For Gayelyn Heffernan, Louis Riel Day offers an opportunity to reflect on her journey of discovery and learning about her Métis heritage.
“I knew I shared Indigenous heritage on my mother’s side, but I didn’t realize I was Métis until I began researching my ancestry in 2015,” said Gayelyn, a councilor with the Peterborough and District Wapiti Métis Council and a Métis rep on Trent’s Indigenous Education Council. “My family, like many Métis families, didn’t talk about their heritage, preferring to assimilate and ‘fit in’.”
This hidden family heritage has sent Gayelyn, and many other Métis people on a journey of discovery, reconnecting to their cultural heritage and history, leading to a Métis cultural resurgence in Canada.
“I have been actively pursuing opportunities to learn about my heritage, and I consider myself to be proudly reconnected, but still on a journey of discovery,” Gayelyn explained.
Recognizing Louis Reil
November 16 is Louis Riel Day, a day of commemoration and celebration by Métis people across Canada.
“We remember Riel’s advocacy for Métis people. He was a champion of equal rights and social justice. I’m very pleased with the relationship the Métis Nation has developed with Trent. I see the work being done by the University as an extension of Riel’s advocacy, and an extension of his dream of promoting the rights of Indigenous peoples, including the Métis.”
To learn more about Louis Riel Day, visit metisnation.org.