Prince Rupert mayor proclaims Nov. 14 to 20 as Métis Awareness Week

·2 min read

Métis Awareness Week in Prince Rupert has been officially proclaimed as Nov. 14 to 20 by Mayor Lee Brain in a letter dated Nov. 1 to Prince Rupert & District Métis Society (PRDMS).

The proclaimed week is in tandem with Louis Riel Day, on Nov. 16, which celebrates Métis culture and traditions.

“I think this is wonderful that the mayor and council acknowledge and join with us in celebrating this [day],” Joy Sundin, president of PRDMS, told The Northern View.

The day also commemorates advocate and politician Louis Riel’s fight for the rights of Métis people in Canada.

Métis culture was preserved ‘underground’ for more than a century due to the hostilities they faced day-to-day.

“I personally did not know I was Métis until I was in my middle 40s because my father, who was Métis, didn’t want to acknowledge that — due to a very, very difficult upbringing.”

Many Métis parents, including Sundin’s family, previously would not pass their language and culture onto their children. Métis weren’t accepted by other indigenous people, Caucasian communities or the government, Sundin said.

“We are called the forgotten people,” she said.

In 1982, the Government of Canada officially recognized Métis under Section 35 of the Constitution Act as “full status as a distinctive rights-bearing peoples.” Métis, along with Inuit and Indian (as defined under the Act), are recognized as “Aboriginal peoples of Canada.”

Sundin believes it is crucial Prince Rupert recognizes the Métis and their contribution to the community.

“We’ve got to be very proud of our Métis citizens here in Prince Rupert. So many of them are entrepreneurs in our community and supporters in our community and belong to service organizations and give back,” she said.

This will be the fourth consecutive year the City of Prince Rupert has observed the week dedicated to Métis culture and people. The city first dedicated the week to Métis awareness in 2018.

“Métis citizens and government officials have stood together with the Métis Nation BC to honour and recognize the day, Nov. 16, when Métis can stand proud of their culture and identity,” the mayor’s letter read.

The PRDMS will hold a Louis Riel Social on Nov. 20. The fundraising event at the Moose Hall, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., will feature live music courtesy of Gail Force 11, with proceeds of an auction going to support the family of Metis man, Mark Bell who passed away in October after a battle with cancer.

Bell and his family manage the Cassiar Cannery in Port Edward. Admission will be by donation at the door and will feature prizes, refreshments and snacks.

A parallel online auction will open on Nov. 16 for those who can’t attend in person.

Norman Galimski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View

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