Here, I explore What it means to be Métis in Canada Today. A little poetry never hurt anyone, either.

Thank you, Katherena Vermette

There's a reason it's taken me so long to write the next post about Vermette's "The Break." And it's not just because I was busy, though I was. It's because I recognized myself and my family in that book. My sisters and my aunts and my brother and cousins. 

I've realized this: that usually when I read a novel I feel something like a anthropologist-fly on the wall, witnessing the unfolding of the stories that aren't my own. There are parts I understand, bits I know, but, for the most part, I am enjoying the unravelling of motivations and understandings that don't really match mine. 

I have rarely read about a family or family dynamics that match the one I come from. (There are a couple of exceptions and I'll write about those books in future posts.)

What I've found is that recognition is uncomfortable for me. 

I live in a small city right now. I've lived here for about eight years. I go out and people know me, know my children, know my partner. This, I notice is comforting for some people, For others, it's a bit too much, perhaps. But I've found myself puzzled by this recognition, by being seen by others. I moved around a lot and my family was so different than others that I never really got the hang of belonging, you could say. 

This book is a more intense form of that. I go outside my house expecting the anonymity I've had for most of my life. Not to have that is disconcerting, not bad, but it takes adjustment. I go into novels to read about different lives, read about women I've never been and never will be. In this book, for the first time in a long time (maybe ever--I have to think about that), I've found my family, my grandmother, my mother and aunts and sisters-- and my culture. 

I don't know. The shock of this unexpected recognition is deeply emotional. It shows me the absences around which so much of my life has been lived. I miss something that was never named, growing up. 

And I had to put the book aside. 

I'm back to it now, though. I'll have another response soon. 

Thank you Katherena Vermette. 

Being Métis in The Break (up to page 75)

Are Métis 'Indians'?