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Stories of contemporary Métis identity in British Columbia : ‘troubling’ discourses of race, culture,… Legault, Gabrielle Monique 2016

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    STORIES OF CONTEMPORARY MÉTIS IDENTITY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA:  ‘TROUBLING’ DISCOURSES OF RACE, CULTURE, AND NATIONHOOD   by   Gabrielle Monique Legault
   A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The College of Graduate Studies  (Interdisciplinary Studies) [Geography/ Indigenous Studies/ Anthropology]  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  (Okanagan)     November 2016 © Gabrielle Monique Legault, 2016 	 ii	  The undersigned certify that they have read, and recommend to the College of Graduate Studies for acceptance, a thesis entitled:   STORIES OF CONTEMPORARY MÉTIS IDENTITY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA:  ‘TROUBLING’ DISCOURSES OF RACE, CULTURE, AND NATIONHOOD  submitted by  Gabrielle Legault in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.    Dr. Jon Corbett, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences  Supervisor, Professor    Dr. Mike Evans, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences  Supervisory Committee Member, Professor    Dr. Rachelle Hole, Faculty of Health and Social Development  Supervisory Committee Member, Professor   Dr. Christine Schreyer, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences  University Examiner, Professor   Dr. Brenda Macdougall, University of Ottawa  External Examiner, Professor    November 4, 2016    Additional Committee Members include:   Dr. Peter Hutchinson, Faculty of Health and Social Development    			 		 iii						ABSTRACT  Politicians, the Canadian judiciary, Métis citizens, and scholars have attempted to develop definitions for the term ‘Métis,’ arguing that until there is agreement on the definition of ‘Métis’ and requirements for citizenship and homeland boundaries are agreed upon, the Métis will not be able to capitalize on self-government opportunities (Belcourt, 2013; Chartrand, 2001). However, the ongoing inter and intra-community conflicts regarding Métis identity suggest that there remains a lack of consensus over the appropriate use of the term ‘Métis’. This study argues for a re-thinking of current understandings of Métis identity as inherent and singular. Instead, Métis identity can be understood as a socially constructed phenomenon, whereby collective and individual Métis senses of selves have developed throughout history by drawing on contemporaneous dominant discourses and are thus, performative in nature. Employing an indigenist research methodology that centres relational accountability, this study involved interviewing 20 Métis people residing in British Columbia’s Southern Interior Region to understand the ways in which people identify as Métis in BC. Employing methods such as Critical Discourse Analysis and Narrative Analysis, participant narratives as well as the scholarly, legal, and political texts that inform contemporary constructions of ‘Métis’ were explored, with three dominant discourses centred on racialized, ethno-cultural, and nation-based definitions of Métis emerging. Participants’ stories illustrate not only the ways in which dominant discourses of ‘Métisness’ are reproduced, cited, and reified, but also suggest that some Métis people attempt to subvert dominant discourses through a refusal to identify with particular discourses. The diversity of experiences identifying as Métis demonstrate that there are distinct differences between the rigid identities that are constructed and expected by decision-makers and the fluid realities of Métis identities, thereby undermining assumptions of Métis identities as fixed, instrumental, passive, and power-neutral in lieu of poststructuralist notions of identity as constructed, fluid, incomplete, and thus, continuously evolving. 	 iv	PREFACE   This dissertation is original, unpublished work by the author Gabrielle Legault. The fieldwork described in this study (research interviews) was covered by the UBC Behavioral Research Ethics Board (H13-00050).                     	 v	TABLE OF CONTENTS  ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................................................................. iii	PREFACE ................................................................................................................................................................ iv	TABLE OF CONTENTS ........................................................................................................................................ v	GLOSSARY ........................................................................................................................................................... vii	ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................................................................................................................. viii	CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................... 1	CHAPTER 2: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ................................................................................................ 15	2.1 My Place, My Relations ............................................................................................................................................... 19	2.2 The Rituals of Research Ceremony ............................................................................................................................ 24	2.2.1 Participant Recruitment ........................................................................................................................................... 24	2.2.2 The Interview .......................................................................................................................................................... 25	2.2.3 Member-checking ................................................................................................................................................... 27	2.2.4 Coding ..................................................................................................................................................................... 27	2.3 Critical Discourse Analysis .......................................................................................................................................... 28	2.4 Narrative Analysis ........................................................................................................................................................ 31	2.5 Summary ....................................................................................................................................................................... 33	CHAPTER 3: THEORETICAL ORIENTATION ............................................................................................. 34	3.1 Enlightenment and Social Subjects ............................................................................................................................. 34	3.2 Indigenous Perspectives of the Subject ....................................................................................................................... 36	3.3 Place-Identity ................................................................................................................................................................ 38	3.4 Poststructural Subjectivity .......................................................................................................................................... 40	3.5 Discourse ....................................................................................................................................................................... 41	3.6 Agency ........................................................................................................................................................................... 43	3.7 Language and Social Practices .................................................................................................................................... 45	3.8 Foucault’s ‘Power/Knowledge’ ................................................................................................................................... 46	3.8.1 Apparatus, Technologies, Tactics, and Norms ........................................................................................................ 49	3.8.2 Naturalizing Binaries and Difference ...................................................................................................................... 51	3.9 Cultural Identities ........................................................................................................................................................ 53	3.10 Resistance, Subversion, and Performativity ............................................................................................................ 53	3.11 Narrative Identity ....................................................................................................................................................... 59	3.12 Summary ..................................................................................................................................................................... 61	CHAPTER 4: DISCOURSES OF MÉTIS IDENTITY ...................................................................................... 63	4.1 Racialized Definitions of Métis .................................................................................................................................... 63	4.1.1 International Application of Blood Quantum ......................................................................................................... 65	4.1.2 “Indian Act Blood”: Blood Quantum in Canada ..................................................................................................... 67	4.1.3 Arguments Against Blood Quantum ....................................................................................................................... 68	4.1.4 Arguments for Blood Quantum ............................................................................................................................... 70	4.1.5 Mixed-Blood Narratives .......................................................................................................................................... 73	4.1.6 Appearing Indigenous: The Racialized Body ......................................................................................................... 73	4.1.7 Métis as Hybrids ..................................................................................................................................................... 78	4.1.8 Summary ................................................................................................................................................................. 79	4.2 Ethno-Cultural Definitions of Métis ........................................................................................................................... 80	4.2.1 Indigenous Identity .................................................................................................................................................. 81	4.2.2 Shared ‘Ways of Being’ .......................................................................................................................................... 87	4.2.3 Indigenous in Canada: A Matter of Difference ....................................................................................................... 90		 vi	4.2.4 Legal Implications of the Cultural Rights Approach .............................................................................................. 91	4.2.5 The Powley Decision .............................................................................................................................................. 95	4.2.6 The Daniels Decision .............................................................................................................................................. 98	4.2.7 Self-identification, Cultural Appropriation, and Ethnic Fraud ............................................................................. 102	4.2.8 Summary ............................................................................................................................................................... 109	4.3 Political Definitions of Métis ...................................................................................................................................... 110	4.3.1 Nationalism as a Discourse ................................................................................................................................... 111	4.3.2 Indigenous Nationhood ......................................................................................................................................... 115	4.3.3 Métis Nationhood .................................................................................................................................................. 119	4.3.4 The Métis National Historical Narrative ............................................................................................................... 121	4.3.4.1 The Context of Métis Emergence: Fur Trade Economics ................................................................................................ 123	4.3.4.2 Métis Spirituality as a Response to Religious Expansion ................................................................................................ 125	4.3.4.3 Métis Nationhood as a Response to Colonial Policies ..................................................................................................... 128	4.3.4.4 Historical Experiences of Discrimination ........................................................................................................................ 139	4.3.5 Tracing the Boundaries of the Métis Homeland ................................................................................................... 142	4.3.6 Métis in British Columbia ..................................................................................................................................... 145	4.3.6.1 Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) Citizenship ...................................................................................................... 147	4.3.7 The Nationhood Debate ........................................................................................................................................ 149	4.3.8 Summary ............................................................................................................................................................... 152	CHAPTER 5: NARRATIVES OF MÉTIS IN BC ............................................................................................ 154	5.1 “when there’s something missing, you can feel it” .................................................................................................. 157	5.2 “I felt like a fraud for a long time” ........................................................................................................................... 158	5.3 “I’m not sure where I fit” .......................................................................................................................................... 160	5.4 “They get their card and you never see them again” .............................................................................................. 161	5.5 “it’s hard for me to identify with Louis Riel, Red River…” .................................................................................. 163	5.6 “I grew up in a Métis family and it was just kind of what you did” ...................................................................... 166	5.7 “It’s a part of the game” ............................................................................................................................................ 174	5.8 “my mom is where I get my Native blood” .............................................................................................................. 176	5.9 “Whatever gave you the idea I wanted to be an Indian?” ...................................................................................... 179	5.10 “Métis is of Mixed blood” ........................................................................................................................................ 183	5.11 “we’re all different kinds of cultures put together” .............................................................................................. 184	5.12 “We are not just a leftover” ..................................................................................................................................... 189	5.13 “I don’t feel like I have a hole in me anymore. I know where I belong.” ............................................................ 194	5.14 “I didn’t know I was Métis until 1982, but I always knew I was a half-breed” ................................................. 202	5.15 “Oh, you’re one of those green-eyed Indians” ....................................................................................................... 207	5.16 "What if you do have an Indian grandma in the closet though, right?” ............................................................. 214	5.17 “my grandmother lived in the fast lane” ................................................................................................................ 219	5.18 Summary ................................................................................................................................................................... 226	CHAPTER 6: DISCUSSION .............................................................................................................................. 228	6.1 Place-Identity: Being Métis in BC ............................................................................................................................. 228	6.2 Constructing Métis Identity through Dominant Discourses .................................................................................. 232	6.2.1 Reproducing and Resisting Racialized Discourses ............................................................................................... 234	6.2.2 Reproducing and Resisting Ethno-Cultural Discourses ........................................................................................ 236	6.2.2.1 An Emerging Sub-discourse of Relationality (Wahkootowin) ......................................................................................... 238	6.2.3 Reproducing and Resisting Discourses of Métis Nationalism .............................................................................. 243	6.3 Métis Identity as Performative .................................................................................................................................. 249	6.4 A Proposal for Métis Peoplehood .............................................................................................................................. 255	6.5 Summary ..................................................................................................................................................................... 260	CHAPTER 7: CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................................... 263	BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................................................................ 267		 vii	GLOSSARY AGM- Annual General Meeting BCMF- British Columbia Métis Federation BFISS- Boundary Family and Individual Service Society  CDA- Critical Discourse Analysis HBC- Hudson’s Bay Company IR- Indigenist Research KMA- Kelowna Métis Association MCSSBC- Métis Community Services Society of British Columbia MFC- Métis Federation of Canada MNBC- Métis Nation British Columbia MNC- Métis National Council MNGA- Métis Nation Governing Assembly  MNO- Métis Nation Ontario MPCBC- Métis Provincial Council of Brtish Columbia NA- Narrative Analysis NWC- North West Company   				 viii	ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS   First, I must express my gratitude towards the research participants of this study as well as the broader Métis community for providing me with their insight, valuable time, support, and knowledge. Without them, this research would not exist. I also respect and acknowledge the Syilx and Ktunaxa Peoples for allowing me to study, learn from, and work in their traditional territories. I am grateful to have had my studies supported by the University of British Columbia Okanagan (including the Institute for Community Engaged Research), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the International Society for Ethnobiology.   I thank the academic giants on whose shoulders I stood in completing this study including social theorists and Indigenous and Métis scholars, but also my supervisor Dr. Jon Corbett who guided me throughout this process and my supervisory committee members Dr. Mike Evans, Dr. Rachelle Hole, and Dr. Peter Hutchinson for their valuable feedback. I am also indebted to my fellow graduate students who have enriched this study through our conversations (notably Jennifer Leason, Amy Malbeuf, Dion Kaszas, Sandra Young, Levi Gahman, Robyn Bunn, Menno Salverda, and Carlene Dingwall).  Finally I thank my relations: my parents and siblings for supporting my intellectual endeavours for so long even if it may run contrary to ‘getting a real job’; my husband who has grown intellectually alongside me, played the devil’s advocate, and provided necessary love and support through the most arduous times of this process; my daughters, who I carried with me throughout this process in my womb, thoughts, and dreams for a better life for future generations of Métis children; and lastly my ancestors for instilling pride in me about where I come from and leaving clues to my own heritage through photographs, their writing, and the stories that they have passed on through generations.      	 1		CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 	 The topic of Métis identity	has become a pressing issue within Canada, as the population has demonstrated unprecedented growth, which is often attributed to demographic factors such as high fertility rates (relative to non-Aboriginal peoples) as well as an increasing trend for people to self-identify as Métis. Increased online access to genealogical records and an emerging sense of pride in Indigenous heritage have allowed for particular representations of indigeneity to become increasingly acceptable. In particular, this has resulted in a significant increase in Métis identification amongst families who may have not identified openly as ‘Métis’ for generations (or ever). Consequentially, Métis communities have experienced growth, increased demands for programs and services, and diverse forms of cultural revival. According to the 2011 National Household Survey, there are approximately 418,380 self-identifying Métis people in Canada, making up almost 30% of the total Aboriginal population in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2013). The population continues to grow at rates that exceed the theoretical maximum natural increase (5.5% per year).1 Statistics Canada predicts that “by 2031, it would reach just over 500,000 if ethnic mobility was to cease in 2006, but would rise to more than 850,000 if ethnic mobility were to continue at the level observed between 1996 and 2006,” thus rendering the Métis the fastest growing Aboriginal population (2011).   Despite the large population of self-identifying Métis in Canada, there is currently minimal federal or provincial funding allocated towards Métis people. This is particularly problematic as Métis populations exhibit similar health and socio-economic challenges as First Nations populations who have funding in place to address such discrepancies. While generally speaking, Métis peoples demonstrate health concerns similar to those of First Nations populations, there are some differences in terms of social determinants of health, actual condition rates, and access to healthcare services. In 2006, 54% of Métis aged 15 and over reported having been diagnosed with at least one chronic condition, with some disease rates almost doubling other Canadians (Martens, Bartlett, Prior, Sanguins, Burchill, Burland, & Carter, 2011). Furthermore, life expectancy for Métis people has been reported as 																																																								1 According to the 2001 Canadian census, Métis have experienced a 43% increase from 1996 to 2001 compared to a 3.4% increase for all Canadians.  	 2	being 5 to 6 years lower than that of the general population (Foulds, Mamdouh, Shubair, & Warburton, 2013), and within Manitoba, “Métis are 21% more likely to die before the age of 75 than all other Manitobans” (Carter, Kosowan, Garner, & Sanguins, 2013). In another study of Manitoba Métis, it was clear that the overall health status of Métis people was much poorer than other Manitobans, and that measures of mortality such as total mortality rate, premature mortality rate (PMR), injury mortality rate, and potential years of life lost (PYLL) were between 14% and 23% higher for the Métis (Martens et al., 2011). Such health disparities have been further enhanced by the longtime abandonment of the Métis to a jurisdictional void, which has resulted in minimal or even no funding for Métis populations.  The authors of the above studies argue that such low life expectancy and the prevalence of chronic health problems for Métis people are a direct result of social determinants of health such as the lower levels of education and the relatively lower income that Métis people experience. Income levels are much lower for Métis populations in comparison to those of the non-Aboriginal population as “nearly 50% of Métis individuals earn less than $10,000 per year, compared with only 34% of the non-Aboriginal population” (Foulds et al., 2013).2 Unemployment rates are particularly high among Métis people as they are between 18%-22%, which is more than double that of the general population (6%-10%). Moreover, high school educational attainments are low among Métis populations in comparison with the non-Aboriginal population (76% vs. 88%). In addition, compared to the non-Aboriginal population in Canada Métis are disproportionately incarcerated and have a long history of being overrepresented in the child welfare system (Barkwell, Longclaws, & Chartrand, 1989; OCI Report, 2013). Furthermore, Métis scholar Brenda Macdougall has argued that a secure sense of identity amongst Métis peoples is itself a social determinant of health that has long been ignored and requires addressing (2016; also see 2015a).   As a result of the lack of ‘Indian status’ and access to government programs and services, differing groups have claimed Métis status and are now in conflict with one another, resulting in low-level conflict amongst national, provincial, and regional métis organizations (Kennedy, 1997). Problematically, fluid definitions of ‘Métis’ coupled with a dispersed and politically fragmented population have resulted in continued financial 																																																								2 Note that income is even lower for Métis women, who earn on average $11,000 less than Métis men (Foulds et al., 2013). 	 3	insecurity, a lack of control over resources, and an ongoing political struggle for sufficient recognition. Furthermore, despite the Canadian public’s general interest in learning about Métis people, “[B]asic knowledge about Métis issues is remarkably low” (Gaudry, 2015, p. 97). Because Métis as a category does not fit easily into taxonomic notions of ethnic groups as discrete entities, Métis have been largely defined in terms of their relationship to both First Nation groups and Euro-Canadians (Andersen, 2003; Jones, 1997). It is evident that there is a need within community and academic spheres for pragmatic research regarding the contemporary identities of Métis people in Canada, as both understanding Métis identity and defining the term ‘Métis’ have become contentious issues since the Métis cultural revival that took place in Canada in the 1960s (Peterson & Brown, 1985). Métis scholars, politicians, and community members would agree that the questions of “Who is Métis?” “Who are the Métis?” and “What does ‘Métis’ mean?” are at the centre of contemporary Métis identity politics, however these are not easy questions to answer.3 These questions, and their answers are embedded in a historical context marked by shifting colonial policies aimed at the conversion, assimilation, and erasure of Indigenous bodies.4   A divide has emerged within Métis scholarship whereby Métis have become representative of either