Something happened today, something cool First some background.
Many, many years ago, when a Canadian aboriginal woman married someone outside of her band, whether this man was European or Metis, she would lose her status as an aboriginal. She would, officially, no longer be considered an Indian. And neither would any of her descendants. Conversely, if an aboriginal man married a woman who wasn't native, he never lost any of his status. And neither would his descendants. This denial of rights was only applied to women.
My grandmother was one of those women. She married a man who wasn't part of her band, who didn't have treaty status, although the amount of native blood in him was pretty high. But she lost her status, she lost any benefits she might have gained from that status. So her children were never considered status natives and neither were their children. Although many of my relatives suffered discrimination and racism because of their outward appearance.
However, only many years ago, a suit was launched to reverse this discrimination. And the women won. They were given their status back and so were some of their descendants. Only one generation aftewards. So my grandmother got her status back. Officially, she was a real Indian. And my father, once he decided to apply, got his. He was now a real Indian too.
In late Fall 2011, the Canadian government passed Bill C-3, which further improved the situation. Another generation was added to the mix. Even though my father married a French Canadian, it was possible that I might get treaty status. In truth, I didn't really need status because in my heart, I was an aboriginal person. My story as a native Canadian was as valid as any others. But I applied anyway. Just to see if I could. I thought I wouldn't because of my mother but if it was my grandfather who married a European woman instead of my grandmother, I would already have status, regardless of who my father married. So I had a chance.
And it turned out, I did qualify. A letter arrived in the mail today telling me that I had official treaty status; that according the Canadian government, I was a real Indian. Like I said, I've never needed official proof to accept myself as an aboriginal person, but it was real nice to get the letter. And soon, a treaty card. I still have to apply to my father's band, The Norway House Cree Nation, to be accepted as a member of the band. And I will because that is where my people come from.
In the end nothing will change, if Norway House accepts me. Except my bio. Instead of saying I'm just an aboriginal writer, it will be more specific, saying I'm a member of the Norway House Cree Nation. Which is really neat considering all the crap my grandmother had to go through.