The True Canadians Podcast

For over two centuries, the Métis have fought for recognition as an Indigenous people and as a Nation. It’s a story worth telling, but until recently, it hasn’t been heard enough.

The True Canadians podcast is based the book of the same name, and refers to the fact that the Métis truly are people born of this land — well before Canada became a country of its own.

Host David Wylynko is a media consultant, writer, and former journalist. He grew up in the Winnipeg suburb of Fort Garry, not far from the actual Fort Garry, where the Métis first set up a provisional government in 1869, and he’s had a lifelong fascination with the Métis. 

While he and his co-author, Patricia Russell, a Métis writer and former CBC journalist, were touring the country to promote the book, they discovered that readers wanted to know more about the people, places, events, and milestones featured in the pages of The True Canadians. A podcast seemed to be the best way to share what they learned. So they invited some of the personalities they wrote about, and some new voices, to tell more of their stories.

Each episode digs deeper into the important roles the Métis have played — and are continuing to play — in the evolution of Canada. Listeners will get to know the leaders, the artists, and the executives who are defining what it means to be Métis in the twenty-first century, and hear about the ongoing campaigns to win recognition, forge a stronger sense of community, and advance genuine reconciliation with other Canadians.

Original music for the podcast was composed and performed by Metis fiddler Alex Kusturok. Each episode begins with the words of the late Métis leader Jim Sinclair, delivered at the closing of the 1987 Meech Lake negotiations in Ottawa.

The podcast is available on most podcasting platforms, including:

Latest episode:

“A Way into Canada”

In the fall of 2003, in what would become known as a “watershed” moment for the Métis, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that when Steve Powley and his son Roddy shot a bull moose 10 years earlier near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, they were exercising their Métis right to hunt, as protected by section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982. In the fourth episode of The True Canadians – the Podcast, Métis lawyer Jason Madden characterizes the decision of the top court in the land as a “sea change” that would set the Métis on a journey to many other legal successes.

The episode is the second of a special two-part segment that host David Wylynko recorded with Madden, who in part one examines Métis progress in negotiating self-government agreements with Canada in recent years. In part two, Jason traces Métis political history and the struggle for what he calls “a way into Canada” that culminated in Métis recognition in the Constitution Act of 1982. Madden explores the significance of the first ministers’ conferences convened in the 1980s by then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, the Supreme Court Powley decision of 2003, and of other milestones in the ongoing Métis journey toward a true nation-to-nation relationship with Canada.

Previous episodes

“Lucy and the Legal Lacuna”

In the third episode of The True Canadians, host David Wylynko talks with Métis lawyer Jason Madden, who practices Aboriginal law with a focus on Indigenous rights litigation and negotiations, including the negotiation and implementation of self-government agreements, modern day treaties, and reconciliation-based agreements.

A graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and called to the bar in Ontario, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, Jason is a partner at the law firm Aird & Berlis LLP and Co-Leader of the firm’s Indigenous Practice Group.

Jason was born and raised in northern Ontario and his large Métis family—the Calders—are a part of the Northwest Ontario Métis community, which collectively adhered to Treaty No 3 in 1875 as the ‘Halfbreeds of Rainy Lake and River.’ Over the last 20 years, Jason has been legal counsel to Métis communities and governments in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, including acting as counsel in Métis harvesting rights case and appearing in all the cases dealing with Métis rights before the Supreme Court of Canada.

In this episode, Jason undertakes a wide-ranging discussion about inherent Métis rights and self-government, which have become particularly topical in the mainstream media in recent weeks due to major developments in federal legislation currently before Parliament about Métis self-government known as Bill C-53 and a major Supreme Court decision over an existing federal law about Indigenous child and family services, both of great importance to the Métis. Jason talks about how these pieces of legislation will help extract the Métis from the “legal lacuna” (legal gap) they have experienced for generations, and how they will lead to ending the pattern of governments making promises and overtures to the Métis only to pull away the proverbial football as Lucy so famously always did to Charlies Brown in the cartoon “Peanuts.”

Setting up youth for success

From her small home community of Lac La Biche, Alberta, to the academic halls of the University of Calgary, to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Rebecca Lavallee has taken huge leaps forward in a very short timespan. In the second episode of The True Canadians, host David Wylynko talks with Rebecca about the importance of family and community in fostering Métis youth with confidence and pride. These attributes help cure young people of the crippling effects of “imposter syndrome,” and can steer them away from the negative impacts of burying one’s heritage.

This support helped Rebecca make the move to a big-city university, where she often found herself to be the lone Indigenous student of her classes. It also gave her the strength of character that led to her new position as the Provincial Youth Representative in the recently created Otipemisiwak Métis Government. In that capacity, Rebecca travelled to Ottawa and attended hearings held by the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee on Bill C-53, which recognizes Métis rights of self-government. For young Métis citizens like Rebecca, it’s just the beginning.

“Some day is now”

Episode 1 features David’s talk with Andrea Sandmaier, President of the Otipemisiwak Métis Government of the Métis Nation within Alberta, and Audrey Poitras, who recently retired as president. The two discuss the Métis journey toward legal recognition of their right to self-government, including the landmark legislation now before Parliament, Bill C-53.

Among the stories told is one involving Angie Crerar, an elder from Grande Prairie, Alberta who addressed the federal Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs in Ottawa. She recalled how her own father hoped that, some day, this acknowledgment would come. “Some day is now,” says Sandmaier.

Introducing the True Canadians

Podcast Host and author David Wylynko

Podcast host David Wylynko and his co-author, Patricia Russell.