The Métis National Council says the government of Canada and Truth and Reconciliation Commission process has treated Canada’s Métis people as an afterthought, leaving them out of an opportunity for healing from the intergenerational effects of Canada’s residential school system.
“For an Aboriginal people who have experienced decades of marginalization, many of whom attended Métis residential or boarding schools, this latest exclusion is inexcusable and demoralizing,” said Métis Nation president Clément Chartier in a press release.
Although many children attended residential and boarding schools, Métis were not part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement, a multi-billion dollar agreement between the federal government, churches and survivors that resulted in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
This was likely because the schools most Métis children attended, while run by churches, were provincially funded and not funded by Ottawa. The federal government has been, to put it lightly, reluctant to take responsibility for Métis survivors.
Provincial governments were not part of the settlement, and according to those familiar with the process there were no mechanisms to get them to the table without another major lawsuit. Over the past several years the TRC Métis survivors have watched First Nations and Inuit survivors of residential schools receive counselling, compensation and support.
“Other than a few of the recommendations that include Métis in proposed actions, we are treated as an afterthought,” Chartier said Tuesday.
“Little thought was given or advice provided to deal with the exclusion of Métis residential schools from federal settlements agreements.”
Chartier himself is a survivor of residential school, the Ile a la Crosse Métis boarding school, which he noted was one of the oldest such residential schools in Canada “where many of us suffered psychological, physical, cultural, emotional and yes, sexual abuse at the hands of the servants of the Catholic Church.”
“The Métis residential schools represent the most glaring moral and legal failure of the former Liberal government and the current Harper government to do justice in our time with Métis people,” Chartier added.
In previous years Métis have been invited to participate in TRC events but in the final national event in Edmonton last March, were not invited to speak. They also were not invited to participate in the final days of the TRC, from May 31 to June 3, in Ottawa.
Mitch Case, president of the Métis Nation of Ontario Youth Council, said survivors have continually been excluded from the TRC process.
“I think generally Métis youth are conflicted, filled with joy for our First Nations and Inuit relatives who are being recognized through the TRC process and yet deeply saddened that our community and our survivors are left out,” he told Yahoo Canada News.
“All of this begs the question to Canada, the provinces and the TRC,” he added, “do Métis experiences matter?”
According to the Métis National Council, there is somewhere between 350,000 – 400,000 Métis citizens in Canada, which amounts to about a quarter of all aboriginal peoples in the country.