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Darryl Leroux @DarrylLeroux
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ICYMI - Maisonneuve magazine is publishing an article that I wrote about the anti-Indigenous/white supremacist origins of 2 largest "Québec métis" organizations in its next issue, out @ newsstands TOMORROW! Follow along for a sneak peek 😉

maisonneuve.org/news/2018/09/6…
"In October 2004, a small group of hunters gathered in a large tent in the Chic Choc Mountains, south of Gaspésie National Park. Raymond Cyr, the director of an organization that delivers education for people with physical disabilities, had joined his cousin Marc LeBlanc, ...
a hunting and fishing guide, for the moose season. A tourist haven in the summer, the region becomes a hunting and fishing destination when the leaves start to turn. Rugged four-wheel drive and all-terrain vehicles, fully loaded trailers and weathered campers crisscross ...
the network of old logging roads off the winding path of Highway 299, which cuts through the stark limestone cliffs of the Cascapédia River valley. The Cascapédia is a world-class Atlantic salmon river. Since the final years of the nineteenth century, private lodges on ...
its banks have attracted a steady clientele of elite fishermen, including the likes of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise, as well as Bing Crosby, Jimmy Carter and Paul Newman. The region’s reputation has expanded still further since the early nineties, when a nearby ...
area of the Chic Chocs close to the Grand and Petit Cascapédia Rivers became popular with moose hunters from the Gaspé Peninsula and further afield.

LeBlanc had been active in the area since 1992. But as the cousins sat in their tent together that fall day, ...
twelve years later, they faced a quandary: an agreement in Gaspésie between the provincial government and the Gesgapegiag Mi’kmaw community would set up a Mi’kmaq-controlled territory which would offer outdoor activities for a fee [...] Under Gesgapegiag’s plans, ...
the territory would include an interpretative centre and hiking and horseback-riding trails, as well as outfitting services such as guiding, accommodation and meals.

The chief of Gesgapegiag at the time, John Martin, explained in a regional news report that ...
the project aimed, in part, to decrease pressure on the local moose population by managing the number of hunters in that area. In 2005, 102 moose had been killed in the territory of the proposed project—7 by Mi’kmaw hunters, and the remaining 95 by non-Mi’kmaw hunters. ...
“Québec is a huge province where Québécois hunters can find other hunting spots while being in their culture,” Catherine Johnson, official spokesperson for the Mi’kmaq, said at the time. “But Gaspésie is the traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq…
It’s here that we’ve lived for millennia, it’s here that we speak our language… We must stay here, develop here, and work here if we want to preserve our Mi’kmaw history and culture.” The agreement had been officially in the works since 1999; by the time of Cyr and LeBlanc’s ...
hunting trip in October 2004, it was receiving substantial media coverage. If it went forward, it would join nearly seven hundred other privately operated outfitting territories in Québec [T]hroughout the process, the Gesgapegiag negotiators had insisted that the project ...
was central to their efforts to reconnect with their historical territory and build their economy, as it would employ about 20 community members. Nonetheless, many locals were angry. At community consultations about the project, the atmosphere was heated; ...
Johnson says that there were plainclothes police officers seated in the crowd, and, at one point, an angry audience member attempted to grab the microphone out of her hand.

Cyr and his hunting group were also upset. Facing the possibility of either having to pay a fee ...
to access the territory or having to seek a new hunting territory—and already annoyed by the incursion of logging into the area—Raymond Cyr developed an alternative proposal. He, LeBlanc and a small group of hunters who hunted on adjacent territory had a habit of meeting ...
in a communal tent every evening during the short moose season to discuss the day’s hunting. During one of their nightly get-togethers, according to court documents and the recollections of 3 people present who spoke to Maisonneuve, Cyr suggested that members ...
of the hunting party claim an Aboriginal identity. Each, after all, likely had long-ago Indigenous ancestry—scholarly estimates in historical demography reckon that a majority of the descendants of early French settlers have at least one Indigenous ancestor. ...
And in Cyr’s case, he says, he was sure that he did; his family had always talked about it.

But Cyr’s plan was met with some disbelief, as one fellow hunter, a police officer named Benoît Lavoie, expressed skepticism: “We’ve never had rights, only Indians have had rights, ...
us, we don’t have any,” he said, according to court documents. Cyr boldly responded with four fateful words: “Read the Powley decision.”

Within 18 months of their initial discussion in the tent, LeBlanc incorporated an organization he called the Gaspé Peninsula Métis ...
Community (GPMC). Under that name, the group began lobbying against the Mi’kmaw project. “By following the right approach, there might be a way to obtain an injunction against this project (Aboriginal outfitters),” LeBlanc told a local newspaper in July 2006. ...
“We’re going to tell the federal government that we have Métis people in Gaspésie and that our territory is currently being stolen. We’ll ask the Government of Canada to give us time and the financial means to survey the number of Métis, write the history of the Gaspésie ...
community, and stop the outfitters project.”

Before long, the GPMC’s intervention as an “Aboriginal” people and the group’s broader political opposition had succeeded in slowing down the progression of the Mi’kmaw project, which was eventually shelved by the government. ...
Buoyed by this early success, the GPMC rebranded—twice—as both the Gaspé Peninsula, Lower St-Lawrence, Magdalen Islands Métis Aboriginal Nation (GPLSLMIMAN) and the Métis Nation of the Rising Sun (MNRS). Over the years, it became a 20,000-member strong “Indigenous nation,”...
as it called itself in court documents, claiming territorial rights to a large swath of the North American continent.

That was still just a harbinger of things to come. Twenty-five such organizations representing self-identified “métis” people in Québec have been created ...
since 2004, about 20 of which were still active as of summer 2018. Data collected from organizational records and media reports show that 10 of these organizations alone had at least 42,000 members by the end of 2017. They charge between $30 and $260 for first-time members ...
(excluding any additional fees associated with genealogical research services), and subsequent annual membership fees usually run in the range of $30 to $40. According to financial records obtained through court documents and public updates to members, the bulk of the funds ...
these organizations raise are spent on lawyers’ fees and other costs associated with court cases. The MNRS, for example, raised over $110,000 in annual membership fees in its 2011–2012 fiscal year, and a whopping $312,188 in 2015–2016; in a letter to its members dated December...
20, 2017, “grand chief” Benoît Lavoie explained that in the previous ten months alone, the organization had spent over $68,000 on lawyer’s fees, bringing the grand total to over $340,000 since its inception in 2006.

Québec is often celebrated as a “genealogist’s paradise.”...
I know this firsthand after researching, as an academic, my own family tree in Québec. I know something else firsthand as well: some of my family members have talked about claiming Indigenous identity, even though it turns out their branch of the family tree includes no ...
Indigenous ancestors whatsoever. Interested in whether others were doing the same, I began in 2013 to dig through thousands of pages’ worth of court documents, membership records and local media reports to trace this growing urge to self-indigenize, and understand what it meant.
The movement, I’ve found, is more than a benign bit of historical revisionism or quirky reconciliation-era misunderstanding. Many of these groups have mobilized a little-known court decision to oppose the hard-fought hunting and territorial rights of Indigenous nations ...
across Canada, particularly in Québec. And some even owe their origins to explicitly anti-Indigenous, white rights activism."

Read on in the next issue of @maisonneuvemag, available tomorrow at newsstands and bookstores!
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