Now that we are into the second half of this general election campaign, we’ve getting closer and closer to casting our ballots. But that doesn’t mean we’re any closer to the end of examples of bad vetting run amok. In fact so far this week more examples have come up, but they now come in a different context. Monday was the deadline to be registered as a candidate, so any candidate who drops out now cannot be replaced by their parties.
The Greens have had an a very rough time with their vetting failures so far that it’s almost hard to keep writing about them without feeling like you’re piling on. I mean, how many 9/11 Truthers can you write about being Green candidates before you’ve felt you’ve made a point. Turns out there are more of those who have been found now too in the Green ranks, but I’m not going to go into that today.
No, I am going to write about an amazingly egregious example of a vetting fail by the Greens, one that was found by Professor Darryl Leroux of St. Mary’s University. He’s an expert on the Métis community and he just released a new book last month called “Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity”. For years he has been writing about groups in Quebec and on the East Coast claiming to be Métis, so as a Métis person, I’ve appreciated his work. But he found something yesterday that just blew my mind, that demands some serious answers:
Everyone, meet Jocelyn Rioux, the Green Party candidate in the riding of Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques. In his biography, he claims to be the “chief” of “band council” for Metis Nation of Rising Sun, a group based in the Gaspé in Quebec. I say claims because, well, this group has become quite infamous in Indigenous circles. As Professor Leroux notes, they started as a 9-person hunting rights org opposing a Mi’kmaq territorial agreement. But after Supreme Court decisions like the Powley Decision, which was a seminal decision on Métis rights in Canada, groups like this started to spring up claiming to be Métis, many without any Indigenous heritage. If you want any more background on this story, I suggest reading this great piece by Leroux from Maisonneuve Magazine from a year ago on just this topic. It points to how this group in particular decision to try claiming to be Métis and how it came to be.
But that’s not all there is about this group, oh no. They have made other claims that are astounding as they are insulting. In a piece written in Maclean’s back in 2017, this piece was included about what they have claimed about who they are, their rights and the rights of actual Indigenous nations in the region:
The Métis Nation of Rising Sun has a tendency to portray its members as the only authentic Indigenous people in “their” territory. For example, the NMSL made several audacious historical claims in a public document that it prepared for a government commission in 2007.https://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/the-rise-of-eastern-metis-canada/
It asserted the Quebecois “Métis” are the only remaining Indigenous people in Quebec: “We present this document to you as the only direct descendants of Québec’s First Peoples whose members were not all killed by microbial shock. We stand as witnesses to the errors of Official History, which teach us that there are Métis and Indians while there is only one Indigenous Nation in Quebec.”
In this case, the Quebecois “Métis” construct themselves as withstanding biological elimination due in large part to their European lineage, which offered them immunity to disease.
The organization’s statement to government continues: “Your creation of reserves, which began in 1831–32, forced only the most miserable among us to live there…[We] refused to die on ‘your’ reserves…We remained free due to [our] inhuman efforts. Diseases that came from Europe…killed the [Indigenous] half of ourselves. Only the descendants mixed with Europeans survived these plagues.”
Let that sink in for a moment, they have the audacity to say that they are the “real” indigenous people, not the Mi’kmaq, who have called this region home since time in memoriam. Oh and not just in that region, but they are the only ones in the entirety of Quebec. And then to try to justify that, they say that “only descendants mixed with Europeans” survived, something that is not only historically false, but also insinuates some kind of genetic superiority over the actual Indigenous peoples of the region.
Yeah, there are many ways to describe just how ugly, offensive and deeply wrong that this is. And now one of their leaders is Elizabeth May’s candidate (and they even post a link to his campaign website on their website). Yes, Elizabeth May’s candidate is someone who is trying to negate the rights of the actual Indigenous people in Quebec and Atlantic Canada and trying to appropriate the name and culture of the actual Métis nation, all for his own personal gain. It’s disgusting, wrong and a serious slap in the face to Indigenous Nations across this land.
And folks, I have a hard time believing that they didn’t know this. Heck, he puts it right in his biography on his party website. And the idea that their vetting missed something so big, so wrong and so vulgar as this in their process is wrong beyond words. I would call for Ms. May to throw this candidate overboard and boot him from their party, but she has refused to do that so far for others, so I doubt she’ll do the right and principled thing now. Her party and her leadership need to be called out for allowing such a person to represent her party while at the same time she tries to present herself as an ally to Indigenous peoples. The Greens need to answer for this, and that needs to happen now, without delay.