Chief Sidney Peters (left) and President Clement Chartier sign a memorandum of understanding in Halifax in this supplied photo. (Source: Crystal Dorey, Kwilmu’kw Maw-klusuaqn Negotiation Office) HALIFAX — The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs and the Metis National Council say they are concerned by the growing number of people "misrepresenting" themselves as Metis.
In a new memorandum of understanding, the groups have agreed to co-operate on the issue, and work together to educate the public about what they call "legitimate Metis Nation and Mi’kmaq issues."
Chief Terrance Paul, assembly co-chairman, says the only Aboriginal rights holders in Nova Scotia are the Mi’kmaq.
Census data show the number of people who call themselves Metis soared nearly 125 per cent in Nova Scotia from 2006 to 2016, according to Statistics Canada, with dozens of new Metis groups cropping up over the same period.
The proliferation of self-reported Metis has emerged as a divisive debate.
Efforts by the new Metis to claim Indigenous rights and use identity cards that appear similar to Indian Status cards fuel a perception that the Aboriginal newcomers are so-called rights grabbers.
"The right to determine our own identity and citizenship is at the heart of our self-determination and self-government in our historical homeland," Metis National Council president Clement Chartier said in a news release Wednesday.
"It took decades of struggle for this right to be recognized by the federal government and Supreme Court of Canada and we defend it vigilantly."
Yet people who call themselves eastern Metis argue that a distinct mixed-heritage people existed in the region with a shared history and culture. They say these mixed-race people were compelled to identify as white for fear of discrimination.
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