By Chadd Cawson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On April 11, British Columbia announced with excitement they had been awarded a grant to develop a #MetisinBC Exhibition. This will be one of the first exhibitions developed as part of the Amelia Douglas Institute for Metis Culture and Language.
“We’re very excited to hear that there is some momentum and opportunity in creating education and awareness around who the Metis people are and our history in British Columbia,” says Columbia Valley Metis President Monica Fisher. “We honour that we are visitors to this land but believe it is important to share with the general public as well as our Metis individuals what our history is, and who the Metis people are.”
The grant will support the research, engagement, development, and launch of a Metis in B.C. cultural exhibition that will be accessible to all members of the public at the Metis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) head office in Surrey. It will also be offered throughout the year at various regions and community centers across B.C. Columbia Valley Metis President Monica Fisher shares that there are a lot of misconceptions of who the Metis< people are.
“Although all Metis are of mixed ancestry, not all individuals who are of mixed ancestry are Metis which can be confusing.
Therefore, education and awareness are so necessary and important,” expresses Fisher. “Belonging and identity are so important in the human experience. In this time of truth and reconciliation we all must learn our individual histories and heritage, while celebrating each other’s with honour and respect.”
Colonization was once successful in keeping the Indigenous in the shadows, shares Columbia Valley Metis President Fisher. “I meet many people who were raised in denial, but with proper education people become proud, and with pride comes belonging and identity,”
she adds. “I’m thankful I was always raised with understanding who we are as a people. I’ve always been proud to be Metis.” The Metis in B.C. exhibition will unveil the untold but not forgotten stories of the Metis communities that continue to mould and shape the history of British Columbia. The project will educate the public about the Metis in BC and their history. Another aim is to create and provide a place and platform for Metis community members to celebrate and share their heritage through a travelling exhibition.
MNBC will work with historians, Elders, Knowledge Carriers, artists, and Metis Chartered Communities to develop the exhibition, which will feature stories through both a contemporary and historical lens of Metis people and their communities across B.C. It will continue to build on MNBC’s #MetisinBC campaign which launched last November at the Virtual Metis Culture and Language Festival.
“My hope is that through this exhibition that the public have a greater understanding of who we are as Metis,” says Fisher. “More importantly that Metis individuals see themselves represented in the history of British Columbia and find pride in that.”
An exhibition like this builds bridges between cultures allowing Metis people to share theirs proudly and others to experience and learn about it. If you are interested in contributing to the Metis in B.C. Exhibition or would like to know more about it, please contact the Ministry of Culture, Heritage and Language at chl?mnbc.ca
Chadd Cawson is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of THE COLUMBIA VALLEY PIONEER . The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Turtle Island News does not receive LJI government funding.