The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled we have to give Winnipeg back.
In a ruling that could cost tax payers billions of dollars, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the Metis were wronged and that Canada failed to live up to its promise in the agreement that brought Manitoba into the Canadian Federation in 1870.
The government's apparent main defence was that it happened more than 140 years ago and today's taxpayers should not be financially responsible for an apparent wrong from seven generations ago.
The court decided in favour of the Metis.
It was Queen Victoria who demanded, as part of her agreement to transfer Rupert's lands to Canada, which had been purchased from the Hudson's Bay Company, 1.4 million acres of land along the Red and other rivers in Manitoba were to be given to the 7,000 Metis children, as a head start in the future development.
There is a great deal of discussion about how many got what useless land, but within another generation, 90 per cent of whatever land it was had been squandered.
Lisa Shepherd, local president of the Golden Ears Metis Society, told me she was hosting a presentation by genealogist, Ms. Katerick, this past Sunday at the Bonson Community Centre, about how to fill out the registration to obtain Metis citizenship.
Lisa, along with the hierarchy of the BC Metis Association, were not sure how to answer my questions about who is Metis and how the distinction is determined.
They indicated that, if you believe you are a Metis, then you are.
Their view is, "It is about preserving the culture."
It must be. Who else would want to live in a city that has a ditch around it and big insects that eat you?
In trying to understand the significance of the Supreme Court ruling and its repercussions, I reached out to one of the best representatives this community has ever had, our past member of Parliament, Reform (one of a kind) Senator Gerry St.
Germaine, who is a proud Metis from Winnipeg.
He is appearing this week as a witness in the Senate discussions including who is Metis.
I thought they were all French.
Gerry informed me the French were "Michifs," and the Scots were "Half-breeds."
"Metis" means: mixed blood. OMG! I may be one of them!
This becomes a slippery slope.
In the early 1900s, several southern states in the US passed laws that said one drop of Negro blood was enough to make you black.
Currently in Hawaii, the members of the Hawaiian Nation claim that, if you have one drop of Hawaiian blood, you have the right to liberate the islands.
I cannot imagine what the qualifications are going to be to be recognized as Metis, but as long as they only want land in Manitoba, I think the answer should be, "Yes!"
The Senator told me the true Metis that we are having this discussion about are the descendants of the people from the geographical area where the culture and government existed before 1870 - people like Cuthbert Grant and Louis Riel.
In hindsight we realize that, in their minds, they were just standing up for their rights against the Hudson's Bay Company and got a promise from Queen Victoria that has not been honoured.
- Gordy Robson is a former Maple Ridge mayor and a local businessman who was raised in this community. His opinion column appears Tuesdays in the print and/or online versions of The TIMES. Questions and reactions can be emailed to Gordy c/o editorial@ mrtimes.com.
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