By Chadd Cawson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On April 11, British Columbia announced with excitement they had been awarded a grant to develop a #MétisinBC Exhibition. This will be one of the first exhibitions developed as part of the Amelia Douglas Institute for Métis Culture and Language.
“We’re very excited to hear that there is some momentum and opportunity in creating education and awareness around who the Métis people are and our history in British Columbia,” says Columbia Valley Métis 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 Métis individuals what our history is, and who the Métis people are.”
The grant will support the research, engagement, development, and launch of a Métis in B.C. cultural exhibition that will be accessible to all members of the public at the Métis 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 Métis President Monica Fisher shares that there are a lot of misconceptions of who the Métis people are.
“Although all Métis are of mixed ancestry, not all individuals who are of mixed ancestry are Métis 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 Métis 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 Métis.” The Métis in B.C. exhibition will unveil the untold but not forgotten stories of the Métis communities that continue to mould and shape the history of British Columbia. The project will educate the public about the Métis in BC and their history. Another aim is to create and provide a place and platform for Métis community members to celebrate and share their heritage through a travelling exhibition.
MNBC will work with historians, Elders, Knowledge Carriers, artists, and Métis Chartered Communities to develop the exhibition, which will feature stories through both a contemporary and historical lens of Métis people and their communities across B.C. It will continue to build on MNBC’s #MétisinBC campaign which launched last November at the Virtual Métis Culture and Language Festival. “My hope is that through this exhibition that the public have a greater understanding of who we are as Métis,” says Fisher. “More importantly that Métis individuals see themselves represented in the history of British Columbia and find pride in that.”
An exhibition like this builds bridges between cultures allowing Métis people to share theirs proudly and others to experience and learn about it. If you are interested in contributing to the Métis in B.C. Exhibition or would like to know more about it, please contact the Ministry of Culture, Heritage and Language at firstname.lastname@example.org.