When applying to UBCO, I checked the box asking if I considered myself Indigenous, and then clarified that I am Métis and white. Even though deep down, I felt afraid and shameful. In my personal profile essay, I wrote about how I want to pursue journalism. I wrote about my plans to represent individuals like me through journalism and other methods of writing, specifically writing about being Métis and about being transgender. I wrote about how my pursuit of education would help me evolve my skills to be able to write about said ideas.

Once getting accepted, my first plan was to apply for The Phoenix News, because I loved all the pieces I read after visiting the university during Destination UBC, thanks to the Indigenous recruitment team. Again, during my interview,  I stated my passion for writing in order to represent individuals like me (who are transgender and Métis). However, when I started classes and when I began writing more and more, I became closed off about my Métis identity. I didn’t bring it up in class, to any of my professors, to any of my classmates, to none of my co-writers.

I was scared of the questions people would ask, for example the usual, “what percentage are you?” or alternatively “what blood quantum are you?” or my personal favourite: “so like…are you REALLY Métis though?” 

It's hard to explain how these questions stem from colonial ideologies, and the reason I’ve never brought it up is because questions like that get asked all the time. I also don’t feel like explaining why these questions are bad to ask, when Google is so accessible. My cultural identity and ethnicity are both entirely different from my race; because of the shame I have, surrounding being Métis, I haven’t really been a part of these cultural conversations. 

When talking to other peers about being Métis, I will bring up the fact that I’m Métis, and they will immediately follow with, “Oh I heard that one famous girl pretended to be Métis,” as if that's at all what I’m like, and a huge misconception, resisting the urge to pull out my Métis card, issued by the Métis Nation of Alberta. Which, by the way, is ridiculous. I shouldn’t need an ID to prove my Métis heritage; I also don’t need to show anyone my family tree.

Even when writing this article, I would bring it up to other students. “I’m working on an article about being Métis and how I shouldn’t have to feel ashamed, and other Métis students shouldn’t have to feel ashamed either.” The students I talked to would laugh and ask why I would feel ashamed of being Métis, how there's certainly nobody asking me stupid questions about my heritage, which proves why I felt like I needed to write this article. 

While writing this article, I also connected with many of my Métis friends who expressed their frustration with being asked these questions and being asked to prove that they are Métis. They also expressed to me that they tend to not bring up the fact that they are Métis because of these questions, even though they want to feel pride in their identity. 

My connection with my Métis identity has never been a strong one. My family would go to cultural Indigenous and Métis events, knowing that being Métis is culturally different than being Indigenous. As a family, we smudged and owned Métis sashes, and celebrated our Métis heritage as much as we could. But, because I am also white, I never fully felt like my voice was welcomed in the Métis conversation, since I do not experience being Indigenous in the same way others do. However, my Indigenous identity does not rely on discrimination; it relies on culture, and my family history — which is mine alone.

As a white Métis person, I have the privilege of not telling anyone I am Métis, and nobody questioning me. I don’t “look” Métis, which is not to say there is a certain way Métis people look. However, I am white, and therefore benefit from white privilege. This is to say that I often hide my Métis identity, but this article is a step forward for me. I just realized that I want to be able to say that I am Métis, without having to justify it. Without having to explain that I can be white AND Métis. That I can benefit from white privilege, and still be Métis. That I can say that I’m Métis, without having to show you my family tree or my Métis Nation Card. But, I also acknowledge that because of my shame surrounding being Métis, and because I tend to avoid expressing my cultural identity, I don’t know as much about being Métis as I would like to. 

I don’t know about being Indigenous as much as I’d like to. So starting now, I’m reclaiming my voice and I will not hide my identity anymore. I want to learn more about being Métis, and my culture without feeling shame.

I want to bring up my identity in conversations in the classroom, without students and professors asking questions like, “what percentage are you?” or “what's your blood quantum?” or “are you really Métis?” I want to have conversations with other Métis students without feeling like people will accuse me of lying about being Métis, because “so many white people claim to be Indigenous these days.” I want to proclaim that I am white AND Métis, and that's okay. I’m Métis, and I won’t be afraid or ashamed anymore.