A request from Prince Rupert and District Metis Society to fly the group’s Infinity flag at P.R. city hall was sent to recognize Métis Awareness Week from Nov. 15 - 21. The Métis flag was raised over Trail’s city hall in 2018 to commemorate Louis Riel Day. (Black Press File photo, Guy Bertrand photo)

A request from Prince Rupert and District Metis Society to fly the group’s Infinity flag at P.R. city hall was sent to recognize Métis Awareness Week from Nov. 15 - 21. The Métis flag was raised over Trail’s city hall in 2018 to commemorate Louis Riel Day. (Black Press File photo, Guy Bertrand photo)

Metis Awareness Week in Prince Rupert Nov. 15-21

To be recognized is a big achievement: Robert Basso

Metis Awareness Week will be honoured in the city during the week of Nov. 15 to 21 as requested by Prince Rupert and District Metis Society (PRDMS) in a letter to the City addressed at the council meeting on Nov. 9.

“Our Culture and traditions are distinct from other Indigenous peoples of Canada and it is for the sake of our children that we do all we can to preserve it,” Joy Sundin president of the PRDMS said in the letter jointly signed by vice president Robert Basso.

“I encourage you to proclaim the week of November 15-21, 2020 as Métis Awareness week and to show your support by raising the Métis Infinity flags at Prince Rupert’s City Hall,” Sundin said in the letter.

While Prince Rupert City Council passed the motion to recognize the week honouring the Indigenous people, no mention of flying the flag at City Hall was made.

Basso told The Northern View on Nov. 10 this will be the third year that Métis Awareness Week has been recognized by the City of Prince Rupert and clarified the flag was not raised last year.

“They have been very gracious and set aside Louis Riel week for us,” Basso said. “We are appreciative that they do recognize the local Métis community and they are recognizing that it is an official group in Canada.”

“We are now considered one of the three indigenous groups in Canada along with the First Nations and the Inuit … so that is a milestone for us just to have that recognition,” Basso said.

READ MORE: Lest we forget – Stain on the flag

With more than 100 registered Métis in Prince Rupert Basso said they are trying to raise awareness of the organization to have more people register. PRDMS has received COVID-19 funds which it has been distributing to registered and identified members by way of gift cards and gas cards.

The organization has run art classes, beading classes, and during a past Christmas held a hugely successful dance class where local musicians and ballroom dancers attended, Basso said.

“I could not believe the response. A whole group of people came out and the place was packed and it was just an amazing success. The local Métis put it on to make our community aware that we are out there and trying to do good things.”

“A lot of events have been cancelled due to COVID. It has really complicated everything … but we do run interesting projects to make our local Metis aware of their culture. I think most of them are fairly proud to be members and it’s nice that Métis are getting recognition.”

“I think for us to be recognized as one of the Indigenous groups in Canada is a big achievement,” Basso said.

Metis Awareness Week umbrellas Louis Riel Day on Nov. 16. Basso said that Louis Riel was a ‘great guy’.

“Riel was all for democracy and equality. He was really ahead of his time in a lot of ways with his political thinking. He was looking out for his people, he was looking out for everyone,” Basso said.

“Louis Riel Day is a celebration of life and achievements of the great Canadian and politician, and serves to remind all Canadians that Louis Riel was a fearless advocate for the rights of Métis People,” Sundin said. “It is the day that Métis people in many parts of Canada celebrate our unique Metis culture and transitions and gather with our youth and children to share our ancestor’s stories.”

“Riel was a great leader of justice for Métis people and he is recognized as a pioneer in the campaign for Metis rights in Canada. Riel was executed for his defence of leading the Red River Resistance of 1869-1870, with his life ultimately sacrificed on Nov. 16, 1885,” Sundin said.

READ MORE: Metis Nation demands recognition by B.C.

K-J Millar | Journalist
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