MMF Commemorates 80th Anniversary of the Ste. Madeleine Tragedy

July 19, 2019

Binscarth, MB - Today, the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) began three days of remembrance of a tragic and historic time in Métis History. In 1939, 80 years ago, the Metis Community of Ste. Madeleine was burned to the ground and hundreds of Métis Citizens were forced to relocate to make way for a community pasture.

"I am so proud to welcome people back to the site of this historic wrong," said MMF President, David Chartrand. "The burning of Ste. Madeleine is a story that needs to be told as we work towards reconciliation with all Manitobans. To be on this site with descendants from Ste Madeleine and to be able to share this story is something I am grateful for."

The survivors today, many of whom will be attending the event, were children at the time. Their childhood memories include the horror of coming back to town and seeing the flames consuming their homes and the impacts on their parents. Today the school foundation, cemetery, and the memories remain.

The Ste. Madeleine tragedy stemmed from the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration. The government deemed certain lands across the Prairies to be marginal and were designated to become community pastures.

One of those designations included Ste. Madeleine near Binscarth. Métis Homes were expropriated, and Citizens were to receive land in kind, but only if families were paid up on their property taxes. Many Métis Citizens were not able to pay their taxes and were forced from their homes.

"We must never forget what happened in Ste. Madeleine," added President Chartrand. "This is very recent history that we must all learn from. I hope all Manitobans will take the time to learn about the wrongs inflicted on these Métis families. Remember - these Métis families lost their homes to feed cattle."

"We are commemorating the strength of the survivors and their families," President Chartrand went on to say. "Today, they need permission to cross the pasture to visit their Ancestors graves or bury their loved ones. In the face of such disrespect, each year this community comes together to dance, sing, and celebrate the lives of their Ancestors."

The MMF will continue to pursue both the Province of Manitoba and Canada to return these historic and traditional lands in and around Ste Madeleine back to the Manitoba Métis. We look forward to Canada's assistance and support in repatriating the hearths and traditional lands back to our Community.

Along with being a time for reflection, the MMF is also making Ste Madeleine Metis Days a time of celebration of the Métis People and Culture. The free event runs until Sunday evening.


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