IndigNation | by Bev Cardinal
It’s been an all right Autumn — from my Métis perspective, anyway. Here are a few developments I’ve enjoyed.
in September, the feds formally apology to Métis veterans and their survivors for decades of racism and disgraceful treatment by Veterans Affairs. Although few Métis veterans from World War II and Korea remain with us, the apology was very much appreciated and long overdue by the survivors and families.
Oh yeah, there was also $30M attached to that apology, but the feds and Métis National Council have been really quiet about how that bag of money is going to be distributed. I’m hoping some of these funds will actually go toward the education and monuments mentioned in the press releases, but the cynic in me will believe it when she sees it. Grist for another column!
Then came October with the provincial government’s incredibly quiet declaration that October 2019 would be observed as “Métis Month” in recognition of Louis Riel’s 175th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the Red River Resistance. This announcement was made via a press release that also promoted a variety of arts, cultural and heritage-related activities happening in Regina at Government House, all paid for by the Government of Canada. It’s almost as if the provincial government was only compelled to come to the party by the prospect of humiliation? Cynical ol’ me again.
A COIN, A STAMP!
By the time November rolled around, the Royal Canadian Mint released the best kept secret in Canada (second only to the winner of The Great Canadian Baking Show!). Regina’s renowned Métis artist David Garneau had been commissioned some 18 months ago to design a silver dollar coin dedicated to Louis Riel. It’s the first coin to be engraved with Michif, the Métis official language, and it’s an intricate, cultural homage honouring a legendary leader. A superb piece of art!
And then Canada Post revealed a new stamp depicting Riel and members of his Red River Resistance Provisional Government, circa 1869. Together, these are a great tribute to a movement that was integral to the Canada’s creation. Maybe a bit late, given Riel was arrested, jailed for treason, tried in a court of his non-peers and then hanged at Regina’s RCMP depot over 130 years ago. But better late than never!
Jean Teillet, an Indigenous-rights lawyer and Riel’s great‐grandniece, released her new book The North‐West is Our Mother: The Story of Louis Riel’s People in September. It’s great! Teillet’s book fills-in gaps of Métis culture and history. If you’ve only heard the name “Louis Riel” and know nothing more about the Métis, read it! It’s an opportunity to learn, and a great step on your reconciliation journey.