Biographies of Two Metis Society Founders, Norris and Brady
R-A1102 to R-A1187, R-A1322 to R-A1333, R-A1529 to R-A1534
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Summaries of interviews
Interviews conducted in 1976 and 1977 under the "Towards a New Past Programme" of the Cultural Activities Branch of the Department of Culture and Youth. In conducting his research for a Master of Arts thesis, "A Study of the Lives of James Patrick Brady and Malcolm Frederick Norris, Métis Patriots of the Twentieth Century", and his subsequent book, The One-And-A-Half Men, Murray Dobbin found that oral history interviewing was a necessity. There simply was not enough documentary evidence available to make a complete study of their lives and their work as Métis and Native leaders. The people interviewed were predominantly of Métis or Native backgrounds who knew Norris and Brady and of their involvement in Native organizations, particularly the Métis Society of Saskatchewan of which they were founders. Colleagues, friends, family members and acquaintances speak of the personalities of the two men. Both were self-educated, brought together by one driving cause -- a desire to encourage and motivate Métis and Natives to stand up and help themselves. They both believed that Métis and Native people should act together as one entity when facing the government and fighting for rights and money. There the similarities seem to end however. Brady was rather a quiet man with much time for people, reading, studying and thinking. He was comfortable in Native and Métis company and spent much of his life in the northern bush. Malcolm Norris, on the other hand, seemed to identify more strongly with the white culture. He was an eloquent speaker, sometimes forceful and impatient and perhaps, as some have suggested, before his time for he often alienated himself from Native and white people alike in his attempts to organize. Family members speak of the formative experiences of the two men and reveal the stability and relative economic superiority of the Norris and Brady families over the Métis population in general. Contemporaries in both Native and Métis leadership positions provide a different perspective. They speak of the evolution of the Métis Society of Saskatchewan from the founding meeting to the present including the issues separating the south from the north and the separation of Native and Métis people as a political entity. They tell of the influence of Brady and Norris in the development of the Métis Society, as well as tracing the parallel development of Native organizations. Politicians describe government policies towards Natives and Métis in the province and the difficulties encountered in trying to implement them. From these accounts a picture develops of conditions that exist for Natives and Métis in the north and how the Native social structure fits into that of Canada as a whole. In speaking of the lives of these two men, what they believed in, and their accomplishments, no one could deny the tremendous influence they had on the lives of the people with whom they came into contact and the lives of those for whom they fought. Not only is this collection a serious biographical study, but it includes valuable information about the situation which faces Métis and Native people on the prairies. The sound quality and interviewing style is excellent and the accompanying summaries are exhaustively thorough.
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