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Voyageur Metis was formed because we felt the need for a registry that reflects who we are as Métis in our cultural community. We also want our organization to have transparency.
Our Director Anne was raised in a Métis family and community in Belle River, with ancestry from early Detroit, and is an advocate for preservation of culture and heritage. With almost 40 years of experience studying the genealogy and kinship ties of French Canadian and Metis families and communities, and their cultural presence in North America, she has written numerous articles and gives presentations on Métis identity and the importance of gathering our hidden families to document and preserve our culture.
Anne's indigenous ancestry includes fur trade Cree and Ilinois, Huron-Wendat, and Abenaki. Anne has known since early childhood of her identity as an indigenous person and her fur trade family history, and has been vocal about her family and community history since she was a child. She and her uncle play traditional fiddle at our yearly rendezvous while cousins and extended kin squaredance.
Anne is also a 3rd grand niece of Cuthbert Grant Jr., first leader of the Métis and initiator of the idea that the Métis had their own indigenous identity with a unique culture and heritage.
Based on a journal written in 1803 about one of Anne's other Native American 4th great Grandmothers and her fur-trading husband, she performs "living history" personification of her ancestral fur trade grandmother, giving her a voice to address what was written about her, and illustrating the social and political issues of being a Native woman in the fur trade.
Anne has also lead the creation of a Métis exhibit at a heritage site on the Ottawa River to honour Magdeleine Poitras and all Native women of the fur trade.
Our Director James is the co-founder of the French Canadian Cultural Alliance of the Great Lakes. He is the author of The Red Cedar blog and editor of the community journal, Voyageur Heritage. He has contributed to the Michigan Historical Review, Habitant Heritage, The Encyclopedia of Detroit, and Le Journal (the publication of the Center for French Colonial Studies.)
James is an advocate for traditional Great Lakes cultures. He understands 'tradition' to include evolving and dynamic ways of respecting our ancestral links to the modern world. His upbringing among an extended family of French-Canadians in Northern Michigan was enriched through storytelling, faith, music, food, and hunting. He was taught to respect nature's gifts. In these ways he was provided with a continuity of culture stretching back to his indigenous ancestors among the Illinois and Algonquin peoples and to the earliest days of French exploration in the Great Lakes. James sees the need for vigilance in maintaining traditional ways. He believes that the experience of previous generations who became disconnected from their heritage teaches us that there are many forces in the modern world which can quickly erode our sense of place and belonging. He writes: "Living and respecting our traditions is the only way to ensure that they will continue. Indigenous teachings of the 'seventh generation' and the 'seven fires' speak to the rekindling of culture and the return to ancestral ways of being as the way of the future. Traditional French Canadian/Métis culture has much to teach about maintaining cultural identity in the face of adversity, about respect for creation, and the path of cultural regeneration. We also have much to learn from and share with our First Nations brothers and sisters and allied European cultures."
James' elders are from Stoney Point and of course his Laforest ancestors were -- where else -- Peche Island.
Our Director Marie and husband Claude formed the Fiddle and Sash Association in 2006, to celebrate their culture.
From a small gathering at their home, it quickly grew to a large event requiring a hall and tents. Every last Sunday in May, Muskrat Metis come to this event and enjoy traditional foods, music, squaredancing and games. They also provide literature and informative displays. As more of the community became aware of this, Marie & Claude were asked to give presentations at different elementary schools. Students are allowed to handle Metis artifacts and it becomes very interactive.
In 2012, they were asked to represent the Metis at the London Western Fair. For the first time in 100 years, the Metis flag flew along with the other nations' flags.
Their work with Cancer Ontario and the Windsor Regional Hospital has entitled them to help medical staff understand the different needs of Aboriginal patients and adjust their procedures when dealing with them. They continue to help with health care studies and awareness in our community.
Marie and Claude continue to strengthen their ties with our Muskrat kin. Every year they have a Metis Christmas dinner and a roast in the marsh. When one of our people needs support, they meet to talk, cry and laugh. They mourn our members in the same way, with a communal gathering.
Claude is always researching our history and Marie does a great job at genealogy for anyone wishing to find their Native ancestry and obtain their Metis status.
Claude was born in Pain Court, Kent ON and lived there most of his life. His family were among the first families there. Marie was born in Tilbury North Township, Essex County, ON. Her mother's family were original Detroit fur traders. One of her father's ancestors helped build Fort Detroit.
Claude's family rarely spoke of FN ancestors but Marie grew up well aware that she was "half breed". Around 2000, Claude's family confirmed that they were descended from Antoine Descompte dit Labadie and Marie Sauteuse, confirming what Claude had thought to be true for all his life. He was Metis.
Our Chairman Sebastien (PhD University of Victoria) is of Métis and Québécois heritage (Michigamea/Kaskaskia). His roots go back to the fur trader communities of the Bois-Brulé people, evolving in the Great Lakes area that stretches between Montreal, Michilimakinac, Detroit and Kaskakias ("le pays des Illinois"). Dr. Malette has recently completed a postdoctoral internship at the University of Melbourne (Australia) as a SSHRC Fellow.
He is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa ON. Sebastien is interested in problematizing the relationships between Law and Indigeneity as both enabling and disrupting relations of domination affecting countries and communities with a colonial history. His research centers on Indigenous Law, Métis and dual-heritage studies, governmentality, environmentalism and decolonization.
Sebastien was previously at Kiuna College near Montreal, where he taught courses on Indigenous Political and Legal Issues in French and English. Involved in the Abenaki community of Odanak, Sebastien shares a passion for the revival of the Abenaki language. He is the proud father of two beautiful children.
Sebastien's ancestry is from Detroit and Kaskaskias.
Our Heritage Advisor & Archaeological Expert James Paquette is a true Native son of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is a direct descendant of the noted Anishinaabe/Métis/French
Rivière St. Joseph, Michilimackinac et La Baye fur-trading families of Ouaouagoukoue et Réaume/L'Archeveque/Chevallier/Marcot. Proud and ever-conscious of his traditional family upbringing and lifestyle, he is a Métis Elder and regional educator.
Widely recognized today as being one of the preeminent authorities on Upper Great Lakes archaeology, and with accolades too numerous to list, James has been conducting a personal spirit quest -- an ongoing archaeological field survey -- since 1984 to locate, document, preserve, and most importantly, to "learn from" early First Nation cultural sites in the central U. P. His unrelenting quest to uncover the missing knowledge of his ancestors' ancient past has lead him to make numerous significant archaeological finds in the highlands of Marquette County, most notably being the landmark discovery of the earliest evidence of human occupation in the U.P. that provided us all with the knowledge that Paleo-Indian families were already living in this northern-most region of Michigan near the end of the last Ice Age some 12,000 years ago.
He serves his Native ancestors as an ardent Protector of their ancient sites, and as a Caretaker of the cultural artifacts -- the gifts -- that they left for us as messages to learn about their lives. As such, he has always been an outspoken advocate for First Nation and Métis cultural resource recognition, respect, and preservation within the state of Michigan. He is a Certified Native Paraprofessional Archaeologist and has served as a Cultural Resource Management Specialist/Consultant/Trainer for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community's Tribal Historic Preservation Office.
Above all else, James' greatest passion in life is his love for his family, within which he and his wife Karen continue to maintain traditional Native family values and a Great Lakes Métis lifestyle so that their children and their grandchildren will truly understand the vast importance of respecting, honoring, and enjoying this sacred land that is beneath our feet, for it is made up of the very dust of our ancestors -- just as we are ourselves.
Our mandate is to share our culture and heritage, by gathering our hidden families, sharing information and practices, and then of course, at our Metis Rendezvous and other gatherings, we practice our culture with food, music, dancing, activities & displays, and we celebrate together!
We also study and share cultural information to document our commonalities and differences. We have a great team of researchers that have gathered archival and other documents that not only prove our perpetual cultural practice, but also allows us to examine similarities, and to rejoin the fragments of our language, song, stories, etc.
Our other main goal is to share ancestral information with our families.
We believe in sharing this information so people and families can affirm their identity with certainty and registry to prove it. And they can know which part(s) of their family that ancestry comes from, so they can inform other family members about the proven documentation of their Native ancestry. We know that every family has a fragment of our culture at risk of being lost. Gathering our families is therefore important for all of us. Every story, every thread is used to reweave a fabric that has been torn by generations of fear, shame and hiding.
If you think you have native ancestry and need help with your family tree, even if you are not part of our community, our group of expert researchers can search for records for your native line (for a small fee), and if found, we will provide you with any information we have. And even if you don't have our community kinship ties, we may help steer you toward where you need to inquire for membership. We believe that every Métis should feel free to stand up and be counted. Finally.
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