It is well known historically that Mrs. Hebert had many Indian/Metis children in her home for many years. She taught them how to be French. It is also known historically that between 1617 -1649 Champlain encouraged young French bachelors to marry available native/mixed blood girls especially the girls taught by families in the Colony. Though Champlain died December 25, 1635 Marie Hebert continued with her teaching of native children. If this is true, then many girls were available to be wives for French and Metis men. (Mrs. Hebert's young Native men also became citizens of the colony of New France and also intermarried with available Indian girls). Marie-Olivier Sylvestra is the only Indian girl that was recorded by her Godfather Olivier Le Tardif de Honnefleur to have been in the Hebert household.
Why are all these boys and girls not recorded in history or in documents of the Catholic Church? First it was unimportant. Everyone knew. Mrs Hebert’s children were not a secret! Everyone got on with life. Second the church was unable to reconstruct all burned records destroyed in fires before 1650. Thirdly Catholic priests did not always approve of Champlain’s ideas, thus did not record every nuance of life in the new land. Only followers of the Catholic church deserved to be recorded.
So who among the children of New France were Mrs. Hebert's Indian girls? We can only guess. But they would be, at the very least, those in our genealogies that do not have an origin. No Father. No Mother. No church records or adolescent histories. Those who also had only one (Christian) first name.
It surprises me that French and Acadian genealogists, historians and others refuse to acknowledge, even a little, Native ancestry for these Grandmothers and Grandfathers who cannot be positively identified.
After the English conquest of Acadia and New France many French families disassociated themselves from their Native heritage for fear of discrimination. Why then continue the deception or resistance? Could it be “pride and prejudice”? Maybe it’s been so long having one viewpoint that they are unable to stop and consider anything else. It is a fact that our unidentified ancestors lived in this new land, now called Canada, not in Europe and that without evidence to the contrary they have always lived here. This must be the first consideration. Otherwise they will forever be unidentified despite arguments that records will be found!
Dominique Côté, the chief of the Antaya First Nation: http://www.votre-nation-antaya.ca/ , (Notre vision tab) recounts her story online about the discovery that her Grandmother was a First Nation’s person. Dominique was one of the lucky ones! Her Grandmother was always listed by the family as European, born in France! But through a DNA test she discovered that she had Native markers. This pointed to a fact that at least one of her Grandmother’s was indeed Native. Why is she lucky? Because DNA testing cannot disclose fully for everyone if a person is a European/Native hybrid. (See my articles in DNA in this blog site). What is so compelling about her story is that her family deliberately concealed the truth for fear of discrimination (and possibly prejudice) for many generations.
Families with unidentified ancestral Grandmothers owe such Grandmothers an aboriginal identity without recrimination from those who disagree!