All my life, I haven't been sure what it means to be Métis. I still don't know--that's what this reading journey is about. I need to explore what it being Métis means to other Métis writers.
Many of the characters in Katherena Vermette's "The Break" are trying to figure out what Métis is, too. I like that. I recognize the questions, the answers, the self-doubt.
For some of the characters, being Métis is experienced as a series of absences-- a lack of home, a lack of land, a lack of family.
Like in when this Métis woman, Lou, thinks about her sister, Paul and her new boyfriend, whose family lives on a reservation. "I smiled at her and thought of the picture: a real house in a real community with a real family. Real Indians! Not city half-breeds like us. I could see what Paul loved about this.... our city childhoods and little family so small and so wrecked. We had a couple of winters at our dad's place in the bush, but it was always lonely and too quiet." (42)
For another character, Métis is experienced as a designation that he isn't sure he has a right to and one that his non-Indigenous father would object to. Métis police officer Tommy tries to explain to his non-Indigenous girlfriend, Hannah:
"Status is Indian. Métis is just Métis--half-breeds." He put it in terms she'd understand.
"Well you're not an Indian, you're just Métis, so we'll get that one [identity card]."
"Actually, my mom could get her status back if she wanted to. My aunt did, after my grandma died. I could get it too, really."
"You don't need to go that far! Métis is good enough," Hannah said, like they were picking paint colours. Red is too bold, just a pale pink please.
....The card finally arrived when he was in training. He looked at it a long time, thinking his father must be turning in his grave. Turning and swearing like hell, calling him every fucking derogatory racist name his angry ginger brain could think of.
I recognize myself in both excerpts. This is that kind of book for me.
To know how many people share this in-betweenness--that's something.