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The Enduring Impacts of Colonial Violence:
One Person's Experience

Linda Cauchy
Métis Women's Circle
January 24, 2024

This was an unusual summer. I kept waiting for it to arrive. The weather was cool and wet for the most part which greatly reduced the hours I spent reading on my dock. As a consequence, I only got part way through Jean Teillet's superbly researched and widely accessible book, "The North-West is our Mother", (2019). Only part way through and I was haunted by the often disturbing scenarios she describes about Metis life and the violent colonial clashes of the mid to late 1800s. At the same time, I was experiencing a significant amount of insecurity and feelings of threat due to some questionable changes proposed by a developer around where I live. I expressed this to a close acquaintance and she suggested that we do something about it. I was quite surprised by what we discovered. This acquaintance is a practitioner of complementary medicine, including osteopathy and Neuro Emotional Technique (NET) and her idea of "doing something about it" was to examine the nature and origin of my perceived sense of threat through a session of NET. NET is perhaps not well known so before I tell about the outcome of this session, let me give you a brief backgrounder on NET.

In the 1970s and 1980s the scientific community began to recognize that emotions felt by humans had significant and long lasting impact on the body; the mind and body were not separate entities and stress could greatly impact our overall health. Neuropeptides (amino acid chains) and their receptors were found to carry emotional information that was stored in the neuroreceptors. Stored, unresolved emotional responses could be triggered by life events, producing physical and/or emotional responses such as pain, anger, grief, or fear similar to what was experienced at the time of the original event. Through combining techniques and principles from acupuncture, chiropractic, traditional Chinese medicine, and applied kinesiology, NET was developed by chiropractors Dr. Scott Walker and Dr. Deb Walker (see netmindbody.com). NET is not promoted as nor considered a cure for what ails a person but rather as a method of removing emotional memory blockages in order that other wellness techniques or therapies (e.g. meditation, chiropractic, osteopathy) may have improved results. NET is currently pracitised by over 10,000 certified practitioners in over 30 countries worldwide.

My session was guided by my involuntary physical/muscle memory response to a series of probing questions aimed at locating, in time, the original event(s) causing my stress. In this technique, time is fluid and not constrained by one's actual physical presence- i.e. from birth onward. In essence, this technique embraces the concept of intergenerational trauma, a reality experienced by many Indigenous people. In short time, my muscle responses to the questions revealed that what I was presently experiencing was a reaction to events that occurred well before I was even conceived! My muscle responses revealed that I indeed felt threatened and insecure at my home. When the practitioner asked me to explore why I felt this way and if I could verbalize any of these feelings, it was as if the floodgates opened.

For context, I am Red River Metis and my kinfolk were the people who organized against colonial rule, resisted the colonial expropriation of their homes and territory, and suffered greatly the consequences of their actions. My ancestors were not a naïve group of people easily tricked and manipulated. No, they originated with the fur trade linked to the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company and were well versed in the ways of business and self-government. They knew how to organize, solve problems, and keep the peace. So how is it that the Metis communities were decimated and reduced to that of the dispossessed "road allowance people"? Although popular Canadian history is shamefully silent around Canada's treatment of the Metis and their consequent plight, it is no secret that my Metis ancestors were deliberately targeted and persecuted by an unrelenting succession of inept colonial Governors, Company officials, and leaders of the Catholic Church, acting on orders from their superiors (i.e. John A. Macdonald!) or on their own whims fueled by prejudice and corrupted by power and greed. This deliberate deception, use of violence, and betrayal was the means to an end of eliminating the Metis people and the obstacle they posed to colonization as Canada expanded its growth and dominion. So, with the floodgates open and in no particular order, I began to describe to my practitioner some of the strategies and tactics of displacement and elimination the colonial entities employed and the constant threats to safety the Metis endured.

The Metis were a mobile group of people. They lived in tight knit communities along the Red River and in the valley during the growing season, spending the hunting season at wintering sites on the vast prairie. During their absence from the Red River (and even at times when still present), government land surveyors would arrive with orders to divide up Metis land in the British rectilinear fashion with total disregard to Metis ownership and occupation patterns. The lands were being prepared to give to colonists imported and transplanted onto Metis land. Sometimes resistance was rewarded and the surveyors chased away, but ultimately the Metis were displaced, their land stolen and subsequently occupied by waves of settlers of various European descent.

Far from lawless, the Metis had little use for colonial laws and social norms as these imported constraints were in conflict with the Metis worldview of freedom to live, to trade, and to self-govern . Many years of the growing Metis movement to assert their territorial and self-governing rights lead to increasing violent disputes over trade routes, trading partners, land ownership, and colonial expansion. The most horrific period of Metis persecution is the Reign of Terror; a period well documented in newspapers and reports of the time. Sent by the Canadian government to oversee the "peaceful" transition of ownership of Rupert's Land to Canada, the British army Colonel Garnet Wolseley arrived in the Red River with 1200 armed soldiers and volunteers. The arrival of this Red River Expeditionary Force (RREF) triggered years of arson, assault, rape, pillage and murder inflicted on the Metis with the equivalent of colonial kangaroo courts meting out justice and punishment to the offenders from Ontario and Quebec. Fear and insecurity became a constant for the Metis.

In 1870 the province of Manitoba was created, becoming the fifth Canadian province. Government efforts to remove the Metis and clear the way for "desirable" colonist intensified, now using the tool of Metis scrip. Metis scrip, described as North America's biggest land swindle , was the mechanism by which the Metis could acquire legal title (understood as the colonial definition of legal) to their land; it was essentially an underhanded, complex, and confusing process of government sanctioned theft. A scrip document for either land or money was provided to the Metis head of the household who showed up at a land office, often a tent set up on the prairie, in exchange for their land rights. Usually illiterate, the document would be read to the receiver and signed by him with an X. From that point onward, the land scrip owner could attempt to navigate the long drawn out, convoluted, and ill-defined process of actually redeeming their scrip to acquire a piece of government ascribed land, deliberately far from traditional Metis territory and kin. Already a beleaguered people, many Metis became victims of fraudulent opportunistic speculators and through manipulation, deception, and desperation, lost their scrip. These Metis became land-less. Many chose to migrate to current day Saskatchewan or Alberta where Canada had not yet exercised its greed, hostility, and disrespect for the Metis way of life. Many stayed and became the invisible dispossessed people of the prairie.

As I recounted this historical Metis experience, my acquaintance was shocked and horrified; she asked out loud, "how could I not know this?" I could simply reply that we Metis were the forgotten people. Forgotten or not, the residual scars of my ancestors were surfacing and causing me present day stress. It was a relief to know the origin of my very real feelings and to be able to acknowledge them and put them into perspective. In no way was I subject to the same type of threats as my ancestors (absolutely insignificant when compared with what they lived with) but their fear, pain, and insecurity percolated through the generations. This new awareness allowed me to differentiate between present day stressors and past aggressions thereby enabling me to make reasonable decisions around the actions I would need to take to remedy my situation. I thanked my acquaintance for this enlightening experience and she thanked me.

Linda Cauchy

For more information on NET see Drmarylourane.com at



March 27, 2024 Trees are Good Medicine
January 24, 2024 The Enduring Impacts of Colonial Violence
September 25, 2023 Loon Summer
April 29, 2022 To Apologize
April 28, 2022 Developing Healthy Water Routines
April 25, 2022 Water is Not a Noun
May 12, 2021 The Flower Beadwork People
May 1, 2021 Good Riddance Beyak
April 1, 2021 Another Day in Paradise
March 1, 2021 All My Relations Matter More Now Than Ever
January 21, 2021 "Look Out The Window, Quick"


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