I have a weekend project: Listen to an episode of CBC's The Doc Project. The new episode is advertised as "Producer's notebook: my quest to discover my Métis identity" and "A family secret leads one woman to embrace her newfound Métis identity." The woman is CBC's Rebecca Hass.
Secrets. Identity. Métis. The three words have so often come together in the lives of Métis Canadians. Family lore has it that one of my relatives left Saskatchewan to avoid the discrimination he faced there. He thought he might be able to get work, get paid better, get treated more humanely, if he could pass as non-Métis somewhere else. I don't know if he ever could pass. I didn't hear that part of the story.
Generations later, his grandchildren and great grandchildren are applying for the new Métis cards and hoping to get the land promised them by the Canadian government a century ago. We could pass but we don't want to anymore.
I always knew I was Métis. Wherever we lived, my mother connected us to our Métis culture through the stories she told us.
Rebecca Hass's story isn't one of a loosened connection to community as a survival strategy. It's the story of near-complete disconnection, an almost total erasure from memory.
Hass's short text says that "when her dad died about 4 years ago, she was shocked to discover there were parts of her identity that she'd had no idea about.
"And, now that she knew? She set out on a journey to connect with her family, her culture ... and herself."
My journey started from a different place. But I am on the same journey as Hass. We all are. Métis, Indigenous, Aboriginal, Indian--whatever we call ourselves, we're traveling similar, well-trod paths. Sure is nice to have company.
Anyway -- I'm going to listen to the documentary about Hass's story this weekend, while the wind blows and the snow drifts get larger and crankier.