The Highland Waters Métis Community Council is pleased to announce that it has been awarded an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to gather traditional knowledge about the Métis culture and way of life in its community. The council will work to collect this knowledge from Métis elders, traditional knowledge holders, Michif speakers, harvesters, and artists through written survey questions, oral interviews, audio/ video recordings and document research.
From their office near Northbrook, the council and its skeleton staff oversee a territory that extends southeast to Smiths Falls and to the 401 just north of Kingston and west to the edge of the Kawartha Lakes region.
“The territory is large and hard to cover,” said Candace Lloyd, Secretary/Treasurer of the council.
Handling membership issues is one of the challenges faced by the council, and Lloyd has copies of a booklet available that outlines how membership in the Metis Nations is determined. There were distinct Metis communities dotting the Ontario landscape. To qualify as a member of the Metis Nation of Ontario geneological information must be provided to establish direct descendence from a Metis ancestor. As the booklet points out, however, different terms were used in documentation over the years, and the term Metis is rare in Ontario records.
“For the most part the term Halfbreed is used and may be modified in various ways (i.e French breed, other breed, English breed, breed, etc.)” the booklet says also lists other terms, such as “Chicot, Bois-brule, Northmen, Canadian inhabitant, half caste, Indian Voyager, etc.” and the historical context of the record is taken into account as well.
One important aspect of Metis peoples and their identity is that they are distinct and not “simply groups of mixed ancestry peoples” the booklet says.
Documenting Metis knowledge is an important step in the work of the Highland Water Metis Council to help create awareness of Metis traditions and the distinct culture of the Metis in Ontario and beyond. That is why the Trillium grant comes at an opportune moment in the history of the Highland Waters Council.
With the completion of this project, the council will have documented stories of its knowledge holders that can be shared with the Métis community, especially the youth. This knowledge will be preserved and protected for future generations. This project will also help the Métis community in sharing its stories and perspectives with its First Nations neighbours, government, the broader non-Indigenous community, and others.
The council will be holding a local event to celebrate the grant during its Annual Harvest Dinner on Saturday, October 14, 2017 from 4-6pm at the Flinton Township Hall, 72 Edward Street, Flinton, Ontario. Harvest Potluck menu encouraged.