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Métis Senators

Keeping traditions alive



G randmothers and grandfa- thers have kept our tradi- tions alive and fresh in the minds of people. Some of these cherished elders have taken on the additional role of “Senators” of the Métis Nation of Ontario. They have not done this for glory or fame, but rather with a greater understanding of the need to keep our traditional ways, our stories and our music alive. They have, by their dili- gence and patience enabled us to advance the cause of the Métis people and the Métis Nation.

How often have we heard

about “the good old days”, or “that’s not how we did it”? This concept has to be balanced with present day realities. Our ances- tors were not distracted by the trappings of the modern age. Some of us remember gathering around radios, while others did not have that luxury. How then do we maintain our traditions, our culture and our beliefs in a fast-paced society that is caught up in the “me” rather than the collective heritage?

The guardians of our heritage and the compass for our future are the Senators, but even we

must stop and reflect upon what we are doing and what lessons we are giving to those who follow us. Like our First Nation ances- tors, the Métis are a communal people, more interested in the collective than the “me”. It is this sense of identity that makes us who we are as a people and as a nation.

Our Senators are there as a beacon to our communities. They should be the pillars of strength that all can look to for advice. They hold the collective knowledge of the people, and they must help guide the coun- cils when asked to do so.

While we honour our First Na- tion’s past and our European roots, we must not fall into the trap of neglecting our own her-

itage developed by our Métis an- cestors. We must be ever mindful that we are neither First Nations nor European. We Métis hold a unique place in Canadian society and in the consciousness of the Canadian people.

I am honoured and humbled to be among such giants within the Métis Nation. I encourage frank and open dialogue amongst our Senators, and the earnest sharing of our knowledge and heritage. I challenge our elected council officials and the officials of the PCMNO to tap into this great resource available to them—our Senators. We are the teachers of our future.

Have a blessed, healthy and happy summer!



I think it’s fair to say that most of us, at one time or another, have given some serious thought to our origins: our Métis ancestors, our First Nation ancestors, and our European ances- tors. From time to time the Voyageur has published stories about this search for iden- tity from a number of MNO citizens.

In particular, we have been following Métis veteran, Donn Fowler’s quest.You may recall that in addition to searching offi- cial records, Donn has jumped into the newest form of genealogical research: DNA.

One must be courageous to take this plunge, but Donn is courageous; after all, he’s a Métis vet.

Below, are a summary, an update, and a request that anyone who has information that might be related to Donn’s quest share it with him. dmf@metalex.com

I have taken the liberty of pointing out some clues from Donn’s work that may be of use to people who are just beginning the exciting, but challenging investigation into their ancestors.

  • Linda Lord

Searching our DNA for Métis ancestors

By Donald “Donn” Fowler

M y first known European ancestor in North Amer- ica was Jacob Corrigal (b.1775, d.1844) who re- tired from Rupert’s Land in 1840 to the “Province of Canada”, and to a hamlet within the “Township of Hamilton” in the Newcastle district.

He was a former commis- sioned officer, "chief trader" of the HBC, and the son of Magnus Corrigal and Marion (Anderson) Corrigal of Evie and Rendall Parish, Orkney, Scotland. Jacob's older brother, William Corrigal, also became indentured with the HBC. However, according to a confirming record obtained from an Orkney archivist (see #1 be- low), Jacob was born in 1775 not 1772 (see #2 below). This means that when he became indentured at Stromness, he lied about his age. He was not 18 years old, but rather 15. Nevertheless, the HBC recorded his age as 18. So, the Corrigal brothers left Scotland in order to get into the lucrative fur- trade business.

Unfortunately, William, his na- tive wife and his aboriginal

(mixed-blood) children were slaughtered by starving Eastmain natives who wiped out the entire William Corrigal family at Hannah Bay, south of James Bay in the winter of 1832. The desperate "Indians" were seeking food, which was in very short supply at William Corrigal's HBC Post.

Fourteen years prior to this tragedy, Jacob had named his only son after his older brother, William. Jacob and Mary Corrigal had six children: Ann (husband, William Nourse); Charlotte (un- married); Mary (husband, Robert Scollie); Elizabeth (unmarried); Catherine (unmarried) and William, who died a bachelor in 1890.

Jacob Corrigal died in 1844, but it took ten years to sort out his substantial will. Finally, the Honourable James Bruce, the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine who was at that time the Governor General of the Province of Canada intervened. Neverthe- less, the self-appointed adminis- trators as principals, and others involved, managed to deny Jacob Corrigal's named beneficiaries ac- cess to their own father's will and estate, which remains extant to-

day as a "Heritage".

It now appears that in the 1840s, any mixed blood children, were considered "Indians" and therefore were not eligible to in- herit chattels or other real prop- erty (see #3 below). That fact is a recent acquisition achieved through an extremely long re- search process, thanks to the as- sistance of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and to Ontario Archives Toronto (OAT). All of the six Jacob Corrigal children were of course--in our modern terms "Red Flag Métis"--but re- grettably they all died completely and needlessly impoverished, be- tween the years 1890 and 1909.

These four Corrigals were ap- parently twice interred: first with their father and later two bodies in each of two registered but un- marked graves (see #4 below) in a south-western Ontario commu- nity.

Now for the DNA Jacob Corrigal’s Native wife was born in 1788--probably quite near Lake St. Ann. By 1802 that Native girl, with the anglicized name of "Mary" had become Ja- cob's wife. Mary's Native maternal parent is as yet unknown, except

genetically as haplotype A2k1. Lake St. Ann later became known as "Lake Joseph" but today it is known as “Lake Nipigon”, and flows into the Nipigon River which flows into Lake Superior.

Lake Nipigon has had a few distinctly indigenous hap- logroups (see #5 below) located around its shores during the past many centuries. The mtDNA (mi- tochondrial DNA XX, females only, chromosome), the A2k1 haplotye could likely be readily determined today in the Lake Nipigon area. However, a truly positive identification of Mary Corrigal's birth mother and her other direct native ancestors would require determination from one or more of today's liv- ing Native female's around Lake Nipigon. Mary Corrigal's own known genetic identity of HVR1, HVR2 and their coding regions, which respectively are eight markers for HVR1; ten markers for HVR2; and finally, an addi- tional 23 numeric references for the coding Region. Our at-hand verification certificate is num- bered N68801 for the A2 haplo- type which is for a basic “Indian” (see #6 below), determined

through several weeks of genetic classification work done at Hous- ton, Texas in 2009.

I hope that many more of our own Aboriginal relations can muster the ambition to see Mary Corrigal's grave site, and her stone marker, at the old Martin Falls location. It is quite a journey of 50 miles up the mighty Albany River. (It's much slower going up river than it is coming down.) I believe there have been some ad- venturous canoeists who have seen Mary's grave site.


1 Be prepared to seek help from profes- sionals. 2 Dates may be wrong, even when they come from seemingly reputable sources. 3 If no records of ancestors can be lo- cated, it may be because they had been identified as First Nation or Métis. 4 If you suspect that an ancestor was buried in a particular cemetery, but there is no marker, check with the cemetery superintendant. Purchased plots will be recorded and there will be a record of how many are occupied and by whom. 5 You can learn more about haplogroups on-line. 6 www.genealogywise.com /group/Na- tiveAmericanmtDNA

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