Let us honour Batoche Métis

Staff ~ The Prince Albert Daily Herald
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While the events of 1885 are now long in our collective past, there are still critical lessons we should take from that conflict.

We have just passed the anniversary of the tragic conflicts at Batoche. This early in the tourist season, visitors are yet to flock to the national historic site there, yet a number of Parks Canada staffers await those who come to see the place of one of this nation's defining moments.

While the events of 1885 are now long in our collective past, there are still critical lessons we should take from that conflict.

We have just passed the anniversary of the tragic conflicts at Batoche. This early in the tourist season, visitors are yet to flock to the national historic site there, yet a number of Parks Canada staffers await those who come to see the place of one of this nation's defining moments.

Considerable energy has been invested in restoring the old church at Batoche, along with the schoolhouse (complete with bulletholes caused by - according to guides - a Gatling gun brought north of the border by U.S. interests eager to demonstrate the power of the device to prospective Canadian purchasers). Too, the site of Major-General Fredrick Middleton's forces has been preserved, down to ensuring that earthen palisades are still somewhat visible.

The site is also dominated now by a museum and theatre clad in metal and glass.

Yet there is little to mark the remains of the original settlement at Batoche. Though the Carlton Trail was at one time one of the main thoroughfares of Canada's pioneers, all that remains are a handful of signs and a few old foundations.

It would do well, we think, for the federal government to consider investing a modest sum to recreate some of the original settlement, and in some way note the structures of some of the original settlers and key leaders of Batoche.

We note that in some cases, fire destroyed the original buildings more than 80 years ago. However, the lack of tangible interpretive elements is at best poor optics: the remnants of the white participants of the Batoche conflict remain preserved, while the history of other parties - MÉtis and First Nations - is less honoured.

Whether accidental or otherwise, is is an inequity that should be addressed.

Organizations: Parks Canada, Carlton Trail, First Nations

Geographic location: U.S., Canada

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