A new exhibit chronicling a tragic and historic time in Metis history has opened at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg.
Ni Kishkishin, meaning I Remember, retells the story of Ste. Madeleine, a former Metis settlement located along the Manitoba, Saskatchewan border.
In 1939, nearly 300 people living in the community were displaced when provincial and municipal governments designated the land for community pastures as part of what was called the Prairie farm rehabilitation administration.
During the unveiling of the exhibit Metis Elder George Fleury shared stories of his childhood.
He recalled the tragic moment his family returned home from working various jobs.
“Our house had been burned down while we were gone,” said Fleury. “I was only four-years-old but I remember seeing my mother crying and my father’s shoulders heaving up and down.
“He was crying too.”
Government came into Ste. Madeleine and burned down the homes as well as their dogs were shot dead.
Fleury says he was too young to understand the full impact of what this meant for his parents.
“I didn’t sense what the loss was but in their hearts they knew what had been lost,” he said.
“They lost their homes, their livelihood, their dignity.”
The exhibit is displayed in Michif, French and English. It includes artifacts and stories from Elders, including Fleury.
All that’s left of the settlement today is a cemetery.
“Ste. Madeleine is a piece of history that needs to be corrected,” said John Fleury, son of George and a minister with the Manitoba Metis Federation.
The organization continues to fight with governments to have the land returned.
“When you talk about reconciliation, well come on Manitoba step up to the plate and let’s do some reconciling,” said the younger Fleury.