To Métis people, the words "community" and "family" are almost interchangeable. Métis view not only their blood relations as family, but friends, neighbours, workmates — these can all be part of what a Métis considers part of his or her family. In Métis culture, children are not solely the responsibility of their parents. The whole community shares in the task of raising the next generation. Elders, grandparents, aunts, uncles, trusted friends, leaders, other community members — all have their vital role to play shaping the future of our Nation.
This philosophy, bred into the bone over centuries, is often difficult for non-Métis to understand: in a time when families are fragmented, and one neighbour seldom knows another, it is not easy to envision a community where people know each other and are ready and willing to give aid when necessary and, further, usually know well when such aid is needed most. Yet such is the way of the Métis community. Family life in Métis society, therefore, means much more than the late twentieth century, neo-European vision of Father, Mother and 2.5 children. Rather, Métis families and Métis communities are interdependent identities, nurturing and supporting one another.
In fact, the Métis community, as is true with many Aboriginal communities, is supportive of differing family models that too often suffer the reprobation of non-Métis society: seldom is a second thought given to the inter-faith or inter-racial relationships that add their diversity to an already diverse tapestry.
Gay individuals were honoured in the past and known as berdache. They were acknowledged as creative artisans and craftsperson and were — and remain — very much an integral part of the society.
The Métis community, by its very nature and history, is an inclusive society. It is one of our community's greatest strengths. It is one of our Nation's most precious treasures.
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