Métis Firsts in North America

Excerpts taken from Lawrence Barkwell

The following is an excerpt from the book Métis Legacy Vol. II Michif Heritage, Folklore and Culture, which is available from Pemmican Publications.

1801: On November 15, 1801, Alexander Henry records the Métis invention of the Red River Cart in his diary. His employees at the Pembina trading post developed the cart. The cart, based on an ancient French design, had technology and innovations that made them particularly useful for travel on the plains of the old North American Northwest. With this development traders were no longer confined to the waterways. As Henry noted, the country being so smooth and level we can use them in every direction. The legacy of the Red River cart is still found in cities such as Winnipeg, Manitoba that have very broad roadways. Portage Avenue in Winnipeg is wide because it is an original cart trail west, and carts used to travel from three to twenty carts abreast. The cart, drawn by either an ox or horse, was used to transport meat, buffalo hides, pemmican, trade items and personal belongings to and from the bison hunt and centres of trade in the United States. The cart could carry 300 to 400 kilograms of freight. It was made entirely of wood with two large rawhide covered wheels, 1.5 metres in diameter. The versatility of the cart was unmatched. When crossing water, the wheels were removed and lashed to the bottom to form a raft without having to unload any freight. In winter, the frame could be used as a sled pulled by a horse. The Red River Cart was responsible for the expansion of the fur trade in the west and for the commercialization of the buffalo hunt.

1800-1810: The York boat, based on an Orkney Islands-Viking influenced design, was invented in the early 1800s, by the Métis working for William Sinclair, a Métis Chief Factor from York Factory. The Métis made York Boats to traverse larger bodies of water. These large flat-bottomed boats were up to 13 meters long, could hold up to six tons of cargo, and employed a crew of eight men. In addition to their superior capacity, these boats required less maintenance. Both oars and a square sail powered them.

1818: Métis physician and surgeon John Bunn (1802-1861) was the first native-born doctor to practice medicine in the Red River Settlement. John was the son of HBC employee Thomas Bunn and his Métis wife Sarah McNab. John's grandfather was HBC Chief Factor John McNab. In addition to being a professional fur trader, John McNab was also a surgeon, and he assuredly influenced his grandson's choice of career. Although not much is known about the rest of Bunn's childhood, he did go to school in Edinburgh, Scotland and began medical school at the University of Edinburgh around 1817. Medicine as a profession was still in its infancy during Bunn's 1817 sojourn in Edinburgh. Although a sharp division had previously separated surgeons from physicians those who dispensed physic or medicine as opposed to the surgeon who was concerned with the art of cutting into the body, by Bunn's day medical students studied both physic and surgery at the University of Edinburgh as opposed to their English counterparts if they wanted to become general practitioners. Bunn probably followed suit, with his curriculum being similar to that in 1832 when he was examined in anatomy, surgery and pharmacy. John McNab was still looking out for the welfare of his grandson, and he planned for him to follow in his footsteps by becoming a surgeon for the Hudson's Bay Company. McNab sent a letter dated December 10, 1818 to the London head office of the HBC to request that John be considered for a position. The minute book recorded that if a Surgeon is wanted, the merits of his Grandson will be taken into consideration. McNab must still have had some influence because a position soon became available, and John Bunn left Scotland for Hudson Bay aboard the Eddystone the next spring. Bunn's entire career would be spent in the HBC's Southern Department, in a series of posts strung between Lake Superior and James Bay. He appeared not to have had much ambition to stay with the Company. He left York Factory shortly before Christmas in 1824, and arrived in Fort Garry on February 2, 1825 in the company of three men with dogs and sleds. He came to Red River to settle with his father, Thomas Bunn, who had arrived in the settlement a few years earlier, after leaving the Company's employ under somewhat controversial circumstances. Dr. Bunn probably moved in with his father and soon after began his occupation as the doctor for the colony. He most likely replaced a Mr. Cuddie, who had received a $150 annual salary with a $ 50 allowance for living expenses in 1823, with it being understood that he was to attend to the poor who were unable to pay him. Twenty-eight years later Governor Eden Colvile was paying Dr. Bunn $100 for his services, which was not as much as Mr. Cuddie received, but by 1851 there were two doctors in the settlement and Bunn?s remuneration might have reflected that fact. Being the doctor of the Red River Colony was a huge undertaking. As the elder Bunn wrote to Nancy, his son was much harassed by his business, & is obliged to keep 2 Horses. You will not be surprized at that when I tell you that the Settlement is upwards of 60 miles in length & there is no other medical man in it. In the summer he patrolled the 60-mile length of the settlement on horseback, and in winter he drove along the road in a parchment cariole, In 1831, Dr. Bunn returned to the University of Edinburgh to upgrade his training. Although John Bunn did not graduate in his second crack at medical school, he did pass enough examinations to become a Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons. (Contributed by Todd Lamirande)

1819: Pierre St. Germaine (1790-1870), a Métis voyageur of mixed Dene and French-Canadian ancestry, served for nine years with the North West Company, two and one-half years (1819-1822) with the first Franklin Arctic Exploration Expedition and then twelve years with the Hudson's Bay Company. He then retired to the Red River Settlement in 1834.

1837: Joseph Renville or Ranville (1779-1846), the son of a Dakota woman and a French Canadian fur trader, translated the entire Bible into the Dakota language in 1837. He was born in 1779 at what is now St. Paul, Minnesota.

1845: Marguerite Connolly (1830-1904) was the first Métis woman to enter the Order of the Grey Nuns (1845).

1850: Henry Budd (Sakacewescam) was the first Métis and Aboriginal North American to be ordained a deacon and then a priest by the Church of England.

1855: Alexander Kennedy Isbister (1822-1883) was the first Métis to publish in a scientific journal. Isbister was born at Cumberland House in 1822. His father was Thomas Isbister an Orcadian clerk at that post, his mother was a Métis, Mary Kennedy, sister to Captain William Kennedy. At a young age, Alexander traveled to the Orkney Islands to receive his basic education, he returned to the Red River District in 1833. He attended St. John's School, and then in 1838 joined the ranks of the Hudson's Bay Company. For three years, he worked up north, quitting the Company to further his studies. He enrolled at the University of Edinburgh (M.A.) and then University of London (LL.B.). He became a teacher in London, and at the same time wrote many school texts. In 1872, he was appointed Dean of a teacher training college in London. He was also editor of the Education Times, for 20 years. His scientific contributions in the area of geology include. On the Geology of the Hudson's Bay Territories and of Portions of the Arctic and North-Western Regions of America, which appeared in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London in 1855.

1855: The Council of Assiniboia appointed William Ross the first Post Master for Red River in 1855. William Ross was the Métis son of Alexander and Sarah Ross. He operated the postal service from his house near the Red River at the foot of Market Avenue. This house was built in 1851-52 by Hugh Mattison, the husband of his sister Margaret. It was located near the river on the eastern part of the original Ross estate. Upon arrival at Red River, Alexander Ross was granted 100 acres by the HBC in recognition of his service and success in the Snake country. This grant was located on the bank of the Red River with a frontage between William Avenue on the south and Logan Avenue on the north. It then ran back for two miles from the Red River to the vicinity of the present day Sherbrook Street. In 1949, the Manitoba Historical Society along with the City of Winnipeg took possession of the historic Ross House building and moved it to Higgins Avenue, across from the CPR Station. In 1984, it was moved to Joe Zuken Heritage Park on Meade Street.

1862: James Isbister (1833-1915) founded Prince Albert, Saskatchewan in 1862. Isbister, a fur trader and farmer, was born on November 29, 1833 at Oxford House the son of John Isbister; an Orkneyman employed with HBC and Francis Sinclair an English Métis. James was a leader of what were then known as the English Half-Breeds. He obtained his education at the Red River Settlement and was a noted linguist, fluent in English, Gaelic, Cree, Chipewyan and Michif languages. He entered Hudson's Bay Company service in 1853 and spent his entire working life in the Cumberland and Saskatchewan districts, mostly around Cumberland House and Nepowewin, where he married Margaret Bear in 1859. They had 16 children. He rose in the Company from labourer to interpreter, to postmaster and finally clerk. He retired briefly in 1862-64, 1867-68 and finally in 1871. He and his wife established a farm on the Lower North Saskatchewan River, June 3, 1862 and were the first settlers in this area, originally known as the Isbister Settlement. However, a Presbyterian minister James Nisbet established a church nearby and renamed the place Prince Albert. History has subsequently ignored the fact that it was Isbister who settled the area.

1862: Treaty of the Métis and Dakota: For many years the hunting parties of Dakota and Métis had fought over the same hunting grounds. The Dakota (the people of the Ten Nations, some 400 lodges) would typically gather at what was called Sioux Coulee near present day Langdon, North Dakota. The gathering place for the Chippewa and Métis was between Cando and Devil's Lake. Tired of this stand-off Chief Wilkie as leader of the Métis and Chippewa hunting parties decided to bring some resolution to the situation in the early 1860s. Gregoire Monette of Langdon, North Dakota tells the following story in 1917: In order to put an end to the suspense, fear and worry of watching the enemy, the Half-Breed hunters and Chippewa Indians under Chief Wilkie decided to send a commission to Washington to interview the president and find out how to obtain peace between these tribes. Chief Wilkie and Peter Grant were the men chosen. So well did they impress the authorities at Washington that President Lincoln told them they could have all the ammunition they needed for their protection. He asked them at the same time not to induce trouble but to go to them as brothers taking with them the bravest and best to make parley for peace. This was done and Chief Wilkie, Peter Grant, Gabriel Dumont, Joseph LaFramboise, Antoine Fleury, and seven others were chosen. They went direct to the village of the Dakota's or Nadouissioux and direct to the lodge of the chief. This they found surrounded by soldiers. They reported to the chief, and he asked for them to be brought in. The rabble had gathered about the lodge and threatened to kill them, but the soldiers would not allow them to do so saying that their chief was a brave man who would dare to come alone to a hostile camp. The crowd was so envious and angry that with their knives they slashed the tent cloth in the lodges. Although they were admitted to his presence the chief was very austere. They told him their mission, and being very tired and thirsty, Gabriel asked for a drink of water. This was refused which was known to be an indication of trouble. Chief Wilkie became alarmed and sadly dropped his fine bearing. Gabriel, his son-in-law asked him What is wrong with you. When the old gentleman told him his fears, he became very angry. He began at once to load his gun, saying I won't die before I kill my full share, and again demanded water which was brought immediately and due respect was shown their high commission from that time forth. When asked to fully explain their mission, as spokesman, Chief Wilkie said, We are enemies wasting the good gift that has been bestowed upon us through nature. We are preventing each other from trapping and killing the animals. There is plenty of room and much provisions. Let us help each other as brothers, let us have peace together. When the council was concluded, the pipe of peace was ordered to be brought. This was a very long pipe, ornamented with human hair so long as to reach the floor, bear claws and porcupine quills were also part of its decoration. The tobacco was cut by his first lieutenant, this was mixed with several herbs, and kinnikinnick. This mixing of the tobacco was to indicate the fusion of their interest and harmony of the whole people. The pipe was then handed to the Sioux chief, who took three draws and passed it to chief Wilkie. In this way it went around the lodge. Three times the pipe was filled and solemnly smoked and peace thereby established. Chief Wilkie then distributed to them gifts of tobacco, tea and sugar. They were then given a great feast at which they told how sad they were and afraid when they thought they were going to regret their friendship, and asked how they should get safely home. The chief said with great dignity, I will give you safe conduct; I will send my soldiers with you to your lodge and nothing will harm you. You have seen here some of my bad children and you may meet them on the way, but if they attempt to harm you, kill them and I will protect you. The above took place on Grand Coteau, forty miles west of Devil's Lake. Before leaving, Chief Wilkie invited the Sioux to send a delegation to visit his people, setting the day and hour for their arrival. When the time came near chief Wilkie bearing in front of him a white flag, went a mile out to meet them. About one hundred came, the chief and his staff were quartered in Chief Wilkie's lodge, the common people were scattered so as to get better acquainted. When the time came for them to go, they, as a sign of their friendship and brotherly feeling traded all their horses taking back none they had brought with them. Much good was accomplished, although there were still bad children (perhaps on both sides). (Cited in St. Ann's Centennial, 1985: 231-232.)

1863: The Ten Cent Treaty. for the Pembina and Turtle Mountain Métis. The 1863 Treaty with the Chippewa of Red Lake and Pembina Bands made provisions for their Métis relations. The balance of Chippewa and Métis traditional hunting territory, was subsequently ceded in what came to be known as the Ten Cent Treaty because one million dollars was paid for the ten million acres of land. The treaty was intended to cede a 30-mile-wide strip on either side of the Red River (5,634,820 acres in North Dakota and 4,156,120 acres in Minnesota). This formally titled McCumber Agreement of 1892 was eventually negotiated by what became known as the Committee of 32 (16 full-blood Indians and 16 mixed-blood Michif). It was ratified in April of 1904. The roll compiled by Senator McCumber consisted of 1,739 mixed-blood and 283 full bloods. The treaty was said to exclude another 1,476 mixed-bloods many of whom were considered to be Canadian Métis and many who were born in the United States but were considered ineligible. In addition to the monetary settlement, this treaty had allotments of 160 acres for each adult on the roll. The allotments located on the Turtle Mountain Reservation were given to the older full-blooded Indians and some of the older mixed-blood Michifs. The remainder of the lands were allotted on the public domain in Montana and Western North Dakota. As with most negotiations with Aboriginal people, this agreement was not implemented immediately, as everyone did not accept McCumber's roll. When it was finally completed and approved in 1943 (after a huge scandal of numerous deaths of band members through starvation), the band list consisted of 7,317 members, 160 of who were full-blood Indians. During the bitter debate to settle with the Pembina/Turtle Mountain group, Chief Little Shell who led a large group of Michif and Chippewas, had withdrawn to Montana and the group led a wandering existence in that territory. They were unsuccessful in negotiating their own reserve nor was the government able to have them accepted on other reserves in Montana. This problem exists to this day.

1865: In 1865, John B. Renville or Ranville (d. 1903) became the first Métis and Aboriginal North American to be ordained a minister by the Presbyterian Church. He was the son of Joseph Renville who translated the bible into the Dakota language (see above).

1866: William Lucas Hardisty (1822-1881) is the first Métis known to have done research for the Smithsonian Institute. Hardisty was the son of a Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company (also Richard) and Margaret Sutherland (a Métis). His brother was Senator Richard Charles Hardisty. William was born at Waswanipi House. After education at the Red River Academy, he too entered the service of HBC. Until retirement, he was Chief Factor of the Mackenzie District. He was author of The Loucheux Indians. (Washington: Smithsonian Institute Annual Report, 1866: 311-320.) For many years he collected specimens for the Smithsonian. In 1878 he retired to Winnipeg but soon moved to Lachine where he died on January 16, 1881.

1868: Sarah Riel (1848-1883), sister and soul mate of Louis Riel, joined the Order of the Grey Nuns, The Sisters of Charity in 1866 and made her vows in 1868. She was the first Métis to enter this branch of the order. After teaching school in St. Norbert she taught at Ile a la Crosse from 1871 until her death there in 1883.

1870s: In the early 1870s William Ross Jr. donated the land used for Winnipeg's first city hall. The site, a former creek bed, was donated on condition that it should always be used for the city hall and market place or it would revert to the Ross family. William Ross was the Métis grandson of Alexander and Sarah Ross.

1872: Gilbert Godon, a Métis from the Red Lake district of the Minnesota Territory, has gone down in history as Manitoba's first official outlaw when he killed Benjamin Marchand during a drinking brawl in 1872. Godon was in many fights and usually nothing serious happened until the night of October 10th 1872. Godon and a group of drinking buddies arrived at the Fort Dufferin home of A.J. Fawcett who was selling liquor illegally, when Fawcett refused to serve the new arrivals he was pushed and threatened by Benjamin Marchand. Godon, in defense of Fawcett, intervened and chased Marchand outside. Marchand?s son (Benjamin Jr.) retaliated by grabbing a shovel and banging Godon on the head. The fight was then joined by Godon's father and brother and the Marchand's retreated to the backyard. They then attacked the Godon's for a second time and were again repelled. After the victory, Fawcett remembered that he did have some whiskey hidden, and began serving the victors of the fight. An hour later Gilbert went outside for fresh air and ran into young Benjamin in the yard. Fearing another attack, he grabbed Marchand and dragged him inside. Her then knocked him down several times and began striking him on the head with the back of an axe head. Before his family and friends could intervene, Godon struck Marchand in the head with what was to later prove to be a fatal blow from the blade. Fawcett then went to the nearby headquarters of the Boundary Commission (help at Fort Garry was 95 km. north). He returned with fifteen men led by Sergeant James Armstrong of the Royal Engineers. Benjamin died shortly after their arrival so they detained Godon. However, the officer in charge of the Boundary Commision refused to accept responsibility for him and he was released. He then fled across the border into Dakota Territory. Subsequently, a coroner's jury found Gilbert to be responsible for Marchand's death and on November 12, 1873, a grand jury brought a charge of murder against him and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Six months after arriving in North Dakota Godon was involved in another fight and jailed at Pembina. Manitoba's chief constable, Richard Powell, learned of this and traveled to Pembina to return Godon to Winnipeg. On June 19th, 1874, Godon appeared in court and plead not guilty. The following Monday, his trial was held, the jury deliberated for thirty minutes, found him guilty and he was sentenced to hang on August 26th. Godon, however, still had the sympathy of one man, bartender Dugald Sinclair, whose life Godon had saved in 1870. Sinclair began a campaign for clemency and in response to these petitions, the government commuted Godon?s sentence to 14 years imprisonment. He was then transferred to the provincial prison at Upper Fort Garry. On the morning of September 23, 1876, Godon bolted from the work gang he was on, grabbed a small boat and took off across the Red River. He then collected his wife and his horse and again fled to the Dakota Territory. He lived back and forth between Pembina and his brother's place at Emerson. In 1877, Bradley, the Justice of the Peace at Emerson sent a posse to pick Godon up at his brother's house. Godon met them with a revolver in each hand, then in the meelee caused by his mother and sister-in-law he again escaped. In February of 1880 he was again arrested for a brawl at Pembina, locked up again only to escape soon after with Frank La Rose. He and LaRose were reported to be in a Half-Breed camp on the Missouri River five months later. LaRose died shortly after their arrival of hunger and exposure. Gilbert Godon survived, never to be seen in Canada again.

1875: This year marks the first and only numbered treaty (adhesion) between Canada and the Métis, Treaty Three: In Ontario, mixed-ancestry people were dealt with in several ways. The Métis community at Fort Frances, which is now part of the Coochiching First Nation, signed an adhesion to Treaty 3 in 1875 as half-breeds. In 1871 Nicholas Chatelain (a Métis HBC trader, manager and interpreter) was hired by the federal government as an interpreter and was present at the treaty negotiations with the Ojibway and Métis at Lake of the Woods (Treaty No. 3). It was Chatelain who requested that the Métis be included in Treaty No. 3, Morris refused this request but indicated that those Métis that so wished could sign an adhesion to the treaty. On September 12, 1875 Chatelain, acting on behalf of the Métis of Rainy Lake and Rainy River signed a memorandum agreement with Thomas Dennis. This agreement, known as the Half-Breed Adhesion to Treaty No. 3, set aside two reserves for the Métis and entitled them to annuity payments, cattle and farm implements. Unfortunately the Department of Indian Affairs did not ratify this agreement and over the following ten years the Métis sought to receive the promised benefits. In August of 1876 Chatelain informed Thomas Dennis that the promises had not been kept. The matter was referred to Indian Affairs who declared that they would only recognize the Métis if they agreed to join the Ojibway band living nearby. Evidently some interim annuities were paid. A further attempt to obtain treaty rights was made in 1885 when Chatelain on behalf of The Half-Breeds of Rainy Lake petitioned the department for annuities, in the amount of $782 for forty-six people. They also requested the cattle and farm implements they had been promised. Since this followed on the heels of the 1885 Resistance, the government relented and back payments from 1875 were granted. Chatelain and others continued after 1886 to lobby for the full compensation due, but the department would not move any further and considered the matter closed.

1875: The spring of 1875 marks the first mass deportation of Métis out of the United States. One of the largest Métis communities in Montana was on a portion of the Milk River known as the Big Bend, or Medicine Lodge, near where Frenchman's Creek enters the Milk River and northeast of present day Malta, Montana. As the US Army prepared for the Sioux war of 1876, they became concerned that the Métis might be trading arms to the Sioux. Therefore, in the spring of 1875, General Alfred Terry ordered Colonel John Gibbon to break up this traditional Métis settlement and send them back to Canada (although many had in fact been born in he United States). In 1879 there was another mass deportation for much the same reason, although the ranchers and other citizens of Montana had long been asking that the so-called Landless Indians of Montana' be removed. General Nelson Miles moved against the mixed-bloods from the Big Bend area in the summer of 1879, sending them northward across the border in railway cars.

1878: John Norquay was elected by acclamation to Manitoba's first legislature in 1870. He first became minister of public works and later minister of agriculture. In 1878, upon the resignation of the premier of Manitoba, he became the next Métis premier of a province in Canada. He served as premier until 1887.

1888: One year before his death, John Norquay made the first ascent of the peak that carries his name. Mount Norquay is a 2522 metre Mountain located in the Canadian Rockies near the town of Banff, Alberta.

1888: Richard Charles Hardisty, (1832-1889) was Canada's first Métis Senator. Hardisty was the son Chief Factor (also Richard) of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and Margaret Sutherland (a Métis). After nine years at the Red River Academy he joined the HBC and later assumed charge of Cumberland House then in turn became Factor in charge of the Edmonton District in 1873. Hardisty's daughter Isabella married Donald Smith who rose to become Governor of the HBC. He ran in the first general election for the District of Alberta but lost. Part of his election platform was upholding the rights of the Métis. On February 23, 1888 he was appointed to the Senate of Canada as the first senator from the District of Alberta.

1890: Edward Cunningham (1862-1920) became the first Canadian Métis from Alberta to be ordained as a Roman Catholic Priest. The son of Métis parents from St. Albert, Alberta, Edward was ordained by Bishop Grandin. He was born at Edmonton, Alberta on July 5, 1862, into a family of eleven children. He began school at St. Albert and took his post-secondary education at the University of Ottawa from 1882 to 1885. He served his novitiate at Lachine, Quebec and was ordained by Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin on March 19, 1890. Most of his service was amongst the Métis and Piegan people of Alberta. He was a renowned speaker who served missions at McLeod, Beaumont, Hobbema, Saddle Lake and Lac Ste. Anne. He died at Edmonton on July 20, 1920.

1891: The first Métis Q.C. was James McKay, the son of William McKay II a Chief Factor at Fort Ellice. James was created a Queen's Counsel in 1891 when Saskatchewan was still the District of Assiniboia in the Northwest Territories. In 1906, the Province of Saskatchewan made him a King's Counsel. His brother, Thomas McKay, became the first mayor of Prince Albert in 1886 and for 12 years was an M.L.A. in the territorial government of the Northwest Territories.

1894: James Francis Sanderson, (1848-1902) became the founder and the first president of the Alberta Agricultural Society in 1894. James was born March 23, 1848 at Athabasca Landing, Alberta, He was active in local community activities and was president of the local Stock Grower's Association (1896-1898), and headed the Irrigation League in 1894.

1945: Yolande Teillet from St. Vital, Manitoba was one of the first Métis women to play professional baseball in the United States. A catcher, she was a Canadian member of the All-American Girls Baseball League from 1945 to 1947. She played for two years for the Fort Wayne Daisies. Yolande Teillet is the daughter of Camille Teillet and Sarah Riel. Her grandfather was Joseph Riel the younger brother of Louis Riel. The All-American Girls Baseball League scouted in Canada and six Manitoba women were selected. At the time she was scouted Yolande was playing for the St. Vital Tigerettes. In 1945, her team, the Fort Wayne Daisies, finished second (62-47 record) to the league champion Rockford Peaches. The Rockford Peaches have been immortalized in the movie A League of Their Own. Yolande notes that they converted from softball players to hardball. The ball used in the All-American Girls Baseball League was somewhat larger than a regulation hardball used by the men's professional leagues. Yolande was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in June of 1988. Also in 1988, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York honoured the AAGBL with a permanent display and listed the names of each player. Similarly, the Manitoba Baseball Hall of fame inducted Yolande in 1988.

1957: William Albert Boucher became the first 20th century Métis appointed to the Canadian Senate on January 3, 1957. Previously, he was elected to parliament as the M.P. from Rosthern, Saskatchewan in the by-election of October 25, 1948. He was re-elected in the general election of 1949.

1970: In 1970 the Festival du Voyageur in St. Boniface, Manitoba was co-founded by George Forest (1924-1990). George was a Métis language rights activist and insurance agency owner, Forest engaged in a long struggle to restore French as an official language in Manitoba. He started this litigation over an English parking ticket he received in 1979 and eventually succeeded in 1985.

1972: In 1972, the Grant-Kohrs Ranch in Montana was established as a National Historic Site. This is the original home and ranch of Johnny F. Grant (1831-1907). Grant had sold the ranch to Conrad Kohrs when he returned to Canada and established himself in Manitoba. This is the first Métis ranching site to be so designated in North America.

1983: In 1983, Pauline Lavendeur and Ida Rose Allard, two Michif women living on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota wrote the first dictionary of the Michif-Cree language as it is spoken at Turtle Mountain. This book, published by Pemmican Publications Inc. in Winnipeg is now out of print.

1988: In this year, Clement Chartier became the first Métis person to become President of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples.

1990: Dan Jerome was elected to the North Dakota State Legislature in 1990, the first Native American ever elected to the North Dakota State Senate. He served until 1994. He became a master flute maker and always had a deep appreciation of his Métis and Ojibwa heritage. Dan Jerome was born January 13, 1930 at Belcourt, North Dakota. He is the son of Ferdinand and Emilie Laframboise Jerome, the fourth oldest of twelve children. He took his grade school education at St. Ann's Mission and the Turtle Mountain Community School. From 1954 to 1959 he attended North Dakota State University and upon completion of his degree taught school at Caron, Fortuna and Halliday, North Dakota. He then taught at the BIA school in White Shield, N.D. He became social worker in Belcourt in 1964 and in 1967 was appointed Adminstrative Assistant for the Belcourt High School. In 1969 he became the first Métis/Ojibwa school superintendent of the district.

1991: On April 19, 1991, Métis author Anne Anderson, C.M., LL.D, was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada. Subsequently, Métis historian Olive Dickason, C.M., Ph.D., D. Litt. was appointed on November 15, 1995 and John B. Boucher, Senator of the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan was appointed on May 1, 2002.

1992: In 1992, Métis Ethnologist, Morgan Baillargeon was appointed as Curator of Plains Ethnology for the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Morgan was the first Canadian to hold this position. He had interned under Ted Brasser who he succeeded in this position.

On March 10, 1992, federal Constitutional Affairs Minister Joe Clark introduced a historic resolution in Parliament:

"That this House take note that: the Métis people of Rupert's Land and the North Western Territory through democratic structures and procedures took effective steps to maintain order and protect the lives, rights and property of the people of the Red River; and
in 1870 under the leadership of Louis Riel, the Métis of the Red River adopted a List of Rights; and,

based on the List of Rights, Louis Riel negotiated the terms of the admission of Rupert's Land and the North Western Territory into the Dominion of Canada; and,
these terms for admission form part of the Manitoba Act; and,
after negotiating Manitoba's entry into Confederation, Louis Riel was elected thrice to the House of Commons; and,

in 1885, Louis Riel paid with his life for his leadership in a movement which fought for the maintenance of the rights and freedoms of the Métis people; and,
the Constitution Act, 1982, recognizes and affirms the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Métis; and,
since the death of Louis Riel, the Métis people have honored his memory and continued his purposes in their honorable striving for the implementation of those rights; and,

That this House:

1., recognize the unique and historic role of Louis Riel as a founder of Manitoba, and his contribution in the development of Confederation; and,
2., That this House support by its actions the true attainment, both in principle and practice, of the constitutional rights of the Métis people."

The resolution passed unanimously.

1993: In January 1993, W. Yvon Dumont was appointed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney as the lieutenant governor of Manitoba, becoming the first Métis to ever hold that position. Dumont is also the youngest Native North American to enter into Native political leadership. At the age of sixteen (1967) he was elected secretary-treasurer of the St. Laurent local of the Manitoba Métis Federation. At twenty-one he became president of the Native Council of Canada.

1995: Suzanne Rochon-Burnett, C.M., is the first Métis woman in Canada licensed by the Canadian Radio and Television Commission to operate a private radio station. In 1995 she purchased C-HOW 1470 in the Niagara Peninsula (Welland). Rochon entered broadcasting when she was 19 soon she was producing and hosting a daily women' program and became public relations director of CKJL in Saint-Jerome, Quebec, from 1954-1960. As a freelance journalist and broadcaster she worked for radio stations in Canada and in Europe. In the 1970s she was a frequent guest on CBCs Morningside. She also acted as broadcaster for Chanson a la Francais, syndicated and aired weekly on 22 AM and FM stations in Ontario.

1997: In 1997 the Métis National Council was granted NGO Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. The MNC's first ambassador to this group was Clement Chartier.

1997: Bryan Trottier, a Métis, born in Val Marie, Saskatchewan, was inducted into the National Hockey League's Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997. He is one of the greatest hockey players to ever come out of Saskatchewan. From 1972 to 1974 Bryan played for the Swift Current Broncos, and moved with the Broncos to Lethbridge for the 1974-75 season to finish his junior hockey career. That same year he was Most Valuable Player in the Western Hockey League. He was drafted by the New York Islanders in 1974. In 1975, at age 19 he made the jump to the National Hockey League. At the Islanders home opener that year he scored three goals and had five points. He went on to lead the New York Islanders to four Stanley Cups and played on two Pittsburgh Penguin Stanley Cup winners. He is seventh on the NHL all time players list with 1,279 games played, 524 goals, 901 assists and 1,425 total career points. In 1998, he received an Aboriginal Achievement Award for Sports.

1998: In 1998, C-HOW moved to the FM dial rather than cut their power as an AM station. Suzanne has served on the boards of TV Ontario, the Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, the Crafts Council, and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. She currently is a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario and serves on their Cultural Commission. She was recipient of the Governor General's Medal, the Order of Ontario, the Award for Meritorious Service from the Ontario Native Friendship Centres and in 2002 was appointed to the Order of Canada.

1999: In 1999, Todd Ducharme became the first Aboriginal person elected as a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Please see the entry under 2004 when Todd was appointed as Canada's first Métis judge.

2002: In July of 2002, Leila Chartrand became the first female Métis professional golfer when she made her debut as a professional at the Whirlpool PGA Women's Championship at the St. Catherines Country Club in St. Catherines, Ontario. Leila is the daughter of Paul Chartrand a former professional baseball player, and Diane (Plowman), a former Canadian track star. Her father, Paul Chartrand, was the first Aboriginal North American to play on the national baseball teams of two countries, Canada and Australia.

2003: On December 29, 2003 Clement Chartier was appointed Queen's Counsel by the Saskatchewan Minister of Justice. This is an honorary designation. Appointees must live in Canada and must have practiced law at least 10 years in the superior courts of any province or territory of Canada, or the United Kingdom and Ireland. Clement is the first Métis lawyer to be honoured with the QC designation in the modern era. The first Métis Q.C. was James McKay, the son of the Honourable William McKay. He was created a Queen's Counsel in 1891 when Saskatchewan was still the District of Assiniboia in the Northwest Territories. In 1906, the Province of Saskatchewan made him a King's Counsel.

2004: Todd Ducharme became Canada's first Métis judge when he was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on May 7, 2004. Todd Ducharme, a Métis lawyer from Toronto, has a B.A. from McGill University, an M.A. from Yale University, an LL.B. from the University of Toronto and an LL.M. from Yale Law School. He is certified as a specialist in criminal law by the Law Society of Upper Canada and has practiced both as a defence counsel and as a standing agent for the Department of Justice. In 1999, Mr. Ducharme was the first Aboriginal person elected as a Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Mr. Ducharme is very well regarded in the legal community. This was evidenced by the fact that in the 2003 Bencher Election he received the most votes of any Toronto candidate, becoming the Regional Bencher for Toronto, and received the second highest amount of votes in the province as a whole. Mr. Ducharme has also been very actively involved in Toronto's Aboriginal community over the last decade. He was the first Clinic Director of Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto and currently serves as a Director of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto. (Contributed by the Métis National Council)

2004: Heather Souter is probably the first Métis to be conversant in the Michif, Japanese and Chinese languages. Heather has always had a strong passion for languages. From an early age, she knew that she wanted to become an interpreter. Heather currently speaks six languages (fluent in English, Japanese and French and conversant in German, Spanish, and Chinese.) She is currently learning to speak her seventh language, Michif. Heather was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and raised throughout the province. During her high school years, she was chosen by the Rotary Club to become an exchange student in Japan. When Heather returned to Canada, she attended the University of British Columbia and graduated with a B.A. in Japanese. It was during this time that she consciously began exploring her Métis background. Heather learned that her grandmother was Métis (born to Marie Julie Belcourt and John Robinson in Mindapore, Alberta), but was forced to conceal this due to prejudice and discrimination. This sparked the beginning of Heather's journey to retrace her roots and learn about her Métis heritage. After four years at university, Heather started her own consulting business for Japanese restaurants, later deciding to change gears and work as an environmental activist with the Western Canadian Wilderness Committee. At age 30 she entertained studying Cree at the University of Alberta but decided to make her dream of becoming an interpreter come true first. She returned to Japan, where she attended interpreting school and became a freelance interpreter and translator. After several years of work establishing her career, Heather suffered an accident that put her out of work for quite some time. She was forced to reassess and rebuild her life again. During this time Heather had remained very interested in her Métis heritage and began to seriously think about returning to Canada to live and become active in the Métis community if possible. While she knew that her Métis ancestors likely had spoken French and Cree, she was not aware of the existence of Michif, the unique language of the Métis, until she came across Peter Bakker's book A Language of Our Own. She then contacted Dr. Bakker to discuss her interest in the Michif language. Little did she know that a great opportunity would crystallize. At the suggestion of Dr. Bakker, Heather began organizing a Master-Apprentice Program for Michif. She successfully applied for a grant from the Endangered Language Fund, and the Camperville Michif Master-Apprentice Program Pilot Project was born. This was when she made her decision to pour herself into the revitalization of Michif and other Métis languages. Heather currently lives in Tokyo and is learning Michif from a resident of the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota via the Internet. She will be leaving Tokyo to attend the American Indian Language Development Institute at the University of Arizona for one month, the Canadian Indigenous Language and Literacy Development Institute for another, and will then be moving to Camperville, Manitoba to live with an Elder and become totally immersed in the Michif language for five months. Heather is working to develop her fluency in Michif and to create Michif language learning materials, including finished a Michif pocket dictionary, a Michif verb dictionary, and translations of Michif prayers which were begun by a previous "apprentice" last year. Heather hopes to attend graduate school next year to study linguistics, with a particular focus on Michif language revitalization and documentation. Language is precious to Heather. She has dedicated herself to revitalizing and preserving the Michif language as it mediates Métis culture and identity. Heather is most concerned with empowering Métis Elders and communities to share their languages and pass them on to the younger generations. (Contributed by Amanda Rozyk and Heather Souter.)

B300-150 Henry Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B 0J7

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