Dispossessing Metis: David Parent, Governing Metis Indigeneity: The Settler-Colonial Dispossession and Regulation of the Metis in Mid-Twentieth Century Manitoba, PhD dissertation, University of Alberta, 2021


Abstract: Bringing together the fields of Critical Indigenous Studies, settler-colonial studies, and governmentality studies, this dissertation seeks to methodologically trace the dispossession of Metis from lands in Manitoba throughout the mid-twentieth century by placing these dispossessions into the multijurisdictional and socio-historical context. In the first half I engage dominant Canadian historiography in order to trace out a broader governing apparatus that possessed technologies of education, employment, immigration, and health aided in normalizing the dispossession of predominantly racialized populations by settler-colonial populations and their municipal apparatuses. The second half of the dissertation focusses on original archival research. I engage nineteenth century Metis historians to genealogize the formation of Manitoba’s provincial apparatus which formed the basis for the establishment and proliferation of municipal apparatuses in Manitoba throughout the former half of the twentieth century. I trace the maneuvering between federal, provincial, and municipal apparatuses in governing Metis in Manitoba through various agricultural programs meant to increase the overall health and security of the settler-colonial population, as well as through social welfare reports that sought to identify and recommend how to ‘improve’ Manitoba Metis. In the final chapter, using my own historic Metis community of Minnewaken as a case study I demonstrate how the Rural Municipality of Coldwell dispossessed Metis residents who went from owning 4000 acres of land in 1915, to 10 acres of land in 1970. I trace this land dispossession through an engagement with local histories and municipal tax-rolls, by-laws, and council minutes. Taxes and by-laws, I argue, were key technologies of municipal apparatuses that rationalized and realized the dispossession of Metis from Minnewaken. A key emphasis of this dissertation focusses on illustrating the ways in which municipal governments, in particular, came to represent significant vectors of Metis land dispossession during this era.

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