DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: Searching's situation (the woman whose relatives will not talk about her aboriginal heritage) really struck home with me. I too, prompted an older relative to start a family genealogy, which indeed exposed my Métis heritage, which my father hid from me growing up.
My ancestors were Scottish and were early settlers here, but I am Métis. This has triggered a lot for me personally, including feelings of shame for not knowing my true heritage, or helping the aboriginal community, watching while they suffer, not knowing that my blood flows within them as well. We are all Métis people.
Please tell Searching to obtain a long-form birth certificate, which lists both of her parents' full names. Then, take it to the Centre du Patrimoine at the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain (204-233-4888). For a fee, they will do a complete genealogy search and uncover her great-grandmother's name, and other material.
Then, bring the results to the Manitoba Métis Federation (204-586-8474) at 150 Henry Ave. and get an application from the MMF. They will issue a Métis card if Searching has 1\16th of aboriginal blood; it sounds like she does. Encourage her to hang out at the MMF, make friends there, and see what she can do for her identity issue. -- A Proud Métis, Winnipeg
Dear Proud Métis: Thanks for taking the time to offer all this concrete help and support. It will be very much appreciated by the woman who wrote and the many others you will help as well.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: The letter from Searching really hit home with me. She can go to many places in Winnipeg for further information. The Manitoba Genealogical Society (MGS) at 1045 St. James St. is the first stop the letter writer should make. Another place to start could be the Métis Culture and Heritage Resource Centre (204-956-7767) at 410 McGregor St.. There's also the Hudson Bay Archives, The Anglican Diocese of Rupertsland and The Latter Day Saints at www.ancestry.com. -- Hope This Helps, Winnipeg
Dear Hope This Helps: Thanks! You have saved a lot of steps for many people out there who are also searching.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: A DNA test can reveal markers of person's heritage. Places do this at reasonable rates these days. -- K.M., Manitoba
Dear K.M.: A lot of this is happening in the United States where people's ancestors were brought over as slaves from other countries. They can find out the area they came from through a study of their DNA. Searching might want to look up www.dnaancestry.com, which is a sub-section of Genetrack Canada (www.genetrackcanada.com). It is primarily slated towards paternity testing, with a section at the bottom addressing your interest in older ancestry. Tests can cost between $120 and $200-plus depending on what you want.
A Genetrack Biolabs notation on the same website says they are located in Vancouver and offer the toll free number 1-888-828-1899.
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6