Al"Now we're more accepted. But one thing that bothers me is we're not accepted by the government. It's hard when they say you don't exist. You pay taxes… you exist. We're not interested in money or land, we're retired – we had jobs, we paid taxes and contributed… I'd like to see us be recognized. I'd like to see that before I die. We want the government to say “Yes, there were Métis in NB.” There still are. I think it's worth fighting for."

[This interview, conducted by Marilyn Walker, took place at Mount Allison University, on January 20, 2010.]

Marilyn: Thank you for coming to Mount Allison and for agreeing to be interviewed for the Métis project. Can you tell me about yourself to start?

Al: I'm retired. I was a Corrections Officer for 26 years in New Brunswick. In prison, whites were hard to deal with; the Métis and Natives were quiet. Where I worked, they knew I was different. I told them I was Acadian – for the sake of not being harassed. Native People knew I was Native/mixed – how I walked, operated, talked…

Al 2One of my head bosses was Native from the States. He asked me one day where he could get a salmon… I said “Sobeys”. I didn't tell him I was Native, but he knew… My mom never let us talk about being Native. She had a really hard time and they put salt in our well, broke windows. They didn't want us to go through the same thing they went through. My dad used to say he was Irish – better treatment! But he didn't know when he enlisted that the English didn't like the Irish!

Natives on the Reserves don't want to associate with us because they're afraid to lose what they have.

Even my name was changed… Allison Martin is my name now. Aleçon was my baptism name. I didn't know until I went to get my baptism papers. My father changed it when he went overseas… I've just left it as what he changed it to, Allison. [And it's not a common name for a man… I go by “Al”. Allison is a very common last name but not a common first name.]

Marilyn: When did you start to identify yourself as Métis?

Al: After I started doing research on it, I knew I was different. Our lifestyle, everything was different. And people treated us different. That was just before I retired as I had more time. It took a lot of time to find my ancestors. It was all hidden; nobody wanted to talk about it. I was brought up Catholic. We were the first French family and first Catholic family when we moved to Fredericton when I became a Correctional Officer.

Marilyn: What would you like to see happen in the Maritimes?

Al
: Now we're more accepted. But one thing that bothers me is we're not accepted by the government. It's hard when they say you don't exist. You pay taxes… you exist. We're not interested in money or land, we're retired – we had jobs, we paid taxes and contributed… I'd like to see us be recognized. I'd like to see that before I die. We want the government to say “Yes, there were Métis in NB.” There still are. I think it's worth fighting for.