Starting on November 10, Golden will be acknowledging Metis Week, a week dedicated to the recognition and celebration of Metis heritage and culture.
“It just makes us feel proud to be recognized like that,” said Golden resident Paul Ricard. “We know who we are and we know what we’ve done in the building of Canada and it’s just nice to be recognized for that fact.”
In Golden, Metis roots run deep, dating back two centuries. It was actually the Metis who originally settled Golden, with Baptiste Morigeau being the one who gave Golden it’s name. Nobody knows this better than Ricard.
“Francois Morigeau came to the Columbia Valley in 1819 with his Metis wife, and his son, Baptiste Morigeau is my great great grandfather,” said Ricard. “We do have a long native and Metis history here in the Golden area. The Metis here are very strong.”
For Ricard, along with the rest of the Metis community, acknowledging Metis week is an incredibly important gesture.
“It’s very important, you know the Metis are one of the three Aboriginal societies in Canada under section 83 of the Constitution, along with the aboriginals and Inuit,” said Ricard. “They weren’t white, and the weren’t Aboriginal, purely, so they had to form their own society and their own communities and their own culture, so it’s very important.”
The Metis haven’t always been a recognized society. That recognition didn’t come until 1987. The history of the Metis has long been fraught with erasure and discrimination, which Metis Week hopes to alleviate by raising awareness. Ricard has some ideas on how locals can participate in Metis Week and educate themselves on Metis issues.
“Listening to the stories, talking about it, you know. Just getting involved and just talking,” said Ricard. “Recognition is what it’s about. I don’t think the Metis are looking for anything much, it’s just looking for being recognized as who they are.”
Metis Week is an opportunity for many within the community to finally feel as though their culture has been acknowledge and respected.
Throughout the week, there will be several events throughout Golden. Ricard himself will be giving a speech on the 15. There will also be an opportunity to attend a blanket ceremony, and other events that will help recognize Metis heritage in Golden.