
keep your presentations as tight as possible, because senators will have
questions of you, I am sure.
Randall Ranville, Genealogist, Metis Cultural and Heritage Resource
Centre Inc.: My name is Randy Ranville, and I have been six years hired
as a genealogist. I do the genealogy service out of the Metis Culture and
Heritage Resource Centre. It is not only a job, a task that involves
identifying each individual as having a Metis ancestry, but it is also a
historical trip. It has been a wonderful ride, because I do not only
identify folks to their Metis ancestry, I also learn a lot about the
history. I heard a question asked: Where did the word "Metis'' come from? It
was most done by Cuthbert Grant, who is the one who introduced the flag and
also the Michif language.
I heard David Chartrand talking about how you identify a Metis. In the
history, the Metis called themselves Michif, which is the same meaning as
Metis. The word comes from mestizo, which is Spanish, and it means
In my research — I brought some notes — the first two pages of my work is
requirements of individuals who have come to seek their Metis ancestry. At
this point I should explain some of the people who come in. I just talked
with one of my colleagues here who said, "Yes, I have to come down and have
my genealogy done for our family.'' Usually one genealogy is good for any
number of people in one family. You can have up to 10 or 12 immediate, like
parents and grandchildren and, of course, the children of the parents that
are Metis. They will use one genealogy book — they are all in a blue cover —
and they entail their names going to their father, of course, and
grandfather, great-grandfather, which is the first two pages that identify
that current history of each family and then on into the ancestry, and the
names that are involved that came down from our Manitoba history into who
the Metis that are walking around today.
The service I provide is that that is of the Manitoba definition of
Metis, because all the way to the East Coast and to B.C. there are slight
variances. Those who are of mixed blood, say in Quebec, for example, will
call themselves Metis, but the word itself, the Metis of the history,
"Michif,'' were actually those people where my identifying work goes to, and
that is the Metis community of the West and the areas that Mr. Chartrand
The second part of my work is those who are all over the globe. I have
done for Texas, for London, England. I have done our genealogy for someone
in Sweden, and for many, many in the U.S. who find us online on our website;
in there we have an application form to have their genealogies done.
My work is a big part history because I have to know what I am talking
about when it gets to who and where and all of the five Ws of each family
that comes in, each individual who comes in to identify their families. That
alone is very interesting because a lot of folks did not know they were
Metis. They find out at a funeral or a wedding that there are these folks
who do not look at all like themselves, and grandmother, greater-grandmother
and mom never talked about it. It is a stigma that we have carried.
That is slowly moving away. It is slowly — we have Louis Riel Day now and
everyone knows of Louis Riel, he is one of my heroes, with the acceptance I
could say of the Metis in the media, the newspapers. All the forms of media
are slowly changing to the way the schools should have taught us about who
the Metis were and who we are.
As part of the genealogy work, I do speaking engagements for government
agencies, Manitoba Housing, for example, several of the departments in our
province, MLAs, and also the libraries and many, many schools, down to the
little folks where I have to try to keep their attention and show them; I
take articles and show them who the Metis were.
The identifying of the Metis — I have here, I should speak a little on
page 3. There are the two agencies that you spoke of, and we do the very
same thing; it is quite parallel in the work we do in identifying the Metis
through genealogy work.
This has become a must with all of the Metis, as Mr. Chartrand said, and
we are expanding, but right now we have the two agencies working. I am
hoping that I will be a part of the larger effort in finding and identifying
the Metis. Regarding our data base, mine is a little over 50,000 names, and
we have an extra 1.7 million names that are non-Metis but linked to the
folks of the Metis and First Nation, Aboriginal, whichever word you want to
use, Indian people, for example, which would qualify them as being Metis
being part of the Aboriginal community.
I have here on page 4 actually a record that is like many, many that come
in and apply; I will go back to this example. Michel Monet is down there,
that is, in-laws of Louis Riel, just so you know. This family and this
individual was born October 25 of 1822. When the Land Commission was here,
they first took a census of the Metis in Western Canada, and they followed
along until about 1920; the Land Commission from Ottawa sat down and
identified the Metis. Prior to that they had a census done. Most of their
work was around these, and what we are looking at here is an affidavit of a
file that could be this thick on letters back and forth, all kinds of
correspondence to do with identifying that Metis person.
We are very fortunate as Metis walking around today that these kinds of
things happened where this kind of documentation shows, for example,
Josephte, an Indian woman, and Michel Belhumeur, a half-breed, who are the
parents identified to Michel at the top of the page. There are hundreds and
hundreds of these very types that we use to identify the Metis walking
around today to those that go back to these historical families. This is one
example of many.
The next two pages are the Hudson's Bay Company employee records. We use
these as one of the other primary sources. In this case the fellow is John
McKay, and it shows that his wife was Mary Favell, and she was a Metis, and
going back to Dr. John Favell and Titameg, his Indian wife. Being his Indian
wife, there were no treaties at this time and therefore the mix of McKay and
this family going back to Favell would identify the rest of the family as
being Metis — five sons, three daughters, and they are all identified. And
of course these all had families, usually large families, and it comes right
back up until today.
The second is just to show you a little bit about what I learned in the
history. You will see down in 1811 Henry Hallet, he was a Metis because his
father married an Indian lady, but he was dismissed from the Hudson's Bay
Company for his atrocious, cowardly murder of an Indian. That is a simple
little fact, and we have so many of them of the life back then, and how he
could actually be dismissed but work at the other North West Company, their
rivals, for 10 years and then go back to the Hudson's Bay Company. That was
his punishment for that one line, his cowardly murder of an Indian.
It tells you that back then it is a really good thing that the documents
that we can use to verify the Metis today and even those you would never
suspect were Metis will have roots like these, if you go back into the
history. Some of the people are just beside themselves; they are just amazed
at their colourful ancestry. Some of them actually get emotional and tears
roll down their face because they are part of this community, this history,
and this phenomenal existence of those who were caught in the middle, and
actually were in her family, or his family came from the Metis and did not
know that. Some were never told, as I say.
I know of another example, a fellow who only heard when he was 30 years
old how he was mistreated because of his Indian mother. She passed away and
then he was raised by an Icelandic mom and he always thought it was his
mother, until his cousins, when he was full grown and 30 years old, told
him, "You are our first cousin, your grandmother is really . . . " Then he
came to the resource centre to find out what these people were talking
about. I was very fortunate to be the person who told him, "This was your
mother, this was your grandmother and this is your ancestry,'' and he
floated out of the room. It is just amazing. It is such a rewarding job for
me to be on the front line and identify the Metis, especially those who are
only learning about it in the past short little while.
The third example of how we identify is the 1901 Census. I brought an
example along again to show that Wenceslas Desjardins married Caroline
Plante, and the Metis comes from Caroline. You will see in the second column
after the names, there is a little W and a little R. The folks that were
white are W, of course, and the people that were Aboriginal, I will use that
word, were red. So down below there I was doing a genealogy for a person who
is directly related to this couple, Wenceslas and Caroline, and the daughter
Philanese. You do not hear much of these names anymore, but they actually
existed. And a phenomenal thing happened, like maybe four or five
genealogies came back to me, and our head office could not completely make a
full understanding of where the applicant's name goes back to the Metis.
Well, this particular family, there is another family who have Wenceslas as
the father, Caroline as the mother, and Philanese as the daughter. There is
actually another household with these, very rare; this is the only Wenceslas
that I know besides the Christmas carol, where good King Wenceslas first
looked out. Anyway, this is the father of that family.
I want to go back to — what I have got left — the very first document
that I look at. This is today's; this is an example of mine. It has to be
the long birth certificate. We cannot have the little short one, the plastic
one, or the paper one that does not show the parents. Of course these are my
wonderful parents, Emile Ranville and Mary Spence, Scottish and French Cree.
These were my parents, and this identifies me to the Manitoba Vital
Statistics Department. Most of them have to go back there or go to the
church where a marriage, a death or a baptism took place, and that
identifies them in their current history that goes back to the ancestors.
Last, I brought a photo on the last page of my great, great,
great-grandfather, Joseph Renville. I too am going to Ottawa next month. I
am just absolutely tickled and I am so proud. I will be taking a medal for
Joseph Renville for his involvement in the war of 1812. They are recognizing
the Aboriginal people who helped the British with the American military, and
he was there. Interestingly enough, most of his life was spent in America,
but his dad was from Canada and he went back with a friend and the war broke
out. I am just so honoured to be there next month on the 25th at Rideau Hall
to take this medal. And being in the genealogy work, I could identify him
right from me, my father and my grandfather, great-grandfather, all the way
back, and I am still studying one of the François in my family because I
want to know more about him.
All of the individual Metis I identify using the genealogy work are also
amazed and come back to the library at the resource centre and come and
study more about who their families are. I have some days people staying all
day researching in the library, which I did myself when I first started, in
learning about each family and how we identify the Metis today to those
folks. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you.
Ms. Sanderson, do you have a presentation?
Eileen Sanderson, Kinship Care Worker, Metis Child, Family and
Community Services: I am going to speak about myself more as an
individual, but I do work at Metis Child and Family Services in the City of
The Chair: I would ask you to keep it as short as you can. Deliver
your message, please.
Ms. Sanderson: I am the youngest in a large family. I grew up in
the Province of Manitoba. I am a direct descendant of Louis Riel, and Jean
Baptiste Lagimodière is also in my ancestry.
In my growing up, Michif was our language. We grew up with the Michif
language. I also grew up with the Manitoba Metis Federation. I was 10 years
old at the start of the Metis Federation, and I remember my parents having
meetings in our home, and my aunts and uncles.
As you may or may not be aware, after the Riel Rebellions, a lot of
families fled the Red River area, people fled south, north, west. They call
it a dark period after the Riel Rebellions.
I would consider my family, and I guess anybody who knows the history of
the Metis, because of that dark period, Metis people really did not have a
place to live. Metis people squatted either on the edges of reserves, the
edges of small towns or became what you call "road allowance Metis.'' I do
believe that is the history of my people.
Three generations back my grandparents settled in a small, you might call
it a Metis — it is hard to identify what it is, but maybe a small Metis
settlement. It is not a town or anything, but I would call it a Metis
settlement, near some little lakes right in the centre of some little small
towns about 60 miles northwest of Winnipeg. There is a lake there called
North Hill Lake.
In our family we have a very strong Metis identity. As a child I remember
my grandparents and my extended family, my uncles, et cetera, always using
the term "Michif'' back then, but it then became Metis as the Manitoba Metis
Federation evolved, the start of it and as it evolved. In my growing up as
well, my father — well my parents I would say, we were very much raised in
traditional Metis lifestyle, with my father being a hunter, a trapper, a
fisherman, and very much agricultural, and my parents always had a big
garden, et cetera. That was a large part of our growing up.
I guess what I wanted to say as well, some of the things I worry about
now, Mr. Chartrand spoke a little bit about education and health. I worry
now a little bit about education for our young Metis people and I worry
about health. As Mr. Chartrand said, large numbers of our people have
diabetes, et cetera. I guess we need money allotted. We are a very
independent people, but at the same time I worry about health and education.
I am going to keep my presentation short. Like I said, I work at Metis
Child and Family, and part of Metis Child and Family's role is to keep our
children as much as possible within our families and extended families. That
would be the extent of my presentation.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Sanderson. I think it is
important that we hear from people who not only read and studied about the
Metis culture but who have actually lived it. Fortunately I can understand,
because I grew up in the same thing, a little settlement that was just west
of here called Petit Canada, which was Michif. I can remember my
grandfather's sisters both married McKays from St. Eustache. They were not
really from St. Eustache; they were from Fort Rouge, which is just outside
of the parish of St. Eustache.
Mr. Ranville, I appreciate your presentation, too. One thing that I am
going to ask you, I see Michel Monet du Belhumeur. In a lot of cases that
means, Michel Monet of Belhumeur. A lot of people dropped the "du.'' I knew
Monets that lived on Pigeon Lake, Manitoba, which is straight west of here,
and they were Monets; that is the way they spelled their name. The name St.
Germain, my name — we were actually Lemur de St. Germain in Quebec, and they
dropped the Lemur. In this case some became Monets and some became
Belhumeurs. In our case we dropped the Lemur and we kept St. Germain where
others maintained the name Lemur, they became Lemur in Quebec. Anyway, it is
Senator Sibbeston: I would like to ask Ms. Sanderson about her
work with the organization she is with. Maybe just tell us briefly the kind
of work you do and whether you feel that you are succeeding?
Ms. Sanderson: I am by occupation a social worker. I was able to
get my education through Winnipeg Education Centre. It is equivalent to the
University of Manitoba. It was developed to assist people who do not have
the economic means to go to university. I did not come from — how would you
say — a family that had the economic funds to put me through university. It
was an institution that was developed, and back then we did have the funding
through University of Manitoba and the three levels of government. But I
guess shortly after I graduated, which was in 1985, those funds were not, we
are not — anyway, the funding was not there, put it that way.
I have been a social worker for 25-plus years. I have been at Metis Child
and Family for the past three years in a program called Kinship Care, which
is very dear to my personal beliefs that our children stay within our
families and not be adopted outside of our communities. At Metis Child and
Family the mission vision is just what I talked about, that as much as
possible we have placed children within extended family, community, and I
guess the last would be in a foster care system. That is my role as a
kinship care worker, equivalent to — we fall under the alternative care
program. I work with extended families who take care of children and work
through the processing of home study, licensing, et cetera, advocacy,
support. It is a program that I continue to advocate that is very much a
part of Metis Child and Family, and I view it as being successful, and we
are continuing to work towards that.
Senator Sibbeston: Thank you.
Senator Raine: Thank you very much, both of you, for being here.
My question is for Mr. Ranville.
In your paper you say we only do genealogies for people who can trace
their roots back to the Red River Valley, Saskatchewan and Assiniboine
districts. Could you clarify that for me? I am not sure what that means.
Mr. Ranville: That is the homeland that Mr. Chartrand talked about
as being those that are, I do not know what word can be used, but initiated,
or made known that we were Metis and the Metis themselves refer to
themselves as Michif, which means the same thing, the French term for
mestizo in Spanish.
Regarding your comment about "dit,'' that in genealogy is another word
for "also known as.'' So in this case it was Monet, also known as Belhumeur,
and when you added to that, it explained that, yes, some of them were
Belhumeurs and some of them were Monets.
Yes, mainly the bulk of my work is those. I have no resources for Quebec,
Ontario, and those. The Prairie provinces pretty much so, and parts of
British Columbia you will find in my example of that would go back to the
Senator Raine: Because they came from here?
Mr. Ranville: Yes.
Senator Raine: The Assiniboine district, is that a district of
Mr. Ranville: That was the larger bulk of the settlement back
then. There were three. There were three of the major ones, and then there
were smaller ones scattered around where they eventually became reserves.
For example, a lot of the Metis lived in St. Peters, but also the Metis
lived on the edges of what is East Selkirk, Manitoba, today. Now all of
those First Nation people are living in Peguis. They were all marched there
on foot when the CPR bought that bulk of land at that place. So most of the
areas in Manitoba you will find Metis.
I did a family where there were five children born in different parts of
Western Canada and one in the United States in Montana, because the Metis
were such a nomadic folk that babies were born in the different parts of the
year when the buffalo hunt took place in the fall and in the spring. It is
interesting to watch, and to find and trace children who have been born to
the same family in five different parts of Western Canada.
Senator Raine: Do you have a map of the founding areas?
Mr. Ranville: Yes, very important, in our library we even have the
trails that are marked that the original Metis traveled. In some places
there are still deep ruts from the Red River carts.
Senator Raine: Have these maps been published in a book at all, or
are they just in your resources?
Mr. Ranville: They are in our website. I must say the late
Lorraine Freeman was a remarkable lady. In her 10 years at the resource
centre building it up, she traveled the whole country finding and
identifying resources, even those who were half-breed who called themselves
Metis but had no identifying documents to prove today that they were
actually Metis. One of the areas was along Lake Superior; another was in a
couple of communities in Ontario that were Metis. However, we have no
records today of the examples that I have given of identifying these folks.
Lorraine Freeman had gone out, met these people. They play the same Red
River jig and the same dancing. I wanted to tell you the dance came from
prairie chickens during the mating season. The First Nations people did that
very original part of the Red River jig, which was adapted by the Scottish
Metis, music with the violin, and it evolved into what today some people
call our national anthem; the Metis anthem is the Red River jig. All of
these little bits of history you learn from following and learning about the
families and identifying them.
Senator Raine: The families, for instance, that lived in Sault
Ste. Marie, where there is a Metis community there, you do not have the
genealogical records for those people, but they would maybe have them?
Mr. Ranville: They may have them. But we need to look, for
example, in the 1901 Census it states there red, and then you go down the
column — I forgot to mention — it says FB, SB, meaning Scotch breed, French
breed, English breed, EB, these little notes, and it was the only census
taken in Canada where we have this reference. It was almost like it was a
part of Louis Riel's prophecy when he said that in 100 years we will learn.
These documents help tremendously in identifying who we are, because all of
the names are in there, and a historian at the Manitoba Metis Federation, I
go to him, and also a renowned author in Winnipeg, Charles Thompson, he
calls himself Chuck, he is 78 years old, he has written books on the Metis.
When you combine all of these, to even documents that state Riel and his —
we may not have documentation for those names, but the fact that he was part
of Louis Riel's cabinet, we can follow by those names, this is the family
of. It is just amazing. Even my own I did not have, not even an inkling of
how much of the history in my own family and every family like that is very
similar in content.
Senator Raine: Was 1901 Census was that a Manitoba census or a
Mr. Ranville: Canada.
Senator Raine: For instance, that designation of white or red, FB,
SB, EB, would be all across Canada?
Mr. Ranville: I do not know if the other parts of Canada had put a
lot of effort into identifying folks. See, I do not get any records from
Ontario, for example, the Sault Ste. Marie area, and you are absolutely
right, there was mixed blood or Metis involved in that. But to find the
records to put into the genealogy once it is done for an individual is next
to impossible, because that one may say something, I have not run across it
yet, where the name is connected to the SB or the R for red, not from
Ontario as yet or B.C. But Manitoba and the Western provinces, oh, yes. Yes,
all of them are. It seemed to concentrate on that part of identifying by
colour and by racial origin.
Senator Raine: Thank you very much.
Senator Dyck: Thank you for the presentations. They were very
good. Actually I will tell a little joke first. When I was looking at this I
saw resources and genealogist, and I immediately thought Natural Resources
and geologist. I thought why are we hearing from a geologist? But in a sense
you are a like a geologist, but you are not drilling down into the ground —
you are drilling back into history.
Mr. Ranville: Yes.
Senator Dyck: I was trying to sort out the dates, and much of what
we are talking about today, really with regard to identity, is complicated
by the federal government's putting in legal definitions. In one of your
documents you were talking about, you had here listed wife Mary Favell. She
would have been Indian by the Indian registry, but the Indian registry had
not come up yet, right?
Mr. Ranville: No.
Senator Dyck: The Indian registry started in what date, the
Mr. Ranville: In that case when she married an English or Scott
named Favell, because Indians did not have surnames; they were identified by
the Cree, by the Ojibwa, by the Blackfoot. They did not have a surname until
baptism took place, and then we were able to identify those First Nations or
Indian people to the European by the baptism records, marriage records, and
even those records that say married according to the custom of the country,
which is really a marriage again without a clergy.
Senator Dyck: Yes. The Indian registry itself would not have been
until the Indian Act?
Mr. Ranville: That is right.
Senator Dyck: So 1876.
Mr. Ranville: Yes.
Senator Dyck: So anyone prior to that would not be considered
Indian by the legal definition?
Mr. Ranville: That is right, yes.
Senator Dyck: You also mentioned the English breed versus Scottish
breed. My understanding of the history is probably not very good, but my
understanding was the intermarriage between the English and Indian tribes,
many of those children would have been sort of absorbed into the English
culture and lived actually in the fort, whereas with the Scottish there was
more a creation of the — they integrated more with the communities and out
of that came probably maybe the majority of the Metis culture.
Mr. Ranville: And also the French, the Voyageurs, who came here
originally for the fur trade. Some were sent here to colonize, but the fur
trade was far too lucrative financially. They were here now, and it took
months to go back home, so they did not go back home, they learned about the
fur trade and got involved in it and made a fortune.
Senator Dyck: Were there some on the English side, were there some
that also became Metis?
Mr. Ranville: Oh, definitely, yes, and later Europe and Eastern
Europe. I have names now that I cannot pronounce and they are Metis because
they married into the Metis community.
Senator Dyck: After 1885 with the Riel situation, I do not know
what the proper term is to call it now, that is when you have the migration,
the leaving from the original Red River areas, and would that also include
parts of Saskatchewan and the Assiniboine?
Mr. Ranville: Yes.
Senator Dyck: That is where you get the migration out to the edges
of the reserves, the road allowance people and so on, and some of the Metis
settlements that you have mentioned.
Mr. Ranville: The small Metis communities around the First Nation
reserves came about from marriages. The bulk of them were marriages with
folks on the reserve. A lot were living in St. Peters, they found Metis
living there, but not under the treaties. So they got nothing, and watched
the Indian people getting their treaty every year and exercising their
Senator Dyck: It is interesting, because to me it is fascinating
as well because of the legal complications. Within my own genealogy, which I
have looked into just in the last few years, I have discovered that the
first medical Metis doctor in Manitoba was actually the son or the grandson
of my great, great, great, however many greats there are, grandfather, who
was a Scotsman, a McNabb. So within my family there are Metis and First
Mr. Ranville: It is possible because Metis that did marry into the
First Nations, they were treaty and, for example, the father could have been
Metis. I see that one day the abolishment of the Indian Act is going to
cause, like Mr. Chartrand mentioned, an influx of First Nations people or I
should say treaty people all with names like McNabb, Sutherland, all of
these names from the history, but who opted for treaty back in the history.
When the Indian Act is going to be abolished, you are going to have a lot of
these First Nation folks coming back to their Metis side of their family. I
say that because more and more today they are held back by this Indian Act,
and the Metis are growing. I see it growing in front of my eyes. I guess you
could call it services, for example, where Metis are identified finally in
some of the services Mr. Chartrand touched on. Identifying Metis is going to
become a little complex when they drop their treaty status, or it is taken
away, and they still know that a part of their family is Metis, and they
will adapt to that, most of them.
The Chair: I have one final question for Ms. Sanderson. Do you
Ms. Sanderson: I understand the language. If somebody is speaking
Michif around me, I understand it. But when I was growing up and we were
starting to go to school — actually my father knew the Ojibwa language. Let
me go a little further. My father knew the Ojibwa language but never taught
it to any of us because he thought it might be a detriment to us having to
go to an English school. Michif language was spoken around me all of the
time growing up. I do not speak it very well, but I understand it. If
somebody is speaking the Michif language in my surroundings, I understand
The Chair: Were you raised in Shoal Lake?
Ms. Sanderson: North Shoal Lake, yes, in Manitoba.
The Chair: All right. I thank both of you, and continue your good
work. Continue to maintain the pride.
Mr. Ranville: It is a beautiful job.
The Chair: You have a job to do.
Mr. Ranville: And they pay me.
The Chair: Thank you again, Mr. Ranville and Ms. Sanderson.
I have some work to do in regards to the Senate. From a procedure point
of view, later in this trip we will have some senators leaving and others
joining, and we do not want to be in a position where we are unable to carry
out our meeting because of travel delays. I would like to suggest that we
pass a motion to the effect that in the event of the unavoidable absence of
both the chairman and the deputy chair at any time during the meetings of
September 26, 28 and October 1, any other senator present may chair the
meeting. We should have that motion. Would somebody would move it? Senator
Sibbeston, and seconded by Senator Dyck.
Are we all in favour? Opposed, if any?
That is dealt with. Thank you. I appreciate it.
Colleagues, we will now go to our next witness. We will hear from Paul
Chartrand, a retired professor of law. I would like to remind you that we
have to maintain our schedule, as we have meetings in St. Laurent, Manitoba,
this afternoon. I would ask senators to keep their questions focused. Let us
try and stay on subject as much as possible, which relates to the terms of
With that, Professor Chartrand, are you ready?
Paul Chartrand, Retired Professor of Law, as an individual: Thank
you. I was invited by the committee to appear as an expert witness. I thank
the committee for that invitation, which I am happy to accept.
I am a Michif from St. Laurent, which is not too far from here. You will
be visiting there this afternoon.
It is an interesting place, obviously. I have been living there since
retirement. I wish you well in your visit.
I am not going to speak like the Michifs from St. Laurent because that
may pose a problem to the translators.
I will make my presentation in English. We grew up at home speaking an
archaic French, I suppose a fur trade French, the French component of which
is worked into many of the First Nation languages across the West and
northwest of Canada and North America.
I should begin by introducing my professional credentials so that you may
reflect on why you might put more or less weight on what I offer today. I
have been specializing in law and policy relating to indigenous peoples for
several decades; I retired in 2009. I have some 60 publications in various
subjects. Roughly 15 or 20 of them are specifically on Metis issues, and
that includes two books and a booklet on the national anthem that was
composed right here in the early 1800s, along with some music, by the way.
Among other books is Who Are Canada's Aboriginal Peoples, and that
book should be required reading for anyone interested in the subject of this
committee's mandate, which is to inquire into the recognition of an
indigenous people. I also have a book on section 31 of the Manitoba Act, the
Metis land case.
I am now living on lot number 2, which was my great-great-grandfather's
lot number 2. You may or may not know that there are river lots along Lake
Manitoba. It is the only place other than along the Red River and the
Assiniboine River where the river lot system was set up right in the home
Although I taught Metis history, I am not here to tell you much about
history. I would like to make five points. Because the time is very limited
and these are very complex issues, let me emphasize that first the task
before you is one of great complexity, sociological, but constitutional,
legal and political complexity, and it has some unique features that make it
particularly difficult, and so it should be with the grace of inspection
that you arrive at your conclusions and recommendations. I offer these
points with the greatest respect to all of those people who I am sure have
offered you advice of a different character.
My first point is this: It would be a great danger to rely on the Supreme
Court of Canada's articulation in the Powley case to guide yourself
as to what is the right thing to do for the recognition of the Metis people.
At a strictly legal level, you should note that the Powley case
affects the rights only of the two individuals before it. You will
understand that basic principle. I am sure you would not like to have your
right to have a passport or the right to the ownership of your home to be
decided in court when you are not there. The Metis people were not
represented in that case, so technically the only rights at issue were the
rights of those two individuals.
I will argue also that the way forward for the recognition of the Metis
people is not to have the primary task developed by unelected, appointed
civil judicial servants in the courts, but through the cooperative good
faith negotiations between political actors, between the representatives of
the Metis people and representatives of the government.
It is unusual, to say the least, for the courts to undertake their role
of political recognition of a distinct society. You only have to look at the
situation of Quebec to understand the function of the courts in relation to
the matters of political recognition. The process that should be undertaken
is to promote the recognition of Metis communities.
One of the difficulties in Powley, as well as with much of the
confusion about membership definitions in various organizations, is that
they focus on the individual. The issue here that you are charged with is to
deal with the practical recognition of a constitutionally recognized people.
The court has said that those rights are collective rights. Those are the
rights of communities; those are the rights of groups. I have no rights as a
Metis. No First Nation individual has any rights by virtue of his personal
antecedents. Therefore, it makes no sense to consider the personal
antecedents of individuals to determine the collective rights.
What you need to do is to look at the antecedents of the community
itself, so what you do is identify communities. I would be very surprised if
there were communities that were missed because the existence of
communities, political communities and distinct cultures and so on is
notorious. People do not just hide, or as the trial judge put it in the
Powley case, I think he said that they were there, but they were
invisible. You see the kind of judicial magic that has to be created in
order to — when you put the first foot wrong as to focus on the individual.
Do not focus on the individual. Find out where are the Metis communities.
When you do it that way, then you have put the first foot right and then you
can see who is supposed to be engaged in the process of identifying who are
the Metis persons. It is the community. Who belongs here? It is not the
judges to decide.
It is a unique and unacceptable situation now where some people have gone
and asked the courts, please tell us who we are. The courts have developed a
legal test, the Powley test, to determine who are the Metis people.
With the greatest respect, it makes no sense. This has to be done
politically. It is political action that gave rise to the birth of Manitoba;
it is by the political action of Riel and other very well known historical
figures that the Metis people were recognized and made our way into the
Constitution of Canada.
A lot of people say the Metis were first put in the Constitution in 1982;
well, you better check your history. That was first done in 1870 in the
Manitoba Act in section 31. So it is political action that has lead to the
historic recognition, and it is political action that should promote it
today. The process should be something like this: for the representatives of
Metis people and the federal government to get together and agree on the
identification of those communities. Then you negotiate what are those
We went through, and I went through, I was involved in national
conferences on Aboriginal constitutional reform where we tried to tackle all
of these issues, the rights of the people, Metis people and so on — a very
difficult process. I was also a member of the federal Royal Commission on
Aboriginal Peoples and we made recommendations on a lot of the issues that
face you, and I was also a commissioner advising the Government of Manitoba
on Aboriginal issues back about a dozen years ago.
There is a lot in those particular reports to assist interested senators
in trying to sort out how this should be done, but it is essential that you
have community recognition. I should say that the task before you is a part
of the broader project of making the constitutional recognition of section
35 of the 1982 act effective. You will need legislation, but first what you
need to do is to deal with the representatives of communities and do things
and agree on some notion of which are the communities, what are their
rights, and then what you do is you have a referendum with all of the people
— that is the way things are normally done — and see if people accept this.
You work it out. You do not look to the sky like manna from Heaven for
inspiration to fall down, and we do not go and ask the judges. You work it
out; you negotiate it. Once you have done that, you see if the people like
it; you have a referendum in your communities. If people like it, you enter
into these agreements and you pass legislation. There is no point passing
legislation on an unwilling government; an unwilling government trying to
act because of case law — that does not work very well. I do not have to
tell you the details; probably a lot of witnesses have told you that. The
best way is to work it out.
The royal commission recommended that ultimately recognition must be
approved by the federal cabinet, so the politicians have a big role to play
here. I know that some critics will say to me, well, they will say that is
nice, but the Metis people have very little political leverage to enter into
the serious negotiations here. My response to that is this: Here you can
have more sophisticated access to judicial assistance. The Quebec situation,
the Manitoba language rights reference case and other cases provide us with
arguments for the role of the courts in requiring the government parties to
come to the table to negotiate in good faith. I have developed some of these
arguments. They are published. So this is a way forward, in my respectful
The other point that is extremely important; recognition of the Metis
people should proceed in a process of recognition of all the section 35
Aboriginal peoples, Inuit, the Indian and the Metis peoples. Justice
requires that. The underlying principle is this: No one should be induced,
no one should be provided inducements by the government to prefer
identification as an Indian or a Metis, which is the case nowadays.
By the way, the Indian Act itself is unconstitutional in some respects
because it fails to observe the great principle of constitutional law in
this country in that people are free to associate with whomever they want.
We have taken out the opting out provision in 1985, which was a
constitutional misstep. It has to be done at the same time, and you will
find the numbers of Metis people dwindle probably because I know that a lot
of people really want some kind of official recognition. And some of them
would prefer to be recognized Indians. There is a history of that.
I think I have jumbled together the five points that my notes remind me
that I wanted to make. I am sorry I did not give you a little point form
list. I found out recently that you may accept written briefs, so I will see
if I am able to make the time to provide you with a written brief in due
course because, as I emphasized, these are matters of the greatest
complexity. I had to mention to your staff that in your website you say that
the Metis, for your purposes, Metis are Aboriginal people for the purpose of
section 35.2 and I said, well, that is not quite right. The Metis
recognition in subsection 2 is for the purposes of all of section 35, so the
purpose of recognizing the rights, so take out that subsection 2.
That simply illustrates the point that your task is a very difficult one,
and I am happy to help by questions or whatever; I am at your service. Thank
The Chair: Thank you, professor. I saw that point 2 as well, but
to be honest, I did not have your professional knowledge to assess why it is
there. I saw it when I was reading the briefing papers when I was flying in
here last night from Vancouver.
Senator Sibbeston: My question is simply this: Do you think that
despite the fact that the Powley case sets out criteria for Metis,
the approach that you suggest is still possible? Basically that the matter
of identification of Metis be settled by agreement between federal
government and Metis people. How restrictive do you think the Powley
case now is to accomplish what should be done?
Mr. P. Chartrand: The problem is that this is none of the court's
business in the first place. Putting it in plain ordinary language, in my
respectful opinion, just because something is found in the text of the
Constitution does not mean that the judges ought to decide everything about
it. In 1982, some fundamental changes were worked to our constitution.
Coming from a constitution more like that of Great Britain, we have moved
towards the American style of constitution.
The Chair: Prime Minister Trudeau just turned over in his grave.
Mr. P. Chartrand: I beg your pardon? My hearing is very poor.
The Chair: Prime Minister Trudeau just rolled over in his grave
when you said that.
Mr. P. Chartrand: Well, regardless, that is what has happened in
respect to — and the relevant issue here is the question of subject matter
jurisdiction or the justiciability of questions, of issues. In the United
States there is a political questions doctrine. The courts will refuse to
decide on particular issues, saying this is not our job, this is a job of
the executive government, that is a political question doctrine. We do not
have such a thing in this country, but because of the changes we have,
because of the new role of the courts, we have to develop something like
that. So my conclusion is that — what I am trying to say —
The Chair: If you want to use those headsets, they really work.
Mr. P. Chartrand: — what I am saying is that it should be outside
the role of the courts to decide those sorts of questions. It is for the
community, the political people to do it. It is a fundamental principle that
this has always been done by the executive. And ultimately it has to be done
by the executive. Consider how well a recognition system that requires the
government to take particular action would work if the executive is drawn
kicking and screaming unwillingly into the project. It is much better to
negotiate something sensible.
Senator Dyck: Mr. Chartrand, you were mentioning that we should
promote the recognition of Metis communities and start from there rather
than rely upon legal definitions. In your opinion, is there any sort of
recognition of what might be considered historic Metis communities? Do we
have a list, or how do we decide what are the Metis communities? Who should
make that distinction? And because there seems to be some confusion about
who the Metis are, how do we decide who the communities are?
Mr. P. Chartrand: My response is one I suggested in my initial
presentation. Matters as important as the existence of a distinct political
community are matters of notoriety. These are known facts. People can attest
to that because they have lived this life and neighbours know, everybody
knows; these are matters known by reputation. People know these things. With
respect, I think that lawyers have done a little bit of a disservice in the
country in overemphasizing the significance of law, and I think we see some
of the implications here, and I should say when I say that, I am a graduate
of law schools in both Australia and Canada.
However, as I mentioned earlier, you should do this at the same time as
you recognize the Indian people because there are a lot of people who feel
that they fall in limbo. They call themselves non-status Indians. These are
simply what are called unrecognized Indians in the United States. The
government just simply does not recognize them for all sorts of historical
reasons. You can read all of the gory details in my book, Canada's
Aboriginal Peoples, if you wish. But it has to be done altogether. I
would be very surprised, senator, if some people just came out of the blue
and said, oh, we are a Metis community, but nobody had ever heard about them
before. I think that is something that is in fact happening now with this
focus on individualisms. You should not pay attention to individuals in the
first step, you should pay attention to communities and do it all at the
same time so that people are free to identify as they wish.
Ultimately it is not the labels that count; it is the question of whether
the people are indeed Aboriginal people. In fact, it is wrong to believe
that there should be any substantive difference between any of the three
groups. In my respectful opinion, the lawyers and the courts got it wrong
when they went and developed different tests for proof of Metis rights. I
think the Constitution does not provide a mandate of that sort, and the same
tests should apply to everybody.
Senator Dyck: I am still a little confused about the legal test
put forward by Powley as to who a Metis person is versus the
definition that the Métis National Council uses. Are they the same or are
there differences? There is some similarity but there may be a difference.
Mr. P. Chartrand: The very short answer is I have a complete
analysis of that in Chapter 2 of a book published by Irwin Law in 2009, so
that way, as I said, these are challenging matters of great complexity. I
have analyzed them and they are published, so a complete answer to your
question is available in that chapter. Melanie Mallet and somebody else are
the editors of that, but I have a chapter that deals precisely with that
question. They are different, and I think it would be best to keep it short
to say that, you know, or I could assist you further, but here there is not
much time to go in some comprehensible detail into matters of such
complexity. I have tried to identify the main difficulty, and it is the
focus on the individual, that is the first wrong step. You have to deal with
the communities. And then the community decides who belongs. Think about it.
What are the deep human values that suggest that you should not pay much
attention to what the community thinks about when the people walk up,
because if you are dealing with Metis people you are going to deal with
plain ordinary people and you ask them things about legal tests and that,
what are they going to do with that? But if you go ask them who belongs
here, is he one of yours, does he belong to you? People understand that.
Senator Dyck: If you go to a Metis community and ask the people,
who are you asking? Are you asking a form of governance within that
particular community? Who are the people that would be able to —
Mr. P. Chartrand: There will be many people; I am sure there will
not be a shortage of people who will come forward and say we represent the
people. You can deal with them; you can deal with all of them. However,
before you adopt anything formally as a government, what you do is you have
a referendum. This is the way things are done in a democracy. It is useful
and effective to have initial negotiations and discussions with
representatives and to say here is a plan.
With respect to questions of governance, I am not going to decide for the
Metis people exactly what they want. Let the people decide to catalogue a
particular interest that they have that they would like to be recognized by
legislation and made effective by federal legislation and perhaps
complemented by provincial legislation as well, but it has to be negotiated.
The Chair: Could you clarify? You say the same tests should apply
to all three groups, and when you look at the Inuit, they are a distinct
unit by virtue of community, language and everything. But when you move into
the Metis and what is described as Indians, there is many an Indian that has
a name like Sutherland, Chartrand and various other names. How would the
same test apply? Can you briefly describe that?
Mr. P. Chartrand: Yes. In brief, therefore general, terms, the
great difficulty that has faced those interested in this question has been
the identification of a relevant date for proof of the existence of the
community, of the historic community. What Powley did is say that we
cannot use the same test we used with the Indian people because the Indian
people have been here since time only known to God. But Metis people
certainly did not exist at a particular time; they exist now. So what is the
beginning date? This is probably the key difficulty that the courts have had
trouble dealing with. So they switched — they had before that a date that I
think can be replaced by a better date. Realizing the more recent emergence
of the Metis people, the court developed a new test and therefore came upon
a new date.
The best British Imperial constitutional principles that apply here, as
well as the modern principles of Canadian constitutional law, point to a new
general test for all Aboriginal peoples that the Powley case comes
closer to than the others which is, roughly speaking, that Aboriginal people
is a people that existed as a distinct organized society at the time of
Crown, the government, assertion of effective control, political control.
That has to be specified just a little bit more, but this is unique, we have
not faced those situations before. There is judicial authority for the
proposition that that particular time would be the time when the Queen's
justice is available to all, so that is when you have an effective system of
adjudication of courts that you have set up in the territory.
I think that, Mr. Chair, is the nub of the issue — the distinction that
the court has made. Focus on some obiter dictum from the Van der
Peet decision, that was a mistake. What the court said in Van der
Peet should not have had the persuasive weight that it seemed to have
when it was picked up in Powley and other cases.
The Chair: Would 1763, the Royal Proclamation, be a significant
date in your mind?
Mr. P. Chartrand: Not particularly, no, because the question of
effective control has to focus on political control rather than on
declarations of sovereignty, which really mean nothing in practice. In 1763
you will know that assertions of power and authority of the Imperial
authorities had no practical consequence whatsoever with what we are dealing
with today. You have to decide that in the locations where the historic
people are making the claims, that it is a historic people, so it has to be
done more regionally. That, by the way, follows the general principles that
are emerging in the courts now in relation to Aboriginal rights generally.
It is complex. I say respectfully that it has caused difficulties. None
of the judges paid attention to this, the older ones, when they went to law
school, so there is very little by way of legal education to prepare the
lawyers and judges who have embarked on this task.
Again, my basic recommendation is do it politically and make sure
whatever you do is legitimized by community referenda, and that ultimately
what you have negotiated, that you know the people are happy with — it is a
just resolution of the issue — is finally legislated so that it has the
approval of Parliament and is made effective by the function of legislation.
Senator Raine: I truly appreciate your depth of knowledge on this
subject and feel very unknowledgeable myself, but I keep coming back to the
chicken and egg situation. When you talk about community, we have to be very
careful that we do not think of a specific little town or a village. You are
talking, I presume, about the community of Metis people in general. Then we
talk about not getting concerned about individual rights, but it seems to me
that membership in the community needs to be validated somehow. Because the
community, especially with the Metis people, it is not necessarily in one
particular location. There are people all over who are Metis people. Do you
think that using genealogy to determine who is a Metis is part of the step
of determining the collective group? I appreciate that you have to be — I
really appreciate your comment about who belongs here being a very big part
Mr. P. Chartrand: Thank you very much for your very interesting
question, senator. I do recognize you as a distinguished Canadian and, in
fact, if I may say so I believe I saw you at a golf tournament that my
daughter was participating in some years ago.
Senator Raine: I was not golfing.
Mr. P. Chartrand: You were an observer. This was a national title.
It is a very good question. Let me start with the last bit of your
inquiry, which is the genealogy. One of the problems with the question of
focusing on genealogy and looking at the personal antecedents of the
individual is that, remember, you look for individual rights of the personal
antecedents, an estate, inheritance, but you do not look at personal
antecedents for collective rights, you look at antecedents of the community.
It is not everybody in the community who needs to have personal antecedents
going back to make the ancestor. That is a fundamental flaw in the approach
of many people. And then it excludes people because of the genealogy. It
also smells; it has a taint of British racism. You will know that the idea
of Metis and mixed blood and so on are born of the racist ideas of racial
superiority of the British at the height of the work of the British Empire
in the 19th century.
These words, "half-breed,'' "Metis'' and so on, are words that are
appropriate for animal husbandry. They should never be used for people. I
know when I was a little boy those were fighting words if anybody called me
a half-breed. I am not half anything. I think I am a man and deserving of
respect. I am better than no man and no man is better than me, as the old
saying goes. That is the difficulty with genealogy — it is more like you are
trying to deal with the discussions at a Greyhound supper club or something
like that. This is not appropriate for people.
Human genealogy is very interesting. On computers people see that. That
is inherently, intrinsically interesting and, of course, people are drawn to
those kinds of things, but as I said, it will be notorious, a notorious
public fact, a matter of public reputation where you have many people in a
particular community who are Metis people.
The next point, and I will be very brief, the other aspect of your
question that I detected is this: What about the rights? The rights have to
be specific; this is what the courts have said. I could really bore you with
going on and on and comparing that to French Canadian rights, but I do not
have the time. However, in some places a Metis community will be a
land-based community; therefore, the kinds of rights that are at issue are
rights that have to do with the use of land. In other places it might be
some other particular kinds of interests that the people have. That is
another advantage of negotiations, to see what kind of arrangements you can
enter into that make sense in light of the actual sociological, economic and
political circumstances of the particular communities at issue.
The courts cannot deal with these sorts of things. The courts are not
competent to draft a whole scheme, a catalogue of rights like that. They can
do it over the next 150 years, but I remind you that you as senators, all of
Parliament, all of the judges, have a constitutional obligation to live by
the Constitution. Everything you do must be vetted against its
constitutionality. You are required, therefore, to embark on what you have
embarked upon today, which is to try to make the recognition of the Metis
people in section 35 effective.
Thank you. That was a very good question.
Senator Raine: Yet it has opened up more questions, because again,
you know, what is the Metis community? What is the collective? How do you
define that collective?
Mr. P. Chartrand: By historical and contemporary notoriety and
Senator Raine: We were privileged some months ago to have a visit
from representatives of the Sami people in Norway, and they have dealt with
the Sami, who are the Sami and what are their rights in a very similar way.
Sami people have very defined rights for hunting reindeer, herding reindeer
and in some fishing areas. But for the rest of the country their identity is
their pride in their heritage and culture and it is left at that.
Mr. P. Chartrand: Yes, I am fairly familiar with the situation of
the Sami through my work at the United Nations, and I have had the privilege
of advising the leader of the Sami parliament and the leader of the
opposition, and I have traveled through Sami over the years. I would not
recommend that the criteria that they use for recognition be adopted here.
They are interesting models to examine, but a Michif case must be a Michif
case; it cannot just borrow from other places. I certainly agree with you,
though, that looking around at the questions of recognition of indigenous
peoples in other countries provides very useful insights on how we ought to
approach these difficult questions here.
Senator Raine: Thank you very much.
The Chair: Does the Michif language help us establish who really
is a Michif?
Mr. Chartrand: Establish what — I am sorry; I am quite deaf.
The Chair: To establish more effectively who is Michif?
Mr. Chartrand: Ah yes, certainly.
When I said that you will be able to recognize people because of
historical and contemporary notoriety of reputation, that includes such
things as the language that you speak. If the language is an ancient
language, then absolutely, Mr. President, that would be one of the key
markers. The language that I grew up speaking is derived from fur trade
French. Robert Papen, a linguist from Saskatchewan at a university in
Quebec, called it a living linguistic museum when he got some tapes of the
language that I speak. I always enjoy speaking with people who have an
interest in these things because we have expressions that are lost or
unknown to you Canadians. And we have a smattering of Saulteaux words where
I come from, a little bit of Cree, but mostly that archaic French and a
distinct pronunciation, as you have probably noticed, and also the syntax is
I emphasize, senators, that there is not one Michif language; there are
many Michif languages. Some of our people speak Cree, some of our people
speak Saulteaux, some of our people speak French, some of our people speak
English, probably all of them. Also there is great variation between the
various dialects from one community to another. Some of the old books
written by anthropologists made some pretty significant mistakes in that
regard. They come here for a couple of weeks and they publish some matters
of great generality, but when they come back they start being a bit more
discerning in their observations, so even the linguists recognize that. It
is a very interesting issue.
I would like to speak about that some more, but unfortunately we do not
have too much time today.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Dyck and then Senator Greene Raine, you get supplementary
questions. Go ahead.
Senator Dyck: You mentioned that it might be a good idea to study
other countries. Senator Greene Raine mentioned the Sami. Is there a similar
or even slightly equivalent situation in any other country in the world?
Have there been intermarriages between colonial people with indigenous
people that have created a distinct culture that would have parallels to
what we see here in Canada?
Mr. P. Chartrand: That is an excellent question, and again my
answer will underline the point of the complexity or challenges of your
mandate. The only model that has been described by sociologists as somewhat
similar was the Basters. I think it is a Dutch-derived word in South Africa.
The first point to emphasize is that the fact that people have parents from
one culture or another should not be determinative of the identity of
people. Quite rightly, generally you will find almost nowhere much weight
being given to that fact. As you know, the Indian Act code itself has
permitted all kinds of white people to be status Indians today. You see in
newspapers and so on, they say I am full blood Indian, I have got a status
card, but they are people who have absolutely no DNA from indigenous people
anywhere on the planet who are status Indians.
Generally if you look at places where recognition is a fairly new thing —
Australia, for example, would probably be the best comparative example, and
also New Zealand — they are engaged in very similar processes. There are
significant differences but a lot of similarities. Generally people walk
away, particularly in New Zealand, do not talk to the Maori about this mixed
blood stuff. People all have their unique preferred ways of identifying and
going back to their origins and proclaiming their ancestry. That is all a
part of the identity of all peoples, but it must not be done on the basis of
I do not believe that there is all that much that we can learn to better
what we have in Canada. I said the Canadian situation is unique. The
constitutional situation is different, and that is one of the great dangers.
I know sometimes people come from the United States and they offer seminars
and whatever on First Nations administration. However, they get certain
things wrong because the Constitution is not the same. I urge you to
consider that what we do here must be a Canadian way of doing things, a way
that reflects the basic principles of our Constitution.
Senator Raine: When you say that negotiations should take place at
a political level, I agree with that. I would just ask you who would be
negotiating on behalf of the Metis people?
Mr. P. Chartrand: That is a matter for the political process to
Senator Raine: In your opinion, who do you think should do it?
Mr. P. Chartrand: I beg your pardon?
Senator Raine: With your experience, if you had the magic wand to
pick the group or person, who do you think should do it?
Mr. P. Chartrand: That would be the prerogative of cabinet, so I
would not take the cabinet's wand. But if we approach the matter from the
perspective of principle, the correct approach would be to, as I said in my
initial remarks, talk to whoever comes forward. You do not really gain by
excluding people in political processes like this. I would not reject
people, but talk to whomever. The safeguard that you have ultimately is
recourse to the opinion of the people. As I said, after you negotiate and
discuss with people, you will get a better sense of who is a legitimate
representative. You do not do anything official until you have had a
referendum, so you know that it is legitimate because it is the voice of the
Senator Raine: Part two of my question would be who would vote in
that referendum and how would you identify them?
Mr. P. Chartrand: That would have to be one of the processes that
would have to be determined in the process of initial negotiations between
the government, when you have the process of recognition, so you would have
to negotiate that as well. As I said, these matters are very, very complex,
very difficult. But you start, the government is able to start, take the
first step, say we want representatives of the particular communities. You
start with the people who are there now, and you talk with them and you come
up with a catalogue of communities, and then you come up with a definition
of who will be eligible in the particular referendum.
Senator Raine: So it still comes back to somewhere along the line
when you cast your vote you are doing it as an individual?
Mr. P. Chartrand: It is much better I think than trying to have
people go before a judge and go through some legal test to do that. That is
extremely expensive. Some people make money out of it, but it is extremely
expensive, it drains the treasury and it does not resolve anything fast. It
is not the way to go.
Senator Raine: I agree 100 per cent. Thank you very much. I really
appreciate your comments.
The Chair: I have one short, final question. Chief Teillet, whom I
am sure you know, an original Saint Boniface family, the Teillet family, is
a lawyer, and she presented evidence before us. She came up with the fact
that I think, and I have read her transcript twice, that the homeland, that
when you identify a group of people they generally have a language, and they
come from a geographical area. Like the Dutch people come from Holland,
there is a geographical area and they speak a language, they are called
Dutch people. Regarding Metis, if I interpret her evidence properly, there
was a homeland here that was established that was a government action of the
Manitoba Act of 1870; there was a language; and clearly the homeland as
defined should be recognized as the basis of who and what Metis are. In
other words, if you came from that area or your ancestors came from that
area, you would be considered Metis on the strength of that. Do you have a
quick reaction to that, professor?
Mr. P. Chartrand: Yes, thank you, senator. Those factors are
reasonable and can be very useful. I would say they ought not to be the only
factors, but they would certainly be found in any list of significant
factors. This question has challenged the best academic minds around the
world and politicians working through the United Nations for many years. We
were not able to deal with the question of definition of indigenous peoples
as we negotiated the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples. People wanted to stay away from that. There is no definition, so
that emphasizes how difficult the project is.
I could refer your staff to a publication that is published in an Asian
law journal that I view as the best, most intelligent, rationale approach to
defining indigenous people. It would include certainly the factors that you
mentioned, senator. You would have a look at a list of factors, objective
factors, but also you have to use subjective factors, people have to believe
blah, blah, blah. That is why I mentioned reputation. It would be very
dangerous to have a purely scientific approach. However, I do believe that
the proper approach would be, yes, to look at matters like language and
territory, but not to create an exclusive list, and not to have a list that
says you must have all of these, but rather to say as the international
system in a sense does, here is a list of eight factors. Generally a people
will exhibit quite a number of these particular factors, you see. That is
the best that I can do in a very brief response. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, professor, for appearing before us. We have
got to go to St. Laurent, because we understand there is an important person
who lives on lot 2 in St. Laurent. Anyway, thank you again for your
presentation and your straightforward answers to our questions. I realize it
is complex, but that is why we called on you. If it was simple, we would
have asked somebody else to come.
(The committee adjourned.)