Long BEFORE Settler History
‘Kwe’ or ‘qey’ means ‘greetings’ in Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet/Malécite) and ‘pjila’si’ means ‘welcome, come in and sit down’ in Mi’gmaq. Sit down, listen and share oral tales that transfer knowledge from generation to generation and to those who ask to learn. FirstNations.ca describe storytelling as “… a traditional method used to teach about cultural beliefs, values, customs, rituals, history, practices, relationships, and ways of life.” Our settled history of just over 200 years pales in comparison to the long history of Indigenous peoples who have lived, travelled to, and gathered in the Metis area for thousands of years. We have a lot to catch up on.
We all know Indigenous people were in the land mass now called Canada, but how long ago? And what has been found in the Metis area?
Among the very first to connect with Europeans were the Mi’gmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet/Malécite). What can non-Indigenous people learn about and from them? It’s easy to find European-Canadian perceptions, but to learn more about the perspective of Mi’gmaq and Wolastoqiyik, think about visiting sites in the surrounding area.
For a number of reasons, there were few efforts by European settlers to understand or learn Indigenous ways of life, such as not over-hunting or fishing, and the importance of balance in the environment – practices we now know make eminent sense. Nor were Indigenous people given credit for traditional knowledge that helped keep early settlers alive, such as canoeing and portaging around dangerous rivers, and natural medicine, e.g., a tea of cedar that helped avoid and treat scurvy. In the late 19th and early 20th century, Metis also was where some city dwellers met ‘Indians’ for the first time: handicrafts were respected and bought for display and use in local homes and some interesting relationships developed.
Gertrude Bernard – Anahareo
Gertrude Bernard was awarded the Order of Canada – Canada’s highest civilian honour – in 1983 for her wildlife conservation work. Most know of her husband (not always in public favour) but not of Anahareo’s role at then Metis Beach in leading to a campaign that made the plight of the beaver and other wildlife known widely.
- Anahareo’s and Archie Belaney’s contrasting accounts of their Metis Beach experience (A fun read – excerpts of their respective books)
- Anahareo – A woman ahead of her time (Summary linked to detail)
- When Anahareo and Grey Owl came to Metis (Photos and philosophy by lifelong summer resident and former history teacher Kerry Martin)
- Archie Belaney – A matter of White and Wrong (Can an imposter, however well-meaning, ever be right?)