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The topic of Status was a much easier discussion, because I avoided delving into identity issues in order to give you the bare bones legislative context.

Trust me, there are much larger identity discussions yet to be had on ‘who is an Indian’. This is probably going to leave you with more questions than answers, but I do hope that your perception of the question itself will have shifted.

In another post, I talked about Pan-Indianism, and also Pan-Métisism.

I want to go into the history of the Métis, and talk about and quote some John Ralston Saul (okay I actually have no desire to do that last thing) but this person just asked me a question at a party and his eyes are already drifting over the lithe form of a single neighbour. ” I am impressed with your mathematical skills, imaginary pastiche of all the people who have asked me this question since I moved to Quebec, but no.

I have a hard time not addressing this question so sometimes we don’t to be linear. And here I have run up against the little ‘m’ versus big ‘M’ identity argument.

Oh come on, are identity issues that easily navigated, even on an individual level?

Yes I am going to get personal, because it’s important that you know where I come from so that you understand why I have the opinions I have, and why others from different backgrounds may agree with me or not.

You, my egg-nog drinking friend who thinks it’s appropriate to quiz me on my ‘background’ are using the little ‘m’ definition. This is the category I’ve encountered most in Quebec.

As a racial category, one is little ‘m’ métis when they are not fully Indian or non-aboriginal. This is not the only term that was used, we were also called half-bloods, half-breeds, michif, bois brûlé, chicot, country-born, mixed bloods, and so on.

(I warned some of you I’d be rehashing supposedly ‘old’ territory!

) If you were to boil down common approaches to Métis identity, you generally end up with two categories, sometimes overlapping, sometimes entirely separate, sometimes with all sorts of anomalies left over and scattered about.

Names like L’Hirondelle, Loyer, Callihoo (spelled a million different ways), Belcourt…those were a dead give away that someone was related to me somehow.

But aside from the odd family story that didn’t interest me as a child (but fascinate me now as an adult), I knew very little about our regional history.

In a previous post, I described what it is like as an Alberta Métis to come to Quebec and realise that ‘Métis’ does not mean the same thing here.

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