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We have received many calls from people who applied for registry with other groups and either didn't get what they paid for, or didn't get accepted and therefore lost their application fee. Some of them found out only after sending in their money that they applied to the wrong group, as they felt the information on those organization's websites was not warning enough. We cannot force other organizations to have accountability, so we have therefore compiled the following frequently-asked questions with answers, to help you understand these common issues. Our advice -- don't pay anything to an organization until you have read the following:
Q. I got a card from another organization but they didn't give me any results so I don't know who my native ancestors are.
A. Before you apply to any group or ask for any research, make sure you know what they will give you for results. Some groups might advertise they find your results but read the words carefully, as they might not actually provide anything back to you.
At Voyageur Metis, our goal is to share information so you can share this with your cousins. Yes, we actually do help you find your Native ancestors with actual records we send you. Other groups don't.
Contrary to what other groups claim, most ancestral records are not part of the "privacy act" and can be shared. If you're reading that they can't give you info due to the privacy act, this is only partly true. Giving ancestral records that are before a certain time period is not only legal, it is the same as any other genealogist's results you would get if you hired someone to do your tree.
Not only that, but the privacy act includes a clause that states it does not apply to aboriginal groups for the purpose of making a claim, and that would include claiming Native American ancestry for the purpose of proving someone is Metis.
Q. I applied for a card with another group but I don't know how I got my card.
A. Perhaps ask yourself these questions before handing your money to anyone -- If you were applying for a passport, would they give you one if you didn't have to prove you are the person applying? Did that group require your legal birth record that includes the names of your parents on it? Did they ask you to prove you are a blood relative of the Native line they did a search on, by asking for birth and marriage records for each person in that line? Do you think you could prove in a court of law that you are Metis if you didn't supply this information to get your card and they didn't give that information to you once their "research" was completed?
If you do not have your own legal records to prove that each generation descends from the previous one, then how many other people were also not required to do this, within the same group? A group that does not ask for proof does not have a solid registry, so their card is meaningless.
All groups are different, and do not share information. They are not connected to each other. They do not share databases and they do not share funding, so if you apply to the wrong one, you will not get your money back. You need to find out which group to apply to before you send any money.
Q. I applied to the wrong group and they refused me. Why can't I just be accepted into the right group when I apply?
A. Because there are different organizations that represent different types of Metis, depending on your ancestry and culture, you need to apply to the group that fits your line. If you have applied to the wrong group, you will not be refunded the application fee as it covers the time needed to check your application. Groups do not share information so they will not transfer it to another group. You might still be able to get Metis Status with another group, depending on what proof you have so it's better to know which to apply to beforehand.
Accountability in our community means several things:
We will not share your personal information with anyone, and we will not store your personal information in a place that is retrievable by outside sources.
We encourage responsible posting, in that the information presented is from our family experience and not based on someone's idea of what it means to be a Native American.
We focus our efforts on preserving our family stories and traditions, by gathering to celebrate our culture together, documenting our stories, songs, language, etc and through our team of researchers, finding archival documents for our communities, proving that we have existed and still exist with a perpetual culture that remains in our families and communities to today.
Our families have gone through generations of hiding, and yet our ancestors helped build the economy of this continent, allowing all people to enjoy it as we do today. Their hard work during the first international economy, that of the fur trade, has largely gone unnoticed and unrecorded, and has been made possible by the sacrifices of our ancestral Native grandmothers.
Every time one of our elders passes on, without feeling secure enough to tell their stories about growing up as a hidden Metis, we lose part of our heritage. We have always had the right to exist, and to express who we are, in our own traditional ways. It's time we all stand up and be counted.
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