“Who are you?” The stranger asked. “Me? Who am I? That is a good question. To what extent do you want to know?” I responded. The stranger looked at me very confused.
When I was a kid, my answer would be quite simple. I could simply respond that I am Ted. But who am I really? Each day I discover more and more about who I am. No, I am not psychotic. (Well maybe a little) What I mean is that each day I learn more and more about myself, and even more, where I came from.
To say that we are who we are because of where we came from may seem a bit elaborate, but if you think about it, it makes sense (at least to me it does). For instance, a few years ago, I figured I knew everything about my family and its history. After working to discover my roots, I discovered that my family originally came here from France, Sailors who jumped ship in what was then known as Acadia, and met and married up with the Mi’Kmaq who lived there. My ancestors became what is now known as Acadians.The Indians taught the newcomers how farm, and to live from the land. I also learned that at some time afterwards, those people were driven from their homes and their land by the English, and the families were split into three groups. One group ended up in Louisiana, and became known as Cajuns. One group went to England, and the other settled in the province of Newfoundland. At this point, I knew that I had a strong French heritage. My family name was LeBlanc (later changed to an English derivative of that name) and there was nothing left to discover.
Further research told me that not only did I have a strong French heritage, I am also 1/5 Mi’Kmaq. That one fifth may not seem like a whole lot, but it was enough that I received my status as a part of the Qalipu Mi’Kmaq Band. With this new status, my family will receive free health benefits and possible business grants, as well as a number of other benefits. What we won’t receive is anything related to land claims. That was part of the deal when someone signed the agreement. We became Canada’s first Landless Band.
When I was a kid, I used to love watching all those John Wayne westerns. I used to cheer for the cowboys, especially when they shot the Indians from their horses. Now I have to go and re-watch all these old shows, this time cheering for the Indians.
The funny thing with this new Indian Status is that it is all the rage here on the island. A few years back, if someone referred to you as an Indian, you beat the hell out of them, now it is a privilege. I guess it is how you look at it. If there were no money or benefits involved, I wonder how many Indians would live here on the island?
So there you have it. The stranger now has quite the answer on his hands. “Who am I?” I would say; “I am Ted. I am part french, part Indian, and part Newfoundlander. I am also part Canadian (but only since 1949, but that is a different story), and I am all mean..so buzz off.” With that, the stranger went on his way.