Interviews with Lawrence Gervais, Joe Lougheed, and Olivia Marie Golosky. Filmed in the Lougheed House on November 5, 2018. Videography by Jacquie Aquines, 2019.
[0:00 – 2:37]
Métis and half-breed were terms they used in censuses, so when they were going and doing their counts, they would count you as a half-breed and then label you as that. If you were Métis, they would label you in the French speaking terms and label you as Métis, and they also would go French breed, Scotch breed, and English breed and then they would check you off there. So half-breed is actually in context to the censuses. The term half-breed became something discriminatory when the residential schools were happening; in say the 60s and the 70s it became something very different. In terms of how the government categorizes us we never made the argument because we’ve always been otipemisiwak (Cree word for ‘people who govern themselves) type people where we’ve always governed ourselves and we, never let anybody govern us, so we just chose to ignore it. But then it became something discriminatory when they were banning people from bars or from having employment, where they’d become hidden – it was more of a derogatory thing and more of a racial slur. When 1885 happened, the last rebellion, then families started to become hidden and they started to hide. And the reasoning was when there became government care there was a lot of discrimination and they were imposing their will by policy against First Nations people. And Métis people obviously didn’t want to be discriminated against or be a part of those policies, so they just chose to not identify. It was more of self-preservation than anything. And that was predominant, it even happens even to this day. Then when the dispersals were happening, there was two of them, 1870 and 1885, the families either went on Reserve and became accustomed to First Nations lifestyle, and some continued their European lifestyle moving ahead. But also knowing they’re Métis was a matter of choice whether they wanted to identify. It would have been extremely difficult for her to identify with the amount of power and wealth that Sir James Lougheed brought. It would have been tough for her as Lady Isabella Hardisty to actually identify as Métis when policies were made to assimilate them.
[2:38 – 2:50]
And she lived in the culture of her times. She was proud of her past and she did not hide it. But the acceptance of Indigenous cultures was different then.
Olivia Marie Golosky
[2:51 – 5:17]
That disconnect between that fractured-ness that I think I feel as a Métis person and what that means, to be existing in both worlds, also translates into politics. Because to fit within the political system in Canada that means you have to set up your constructs and your systems and your rules and your language to fit into a system that is designated to not necessarily have you included in the first place so I think a lot of the time you can have political organizations or parties but they inherently are catering to a system that doesn’t necessarily want you around or is actively oppressing your communities and the communities of our First Nations families. I know for myself I grew up with a lot of kind of like shame around it, and because I’m so white-passing, feeling like I didn’t have necessarily have the right to claim being Métis especially as I didn’t grow up speaking Cree where my grandfather did. I think maybe there’s a disconnect from how what I thought being Métis was to how I actually lived my life and was raised. It’s interesting because with the movements like Idle No More and with acts like the Truth and Reconciliation we’re kind of seeing a resurgence, and kind of this huge push towards decolonization in spaces and within ourselves and what that means. It’s kind of allowed for, at least for myself, has allowed me that I don’t have to be ashamed or don’t have to be afraid of being Métis. It’s important not only for myself but for my grandfather and his siblings to be able to identify and talk about it because that’s something they weren’t able to do. It’s probably more common than I’d like to think it is just because there’s been a lot of like internalized racism. Colonialism is very successful in that way, that lateral violence is really real and was probably very alive and real back then. It’s a very real tenet of communities today, unfortunately. I don’t fault I think her for doing that and hiding her identity or maybe not so vocally identifying with it, just maybe out of survival.