In 2007-08, the Métis Centre engaged with three different communities to collaborate on traditional knowledge activities. The Métis Centre was particularly interested in documenting the process to highlight methods used to engage Métis in research processes to inform debate about ethical practice of doing research with Métis.
Michif Revitalization in a Manitoba Community
In July, 2007, Tricia Logan, Métis Centre field researcher, took part in a grassroots Michif language immersion program in Camperville, Manitoba, a traditional Métis community, led by Elders Grace Zoldy and Rita Flamand.
Along with studying one of the most endangered Aboriginal languages in Canada, Tricia researched the efficacy of her hosts’ innovative teaching methods, as well as the impact of language revitalization in a Métis community. The research collaboration involved extensive consultation with Grace and Rita to develop ethical protocols and formalize a long-term working relationship for undertaking research on the Métis language.
Transmitting Tradition at the East Prairie Métis Settlement, Alberta
In 2006, James Lamouche, NAHO research officer, collaborated with Albert and Alma Desjarlais of the East Prairie Métis Settlement on the development of tools and supports for the transmission of traditional practices in Métis communities.
A culturally-based camp was envisioned as a way to bring together Métis Elders and other knowledge holders with the goal of passing on practices to future generations.
Designed as a total immersion experience, the inaugural camp was held in the summer of 2007.
The project provided an opportunity for the Métis Centre to conduct field research, including the documentation of challenges inherent in the transmission of traditional knowledge in a contemporary context, and a study in the feasibility of establishing ongoing and sustainable activities and programs in Métis communities.
Traditional Knowledge Pilot Project at Kelly Lake, B.C.
In July, 2007, Michael Fisher and Joyce Seto, Métis Centre research officers, visited northern British Columbia to work with the Kelly Lake Métis Settlement Society, a chartered Métis community of the Métis Nation British Columbia, on its traditional knowledge pilot project, created in response to concern about how resource development is changing the landscape of their traditional territory and, consequently, about how traditional knowledge is not being passed on to the younger generation.
Throughout the summer of 2007, the community organization ran a wilderness-style camp to pass on traditional knowledge and cultural teachings to Kelly Lake youth.
Métis Centre researchers, working in partnership with Kelly Lake leaders, explored the community’s contemporary approaches to promoting history and traditional culture. An important outcome of the project was the development of a framework for the discussion and implementation of ethical guidelines for research involving community members.
In the Words of Our Ancestors: Métis Health and Healing
The 2002 Métis Health Policy Forum identified a real need to bring Métis Elders together from throughout Canada to discuss Métis-specific traditional health knowledge. With guidance from members of the Métis Centre’s member organizations, a number of Elders were identified to participate in a series of Métis Elders’ gatherings held between 2003 and 2006. A total of 21 participants who self-identified as Elders, seniors and/or healers attended.
The purpose of the gatherings was to recognize, share, protect, affirm, use and revitalize Métis traditional health and healing knowledge and practices. The Métis Elders stressed that awareness of historical, cultural and Aboriginal language perspectives is necessary in order to better understand traditional cultural protocols. The following themes emerged from the discussions:
- Ancestral wisdom about Métis health and healing.
- Living Michif.
- The importance of Métis women and families to community health.
- Land and water as central to Métis health and wellness.
These gatherings provided the Métis Centre with content and guidance for health research, as well as helped to build a dialogue on conducting Métis-specific research. In the Words of our Ancestors: Métis Health and Healing is based upon the wisdom and stories that were shared at those gatherings.