Métis Nation exhibition launches at Library and Archives Canada

Hiding in Plain SightVisitors study a display of the new exhibition at Library and Archives

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) launched their latest exhibition, Hiding in Plain Sight: Discovering the Métis Nation in the Collection of Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa on February 11.

The display presents reproductions of paintings, photographs and documents pertaining to Métis culture and history culled from the LAC collection. LAC hopes the exhibition will raise awareness on the amount of historical Indigenous material they have and encourage people to look into their family history.

Guest speakers at the opening included Métis National Council President Clément Chartier and Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) President David Chartrand, as well as Anita Vandenbeld, Member of Parliament (MP) for Ottawa West-Nepean. Vandenbeld brought a message from the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

In the opening address, Librarian and Archivist of Canada Guy Berthiaume spoke of the history of the Métis following the uprisings in Red River in 1870 and in Saskatchewan in 1885.

“It was considered unwise and sometimes dangerous for anyone to identify themselves as Métis. The Métis lawyer, Jean Teillet, described a reign of terror which meant that survival for the Métis became synonymous with being invisible,” he said.

In his address, President Chartier shared his view on what persecution of the Métis brought to the preservation of their history.

“Even though it was negative in terms of how it was imposed on us and the results of it, [that history] has given us a lot of wealth, a lot of information, in the terms of genealogy. It actually helped us to begin reconstructing our history of our families.”

President Chartrand shared his pride in seeing the collection of documents pertaining to Louis Riel displayed on the second floor, which could be seen upon request. One document in particular fascinated him: a document signed by the Members of Parliament that includes Riel’s signature, despite the fact he was already a wanted man at the time.

“I get to see his name, his handwriting, it’s there. Imagine the difficult time he had to get here just to write his name, even though he had a price on his head,” he said.

Chartrand ended his speech with heartfelt gratitude.

“On behalf of my government and all of our people, thank you, thank you and thank you. As the Supreme Court said, our time has come.” Chartrand said.

The exhibition runs from February 11 to April 22, 2016. The LAC is located at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. For opening and services hours, please visit the LAC’s website.

Published on: February 19, 2016

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