Métis have their say in new survey

Respondents would like to explore culture

Métis residents of Moose Jaw showed what they value in the community through an online survey, the results of which have just been released.

“Moose Jaw has strong Métis heritage. I don’t think a lot of people know that. I’m just really happy to be a part of the community coming together and growing,” said Angela Blondeau, author of the needs assessment report and graduate student at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Regina.

The examination was conducted for Southern Plains Métis Local 160 to find out what the Métis community is interested in.

There are an estimated 1,280 Métis people in Moose Jaw, according to the 2016 census and about 95 individuals answered the survey. Blondeau said her group maximized the resources they had at their disposal and that the survey may act as foundation for the Local to build on.

“If we had a bigger team implementing the survey, we could have potentially reached more people with a paper version of the needs assessment survey,” said Blondeau. “I’m satisfied that the 95 responses provide the Métis Local board with a start on community engagement.”

The 95 participants’ ages ranged from 10 years old to 82 years old with the median age at 49 years old. Of the 95, 35 identified as male, 39 were female and two checked other.

A significant number of participants showed interest in technical education and skills programs. Blondeau recommends the Local follow up with respondents to find out what specific programs they are interested in.

“I also suggested that they reach out to Gabriel Dumont Institute because they provide such a broad range of education and training programs for Métis people,” said Blondeau.

A majority of respondents expressed interest in Métis cultural, heritage, history, arts and crafts and wanting to learn about Métis Aboriginal rights. There was also a strong interest in learning more about the culture such as jigging, beadwork, story telling and learning Michif, the language of the Métis Nation.

According to Blondeau, the high interest can be attributed to Métis people now having chance to reclaim their culture, as individuals and communities in southern Saskatchewan were oppressed for many years.

“I think people now recognize it’s a much more safe time than it used to be to be Métis. Métis people couldn’t even go to public schools until 1945,” Blondeau said. “A lot of people in Saskatchewan and in Canada are not knowledgeable about the systematic marginalization of Métis people. We as Métis people are reclaiming our heritage and rebuilding our community to be strong and to be proud and to ensure that our heritage and our culture can be thrive throughout the coming generations.”

Respondents also demonstrated a strong interest in associating with other Métis individuals at cultural and social events. Of the 95 individuals, 20 said they would be interested in the Local contacting them, identifying valuable skills and abilities they can share with the community.

Respondents in general said they want to gather as a community and share food, while 18 people indicated they would be willing to assist with organizing community events.

Racism was identified as a concern for a significant number of respondents. Thirty-eight per cent said definitely yes and 11 per cent said no when asked if racism was a problem that concerned them personally. Blondeau said it’s not a surprise, as racism in the area is no new thing. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) formally thrived in Moose Jaw within the last hundred years, disbanding only in the 1920s.

Respondents said they want elders to have opportunities to socialize and that a number of participants have health issues that prevent them from participating in events.

“I recommended to the board that when they host community events that they think about what types of accommodations people might need so that they can be supported to come out and enjoy the activities in the community,” Blondeau said.

The board has accepted the report as is. Blondeau hopes the group uses the data to seek out funding to support new activities.