As many people who read this site know, or have come to know over time, I am Métis and proudly so. In the political sphere that can mean a few things but one of those things is having to be very protective of our nation, who we are and defend against those who make erroneous claims to be us. Sadly, we have way too many examples of groups trying to make those claims Quebec going eastward, and its something that never seems to end.
But these things can go to another level when outside groups or people with legitimacy give these fraudulent individuals and groups legitimacy by association. During the Fall election, I highlighted the case of one particularly egregious example, when the Green Party had a faux-Métis candidate running for them in Quebec, despite their words of support for the Métis Nation. That candidate was never booted, and it started a conversation in the media about this, where I had a few choice words to the Globe and Mail about it. As I said at the time, by the Greens allowing that person to run for them it gave them the appearance of legitimacy “because now they’re attached to [these parties] and they have said, ‘We approve of this person, they’re okay by us’”. That is a serious problem for political parties to face, one which the Greens completely ducked that time and essentially lent their name to a group trying to undermine the Métis Nation itself.
That was just one example and sadly it’s not the only one. We see groups, parties, some elected officials and alike who are well meaning but simply don’t know enough about the issue and in the end, give these faux-Métis groups legitimacy, even if only for a moment. But today Radio-Canada is reporting on a story that might actually take this to a whole different level, one which I found to be extremely disturbing on many levels:
Okay, this story is very disturbing to me on a number of levels. First, the idea that someone who whose claims to be Indigenous seem to shift, change or seemingly disappear is the one trying to create this party, supposedly an Indigenous political party. This is not just cultural appropriate, this is an attempt to do so to a political end, which is just ugly. How in the Hell that Elections Quebec would allow this to go this far is disturbing to say the least, but it also exposes just who lax and loose the rules are in Quebec when it comes to forming an official political party.
Secondly and more disturbing to me is the concept they are applying to determine membership or more specifically, who they consider to be Indigenous. They seem to have created a whole new definition for this, saying that they consider Indigenous to be anyone who has “Aboriginal Fibre”. What in the Hell does that mean to them? According to the Radio-Canada report, that includes “les indiens non-inscrits, les sang-mêlé oubliés, les Métis non reconnus et les Québécois et Québécoises de souche qui revendiquent cette identité.” Let that wash over you for a moment; for them to be Indigenous, you can be anything from Non-status Indians, faux-Métis or heck, you can even be “Québécois de souche” who wants to claim to be Indigenous. That’s so offense and so far beyond the pale that it made me sick to my stomach to read. The fact that Elections Quebec would allow a group basically proposing the idea of erasing Indigenous identity to form a political party is beyond the pale and just wrong on so many levels.
You can see why Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, has spoken out so strongly about this, calling this group out for trying to legitimize itself by trying to association themselves with the AFNQL without their consent. Also Picard rightly points out that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen groups do this in Quebec and also in Eastern Canada, trying to claim Indigenous ancestry out of the blue to hunt or to try to get access to funds and programs for Indigenous peoples.
But I would say this is a different level of disturbing to me. This group is trying to use the electoral system and the legitimacy that can be conferred on it by Elections Quebec, a formal government body, by having their application to be an official party in Quebec approved, to advance their claims. That is beyond the pale, disgusting and wrong in so many ways, but so far it seems that Elections Quebec is oblivious to how they are being used.
I would hope that the other parties in Quebec or the government at the very least would step up to stomp this out in its tracks, but don’t count me as hopeful on that. My bigger worry is that other groups in other regions will take this same approach, trying to use the electoral system to legitimize their illegitimate claims. The idea that a political party would allow themselves to be used like this was bad enough, but that the government body who’s responsible for running fair elections in a province might do the same is just too far. Elections Quebec needs to step in here and stop this group in its tracks because if they allow this and let this group try to appropriate the culture and nation of another for their gain, it will set an ugly precedence that shouldn’t happen.