Surrey, BC (December 10, 2021) – Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) has unveiled the name of the new made-in-BC Métis Culture and Language Institute, the Amelia Douglas Institute for Métis Culture and Language.
The decision to choose Ameila Douglas was one MNBC was very deliberate about. It was important to choose someone who spent time in Métis communities, lived and cherished our Métis culture and way of life, and had a connection to British Columbia. Amelia’s commitment to her Métis culture and way of life is an extraordinary example of cultural pride and resilience in a time where it wasn’t safe nor popular to be Métis or identify as Indigenous. Moreover, Amelia’s story of migrating west to British Columbia from the Métis homelands while holding on to her cultural roots and values is one that is familiar and relatable to many Métis people across the Métis Nation, and particularly here in BC.
MNBC made a $100,000 investment this year towards an initial business and feasibility study for a made-in-B.C. Métis cultural and language institute. As part of the business planning process for the Institute, MNBC connected with Métis citizens to hear about the programs and services they would like to see offered through the Amelia Douglas Institute for Métis Culture and Language.
“There is no shortage of ideas and aspirations for our future Institute, and I am very excited at the opportunities, “says Patrick Harriott, MNBC Minister of Culture, Heritage and Language. “Our intention is for our institute to be the central resource and key collaborator for all organizations and educational institutions wanting to access or learn more about Métis culture and language. We welcome and are excited for the opportunity to share our beautiful culture and Michif language with the public and to all those wanting to learn more.”
Throughout the engagement process, MNBC heard the importance of creating a physical space where community can come together to learn about our culture and language and attend workshops. MNBC also heard that having a strong digital presence is key, so that Métis people in all parts of the province can access cultural and language resources and take part in programing. Lastly, MNBC heard that communities want the ability to access exhibitions offered by the Amelia Douglas Institute for Métis Culture and Language in their own communities, highlighting the need to develop exhibitions that can travel and be shared across the province.
About Ameila Douglas
Amelia Douglas (maiden name Connolly) was born in 1812 in Fort Churchill or Fort Assiniboia, in what we now know as Manitoba. Her father, William Connolly, was a fur trader of Irish and French-Canadian descent and her mother, Miyo Nipay, was a Cree woman. Born to a fur trader, Amelia lived in trading posts during her childhood and adolescence. In 1823, Amelia married James Douglas, and moved to Fort St. James, a north central trading post located in what we now know as British Columbia. Amelia and James later moved to Fort Vancouver, and although she was viewed as an ‘Indian’ or ‘Halfbreed’ was given the name ‘Lady’ following her husband’s appointment as Governor of British Columbia. Despite her rise in the class structure of her time, Amelia stayed true to her culture and values as a Métis woman. Along with sharing the importance of kinship and family ties with her children, it has been recorded that Amelia remained connected and proud of her Métis culture through the clothing she wore, which was decorated with Métis embroidery and breadwork; the “country” foods from the homelands she preferred, the stories and legends she told her children, as well as the languages she spoke, which included Michif among several others.