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Jean Teillet: Metis Collective Identity and Rights

Jean Teillet: Metis Collective Identity and Rights

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Who are the Metis people? The testimony of Jean Teillet before the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, May 2, 2012.

Who are the Metis people? The testimony of Jean Teillet before the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, May 2, 2012.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Lawrence J. Barkwell on Feb 06, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Collective Identity and Rights of the MetisThe Testimony of Jean Teillet
OTTAWA, Wednesday, May 2, 2012The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples met this day at 6:45 p.m. toexamine and report on the legal and political recognition of Metis identity[
Marcy Zlotnick, Clerk of the Committee:
Honourable senators, I see a quorum.[
]Honourable senators, as clerk of the committee, it is my duty to inform you of theunavoidable absence of the chair and deputy chair, and to preside over the election of anacting chair.[
]I am ready to receive a motion for an acting chair.
Senator Sibbeston:
I nominate my friend Senator Patterson.
Senator White:
I second that.
Ms. Zlotnick:
It is moved by the Honourable Senator Sibbeston that the HonourableSenator Patterson do take the chair of this committee.Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators:
Ms. Zlotnick:
I declare the motion carried, and I invite the Honourable Senator Pattersonto take the chair.
Senator Dennis Glen Patterson
 Acting Chair 
) in the chair.
The Acting Chair:
Thank you very much, colleagues. Once again, I am honoured toserve as chair.1
I would like to welcome the witnesses, all honourable senators and members of the publicwho are watching this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peopleson CPAC or on the web. I am Dennis Patterson from Nunavut, and I am happy to act aschair tonight.The mandate of this committee is to examine legislation and matters relating to theAboriginal Peoples of Canada generally. In addition, we have a specific order of reference authorizing us to explore Metis issues, particularly those relating to theevolving legal and political recognition of the collective identity and rights of the Metisin Canada.The earlier meetings on this study have consisted of briefings from various governmentdepartments, which have provided us with information, including facts on current federal programs and services, the status of Crown-Metis relations, general statistical informationand current legal issues, among other things.This evening, we are delighted to hear from two legal experts on Metis issues to providea legal context to the discussions.[
]But before we hear our witnesses, I would like to introduce the members of thecommittee who are here today.[
]Beginning with Senator Nick Sibbeston from the Northwest Territories on my left;Senator Larry Campbell from British Columbia; Senator Vern White from Ontario;Senator Nancy Green Raine from British Columbia; Senator Jacques Demers fromQuebec; and last, but not least, Senator Don Meredith from Ontario.Members of the committee, please help me in welcoming our witnesses. Before Iintroduce them, I spoke with our chair today who is unable to be here tonight because of  personal reasons. He did tell me, however, that we are privileged to have Ms. JeanTeillet, a lawyer with the firm Pape Salter Teillet, with us this evening. Our chair,Senator St. Germain, said that she is an eminent lawyer and that we are privileged to haveher. I welcome you on behalf of our chair and the committee. We also have Jason T.Madden, lawyer at JTM Law. Welcome.I understand that you each have individual presentations and that you would like to fieldquestions from senators as you proceed rather than at the conclusion of the presentations,which includes some maps and a considerable number of graphics. That will be a bit of adeparture from our normal procedure. Is that agreeable to members of the committee, thatyou feel free to ask questions as they come up? I will watch out for that so we can have adialogue going on as a result of this presentation.2
Also, we have received what they call in Ottawa a "deck" with mostly graphics on it andsome text that is in English only, and we have not had an opportunity yet to have thattranslated. Would the members of the committee agree to consider these documentstonight and refer to them during the presentation with the understanding that at the firstopportunity, the French translation will be completed and provided to committeemembers? Is that agreeable?
Hon. Senators:
The Acting Chair:
I will ask for the deck to be distributed. Ms. Teillet, please proceed.
Jean Teillet, Lawyer, Pape Salter Teillet, as an individual:
Thank you for the warmwelcome. It is nice to see some people I have met before here on presentations for other  people. I am delighted to come speak to you.I should say also that Mr. Madden and I are both Metis ourselves, so we come to thisfrom a lifetime of growing up within the Metis community. I am from St. Boniface.Actually, Senator St. Germain used to be a cop on the beat near my uncle Roger'sinsurance business. My uncle Roger was the Member of Parliament for St. Boniface back in the sixties and in the Pearson cabinet, and Senator St. Germain was a feature on our streets when I was a child. I have known him.
Senator Meredith:
We will not tell him.
Senator Campbell:
He is still a feature on the street.
Ms. Teillet:
I thought that I would start my presentation today with a bit of terminologydiscussion because the minute you talk about the "Metis," questions arise as to who these people are and what is meant by that. There are other terms that are contentious in thediscussion as well, one of them being "community" and the other being "people." Ithought I would set out what I mean by these terms before we start so that you know whatI am talking about.The deck that I gave you really only has visuals, and I will only point to them when I getto those particular things. My speaking notes will be translated later and passed out toyou.Today when I am speaking about "Metis," who do I mean? When I speak about them asindividuals, I am speaking about individuals who are the descendents of historic Metiscollectives. I am making a big distinction. "Metis" is a confusing term, let us put it thatway. It is confusing to everyone, not just people in government. It is confusing, and it became more confusing in the 1960s. Before that, the Metis were generally Riel's peopleout west. That is what most people understood to be Metis in French. In English, theywere the half-breeds, of course. In the 1960s, as people like Frantz Fanon started to writein Africa about the language of naming and as the African-American movement started inthe United States, people became very conscious of language, labels and naming. It3

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