No More Regrets
This story portrays the considerable influence that deceased Elder and long-time Fishing Lake resident John MacLean had on his grandson Bryan Fayant. While rooted in survival terms, this is also a story that highlights Bryan’s pursuit of a university education. The story begins with a brief clip of a person (John) signing a document with an “X” – a clear signifier of illiteracy – while Bryan tells us of his grandfather’s deep regret in not knowing exactly what he was signing. Bryan tells us, “he may even have signed away his lands with that X.”
While his Mooshum may have lacked a formal education, Bryan tells us that his grandfather held much traditional Métis knowledge. He relays how these traditional ways were threatened and disrupted by the influx of new settlers to northern Alberta. We hear a shocking tale of how John was shot by a newcomer/settler because John looked like an “Indian” - a group the settlers had been taught to fear and dehumanize. This is one of the hidden stories of the settling of the West – a story far less celebratory and more deeply rooted in the reality of historical struggles over land than the celebratory settling of so-called untamed lands. In this story of forced relocation from the St. Paul area to Fishing Lake, family members of John MacLean relay hard lessons learned around land ownership under colonial control. As John Maclean would later counsel his grandson, education would be one way to protect Métis families from the negative outcomes of colonialism. The story ultimately reinforces the value of education in adapting to new and unfamiliar ways of life.