The Métis community has overcome many barriers while living in Winnipeg and the city is taking steps toward reconciliation.

"My family historically have always been proud Métis, arriving in Manitoba in the mid-1700s," says Andrew Carrier, the Vice President of the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF).

According to Carrier, the term Métis came from the French settlers. 

"We have our own language and culture and were made in the Northwest angle of Canada at the time, which is Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta."

In 1982 the Métis secured Indigenous rights in Canada and now they are one of the three official Indigenous parties or groups in Canada, including the First Nations and Inuit. 

A Rough Past Between Métis and Government

"The banks wouldn't deal with us and the law chased us out of our home," says Carrier. "The reality is that the Métis community from 1901 to 1960, the city of Winnipeg painted Rooster Town as a group of unworthy individuals. They were Métis and not allowed to participate with the rest of Canada."

Carrier shares that during that time period, the land the Métis community was living on was deemed more valuable than the people themselves. 

"They were systematically removed. One of the ways is the city claimed they didn't pay their taxes. One of the strategies was to not accept the taxes. It was a strategy that they used under the law to manipulate the law and regulations in their favour."

The area is now Lower Fort Garry but back then there were 250 homes with Métis families living in them. 

"One by one they were eliminated and picked off because they couldn't fight back. They didn't have the resources or money to hire lawyers and society just banished them."

The term 'Rooster Town' was the joke of the city, according to Carrier, in the sense it's where the Métis lived. The Métis called the area 'Pakan Town.'

"Historically the Métis were promised land, however, the records show the land from 1869 was never really transposed to the Métis. Other groups received it because it was deemed more valuable than the Métis themselves."

Story of Racism and Abuse in Carrier's Family

"My father lived in St. Boniface," says Carrier. "He's a short man with dark skin and Aboriginal looking."

At the age of 13, Carrier's dad was walking home from a friend's house around 8:00 p.m.

"The city of Winnipeg Police stopped him, picked him up and wanted to see if he had his permit to be off the reserve. He was trying to explain in his best English that he was Métis. They threw him in jail for the weekend with adults."

Carrier's grandparents didn't know where their son was before he was released on the following Monday. 

"It was a big joke. Can you imagine the fear my father went through to be thrown in jail with adults? This is just an example of the targeted racism that the Métis have suffered for the colour of their skin."

Growing up Carrier remembers not wanting to admit he was Métis for fear of being targeted and bullied by the school system as well as fellow students. 

"Only now are we coming out of the dark and coming into the sunlight in a sense of regaining our pride as Métis."

Moving Forward

"The fact that we received an apology last September from Mayor Brian Bowman is the first step in recognizing the harm and impact from that time."

Carrier says people today remember being chased out of their homes in 1960 by the Winnipeg Police, in which after doing so, they bulldozed the houses.

On the evening of August 23, 2022, the City of Winnipeg recognized the renaming of Rooster Town Park as the commemorative name for the park located at Pan Am Pool (25 Poseidon Bay). Councillor John Orlikow was joined in recognizing Rooster Town Park and unveiling a historical marker with the support of former residents of Rooster Town or as the Métis call it, 'Pakan Town.'

"We have regained our voice and we have a better understanding of how the law works. We're in a better position economically to say 'Hey this was wrong.' We're regaining our cultural identity and the pride of being Métis."