Leading up to National Indigenous Peoples Day, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Grand River Métis Council (GRMC) and Waterloo Region Museum partnered for a screening of the documentary Women in the Shadows, which was followed by a panel discussion and question and answer session.
The event was one of three that took place at the museum, highlighting Métis, First Nations and Inuit films. Women in the Shadows was shown on June 18. The film, released in 1991 by the National Film Board of Canada, was directed by Norma Bailey and was written and filmed by Christine Welsh. Her intent was to create the film to help her reconcile with her Métis past.
Filmed in Saskatchewan from the Qu’Appelle Valley to Hudson Bay, the documentary traces the filmmaker’s quest for her Métis foremothers in spite of her relatives’ reluctance to speak about their Métis roots. The film articulates Métis women’s experiences with racism in both a current and historical context, and examines the forces that pushed them into the shadows.
After the viewing, David Neufeld, Education Coordinator at the Waterloo Region Museum, held a panel discussion with questions from the audience. The panel included MNO GRMC President Jennifer Parkinson, Councillor Diane Kilby and MNO Veterans’ Council Senator Guy Mandeville.
The discussion was informative for many in the audience, who learned that Métis hid their identity after the Northwest Resistance of 1885, for fear of being branded traitors to Canada. The landmark inclusion of Métis in Canada’s Constitution in 1982, helped bring increased acceptance and pride. The Métis Nation across the homeland continues to negotiate with the federal and provincial governments for their rights, recognition and to advance reconciliation.
Though the film was made in 1991, the discussion showed how relevant it is still. It is eye opening and brings to the forefront why many Métis didn’t talk about their ancestry.
All Métis present at the event expressed pride in the Métis Nation and thanked the Waterloo Region Museum for their support during the National Indigenous Peoples Day presentations.