Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Aboriginal Peoples

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 Strategic Initiatives.

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 Manitoba.

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 Friendship Centres.

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 available.

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 population.

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 first question.

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 chose.

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 Federation?

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 on that.

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 organization.

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 Manitoba?

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 non-native people?

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 services unit.

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 identifies.

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.

Welcome, gentlemen.

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 question.

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 Aboriginal rights.

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 Manitoba today.

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 — Metis rights.

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, however.

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 harvester cards.

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 trust fund.

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 accommodation policy.

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 accommodated.

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 the MMF.

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 history here.

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 Manitoba.

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 issue.

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 versus population.

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 process.

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 language.

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 they are.

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 record.

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 clarify that?

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 population.

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 never happen.

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 are.

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 September 2014?

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 today.

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 system.

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 mixed blood.

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 provided.

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 Winnipeg.

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 quite interesting.

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 original Metis.

Senator Raine: Because they came from here?

Mr. Ranville: Yes.

Senator Raine: The Assiniboine district, is that a district of Manitoba?

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 Canada census?

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 federal government?

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 rights.

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 Nation.

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 speak Michif?

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 it.

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 reference.

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 territory.

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 specific rights.

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 view.

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 you.

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 of it.

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 reputation.

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 affected.

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 animal husbandry.

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 determine.

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 people.

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.)

Back to top