Seven Oaks / La Grenouillère, 200 years later – Sunday, 19/6/2016: A Bicentenary for building stronger community within our continuing journey of healing and reconciliation at Red River/Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
The Seven Oaks Bicentenary is an opportunity for us to commemorate this tragic event and an occasion to recognize the efforts that the Red River community made in reconciling early differences and living together in relative harmony right up to the moment of entry into Canada. Different parties will ascribe different meanings to the event at Seven Oaks, but what we all can agree upon, and give thanks for, is that things improved rapidly after that eventful day.
The day itself, June 19th, 2016, marks the 200th anniversary of a conflict long brewing in the area as two fur-trading corporations, both controlled by distant imperial masters, sought to protect and maximize profits. Our history has left its mark and it is our responsibility to move forward in harmony, working together to heal any painful memories.
After Manitoba’s joining the Confederation in 1870, many new challenges and injustices were brought to this community from which we are only now recovering. But recovering we are, together on a healing path, a reconciliation road. We believe that this series of events planned for Sunday, 19 June 2016, is a solid opportunity to build community, to work together in building a better Winnipeg, a stronger Manitoba, and a healthier, more hopeful Canada for all of us.
Two hundred years ago, on June 19th of 1816, a violent encounter took place, involving more than sixty armed horsemen and twenty-eight armed men on foot at the Seven Oaks on Frog Plain. This happened in the area we now call West Kildonan, around Main Street and Rupertsland Boulevard, west of the Red River. As communities of faith invested in Winnipeg since its very beginnings, it is our belief as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Boniface and the Anglican Diocese of Rupert’s Land that we must not neglect to commemorate that day long ago at Seven Oaks where the tragic exchange of gunfire occurred. We remember all who died, we mourn their unnecessary deaths, and we also give thanks for the healing and reconciliation that happened in the years following: the Red River Settlement became an early example – if imperfect – of the dream we hold for Canada now, with a multi-cultural, multi-lingual community living together in peace and relative harmony.
The ripples of what happened that day can still be felt even two centuries later. Much blood was shed that day long ago; many people died. In the years that followed, though, especially after 1821 and the merger of the North West Company (NWC) with the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), amazing things happened in Red River. Good things were accomplished, healing and reconciliation took root and began to grow, including a commitment to a new, shared future. The Red River community quickly attracted a number of retired fur traders, whose families were used to dealing with all parts of the community – Indigenous people, Metis, and Europeans, and had no room for intolerance.
Cuthbert Grant, leader of the NWC Metis in 1816, settled in Red River Colony at White Horse Plain with his people. By 1828 he had become sheriff and magistrate in the District of Assiniboia, with the title Warden of the Plains. The judicial system at Red River recognized the diversity of the population it served, and pleadings were accepted in the language of choice, with interpreters available as needed. The Red River schools, run by the Catholic and Anglican church missionaries, accepted children of all racial backgrounds, provided the fees could be paid. With this in mind, the major institutions of the Red River society did their best to achieve a racial and cultural harmony before Confederation with Canada.
Many Metis people in our own time regard this day as the beginning of a separate Metis identity within Canada, the great Metis Nation. As late as 1869 the population of the Red River community was approximately 12,000. Of those, 11,000 were Metis. About half of these 11,000 people considered themselves French Metis, while the others referred to themselves as ‘English’, although the great majority of these latter were of Scottish ancestry. Both groups shared First Nations’ ancestry.
The leader of the NWC group on June 19th of 1816, Cuthbert Grant, was himself a Scottish Metis. His group consisted of 62 buffalo hunters; of these, one was killed and one injured that day. Among the HBC group of 28, 21 were killed, including Assiniboia Governor Semple. Two centuries later, there are still various accounts and interpretations of what exactly happened on that June evening. There is healing and reconciliation work yet to be done between and among all of us who live in the ‘Red River Settlement’ that we now call by a Cree word, “Winnipeg.”
This year, 2016, June 19th falls on a Sunday, and the two church organizations which began with land grants from Lord Selkirk nearly two centuries ago, in 1817, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Boniface and the Anglican Diocese of Rupert’s Land, will mark this very significant anniversary as a critical part of a series of bicentenary events of historical significance for Winnipeg, Manitoba, and, we believe, Canada itself. We do this with the invaluable help and support and partnership of many others; this is a community effort.
 These include: 1812 for the arrival of the first Selkirk Settlers, 1817 for the visit of the fifth Lord Selkirk to Red River, 1818 for the founding of the Roman Catholic Church in the West and the community that would grow up around St. Boniface Cathedral, and 1820 for the founding of the Anglican Church in western Canada, which began with the establishment of a church that became St. John’s Cathedral.
The anniversary events of Sunday, June 19th, 2016, will begin at 1:30 in the afternoon with a Parks Canada ribbon-cutting at the renewed Seven Oaks Memorial, and the presence of provincial, city, and, perhaps, federal dignitaries. After that, just down Main Street, there will be a commemorative prayer service at St. John’s Anglican Cathedral, located on the banks of the Red River at 135 Anderson Avenue, where the first Selkirk Settlers who died in the winter of 1812 are buried, and quite likely many of those killed in June of 1816. Hosted jointly by both original churches in Manitoba, both now Cathedrals, this service will commemorate all the dead at the tragic struggle at the Seven Oaks on Frog Plain, and the suffering of the whole community. The service will also give thanks for healing and reconciliation, and pray for continued healing and reconciliation among all the peoples of Manitoba and Canada.
Following this Commemorative Prayer Service for Healing and Reconciliation at the Anglican Cathedral, which can seat up to 400 participants, there will be a feast, free food (hotdogs/hamburgers, chips, pop) shared in joyful community with enough for more than 1000 guests in St. John’s Park just south of the Cathedral, thanks to the great generosity of the new North West Company.
After the feast we will enjoy an evening of multi-cultural entertainment in the same venue, song and dance which will include performers from First Nations, including a descendant of Chief Peguis and others, the great Metis Nation, Lord Selkirk Settler descendants, with other groups represented as well. Traditional music will be featured, including performances on drums, pipes, and fiddles, etc. There will be dancers performing as well.
 Lord Selkirk’s Treaty of 18 July 1817 was signed by five chiefs, four of whom were Ojibwe, including Peguis, and one of whom was Cree, as well as that one additional Scottish ‘chief’:
(Signed) SELKIRK, MACHE WHESEAB, MECHKADDEWIKONAIE, KAYAJIESKEBINOA, PEGOWIS, OUCKIDOAT
Chief Peguis (Be-gou-ais, Be-gwa-is, Pegeois, Pegouisse, Pegowis, Pegqas, Pigewis, Pigwys; also known as the Destroyer and Little Chip, and baptized William King), Saulteaux Indian chief; b. c. 1774 near Sault Ste Marie (Ont.); d. 28 Sept. 1864 at Red River. Born in the Great Lakes area, Peguis was among the Saulteaux, or Ojibwa, who migrated west with the fur trade in the late 1790s, settling on Netley Creek, a branch of the Red River south of Lake Winnipeg. He welcomed the first settlers brought to the Red River area by Lord Selkirk [Douglas] in 1812 and is given credit for aiding and defending them during their difficult years.
We invite you to participate in our day of commemoration, thanksgiving, and celebration of community growing stronger as we commit ourselves to healing and reconciliation.
Planning Committee: St. John’s Anglican Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Boniface, the Anglican Diocese of Rupert’s Land, the Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert’s Land, l’Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba, Cuthbert Grant Descendants, Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Manitoba Historical Society, and Parks Canada (also on Facebook).
We are very grateful to all who supported us financially. All donors/gifts are listed here.
FREE FEAST: The North West Company – $7500
THANK YOU, MERCI, MIIGWECH, EKOSI, MARSI, TAPADH LEIBH!
SPECIAL NOTE: FREE TICKETS, ONE PER PERSON, IN PERSON, WILL BE AVAILABLE IN ST. JOHN’S PARK, MAIN AND MOUNTAIN, BETWEEN NORTH MAIN AND THE RED RIVER, ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE SHELTER, AT 5 P.M. FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED.
122 Northern stores, offering a combination of food, financial services and general merchandise to remote Northern Canadian communities.
7 NorthMart stores, targeted at larger northern markets with an emphasis on an expanded selection of fresh foods, fashion and health products and services.
31 Giant Tiger junior discount stores, offering family fashion, household products and food to urban neighbourhoods, and larger rural centers in Western Canada.
FREE CONCERT & ALL EQUIPMENT & SUPPORTS:
The Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert’s Land – $3,500
Winnipeg Foundation – $2,000
Bicentennial Lord Selkirk R. River Settlers Comm. – $1,000
St Andrew’s Society – $1,000
St Boniface Roman Catholic Archdiocese – $1,000
St. John’s Anglican Cathedral – $1,000
Manitoba Historical Society – $750
Rupert’s Land Anglican Diocese – $500
Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba – $500
Smaller private donations – $500
GRAND TOTAL $19,250
This gives a clear idea of the broad support across our community, and all done without any government support whatsoever. Again, thank you one and all; this is a great gift to our community on this special day.
‘We are all Treaty People’, so we believe it is vital to recognize and remember our history, including, maybe especially, those tragic parts of it, while celebrating much for which to give thanks. We are very excited about this day of great importance to our whole community of Winnipeg and Manitoba. We ask you to join us as we remember our past and move forward together on our journey of healing and reconciliation into a shared future of hope for all.
The Most Rev. Albert LeGatt, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Boniface
The Right Rev. Donald Phillips, Anglican Diocese of Rupert’s Land
The Very Rev. Paul N. Johnson, Dean of Rupert’s Land & Rector of St. John’s Anglican Cathedral
Parks Canada event at Seven Oaks Memorial
North Main and Rupertsland, across from the IGA
Commemorative Prayer Service for Healing and Reconciliation
Includes reading all 22 names of the dead, and tolling of a bell 22 times…
St. John’s Anglican Cathedral
135 Anderson Avenue, just north of St. John’s Park by the River
FREE FEAST AT ST. JOHN’S PARK
Mountain and Main (Again, with gratitude to the North West Co.)
Free tickets, one per person, in person
6 P.M. PLEASE NOTE TIME CHANGE!
FREE CONCERT IN ST. JOHN’S PARK
Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, bug spray, umbrellas, etc.
MCs: 1) Jocelyne Edwards, APTN
2) Terry Macleod, CBC
Peter John Buchan
Patti Kusturok & Jeremy Rusu
Scottish Country Dancers
Manitoba Highland Dancers
Léo Dufault is a Franco-Manitoban Métis with more than 45 years of performance, radio, television and film experience. He has produced music discs, dvd’s and dozens of documentaries for television/radio and has served on the boards of Manito AHBEE, Manitoba Film and Music, the Manitoba Film Classification Board and the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Léo has also produced concerts for fundraising events such as the 1997 Red River Flood Relief Concert at The Forks and the tribute Soirée Louis Riel at the Saint Boniface Cathedral, 2010. He has also been part of the planning team for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission events in Winnipeg, Inuvik and Halifax.
Léo is the recipient of the Prix RIEL 2012 and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Red River, looking downstream (north), from St. John’s Park, Wpg.