RRC grads start the conversation on defining Métis identity

Janelle Wookey shows off the 100métis.ca site on her phone in the WookeyFilms studio on McDermot Street. THE PROJECTOR/ Marika Laczko

Janelle Wookey shows off the 100métis.ca site on her phone in the WookeyFilms studio on McDermot Street. THE PROJECTOR/
Marika Laczko

It’s a modern trifecta. Franco-Métis filmmaking team and siblings, Janelle and Jérémie Wookey are on a journey to get 100 videos from 100 Métis in 100 days.

The project called 100métis.ca will be an online archive showing videos from 100 young Métis Canadians talking about what it means for them to be Métis and to learn how to define themselves in today’s world.

“We want to keep the conversation going — make being Métis a relevant thing and make it clearer in people’s mind’s why it matters,” said Janelle Wookey, co-founder of WookeyFilms and a Creative Communications graduate. “I don’t really know why it matters 100 per cent yet, and that’s also why we’re on a journey to that figure out.”

The idea for the project sparked when the team went through some old footage. They found interviews of respected Manitoba Métis Elder and great-niece of Louis Riel, Augustine Abraham after she died last year. In the interviews, they found a question that hadn’t been used in any other project.

“What is your wish for the future of the Métis people?”

“Augustine Abraham was the unofficial godmother of the Franco-Metis community,” said Wookey. “She said that there was a youthful exuberance that was missing, and that she wanted to see more unity.”

100métis.ca is an attempt to fulfill Abraham’s wish and answer her call to action. And that answer calls on Métis people to find a new and interesting way to interpret their identities that makes it relevant in today’s world.

Jayme Menzies, a third-generation Métis, is one of the participants for 100métis.ca. Her video is featured on the project’s Facebook page. She said she’s known about her Métis heritage for the majority of her adult life, but didn’t start incorporating it into her identity until her first year of law school in 2010.

“100métis is doing the Métis culture a great service by allowing Métis people to define their own identity, culture and history,” said Menzies. “A voice is one of the most significant tools that aboriginal communities have been forcibly robbed of over the course of North American history.”

100métis.ca is part of WookeyFilms’ ongoing goal to tell the stories of the Métis culture and community. The production company is currently producing a one-hour documentary about the making of the project that will be airing nationally on the French-language channel Unis, later this year.

Menzies said she’s careful not to pressure her Métis friends and family to submit a video if they are not comfortable doing so.

“Part of the gift of identifying with a culture is making it fit your own life in the ways that you see fit,” said Menzies.