Honouring the Spirit of 1817 – Commemorating the Selkirk Treaty









Committee to Commemorate
the 200th Anniversary of The Selkirk Treaty


Winnipeg – June 7, 2017

It’s the first Treaty signed in Western Canada and it was signed before there even was a Canada. It marks the beginning of the relationship between First Nations and the Crown in Western Canada. It cemented the friendship between Lord Selkirk and Chief Peguis. It shaped not only Winnipeg and Manitoba but also the nation itself. Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, and five Indigenous chiefs, led by Chief Peguis, put pen to paper 200 years ago on July 18, 1817 at Lord Selkirk’s Hudson’s Bay Company post – Fort Douglas – on what is now Waterfront Drive. It’s known as “The Selkirk Treaty” and it conforms to the spirit of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which provided a constitutional framework for Indigenous land entitlement and has been referred to as ‘Canada’s Indian Magna Carta’. Although it made the Red River Settlement possible, and the original document is housed here in Winnipeg at the Hudson’s Bay Archives, very few of us even know about it.

That is about to change.

In today’s spirit of reconciliation, a committee of 35 volunteers representing over 20 Indigenous and settler organizations is “Honouring The Spirit of 1817 – Commemorating The Selkirk Treaty”. The committee is co-chaired by Bill Shead of Peguis First Nation and John Perrin of The Scottish Heritage Council of Manitoba. Our committee wants to raise public awareness and honour the visionary leadership and friendship of Chief Peguis and Lord Selkirk leading to the signing of the 1817 Treaty. And although it must be acknowledged the settler community failed to honour the full intent of the Treaty in the future, in agreeing to its terms Peguis and Selkirk promoted peace, order and a spirit of mutual assistance and cooperation that is at the foundation of Manitoba’s unique history.

To mark this 200th Anniversary the committee has planned numerous events revolving around a visit to Manitoba of the current Lord Selkirk of Douglas, who has accepted an invitation from First Nations and Scottish and other settler organizations represented by the committee. There will be an array of free public events running from Sunday July 16 through Saturday July 22 in Winnipeg, Selkirk, St. Boniface and at St. Peter’s Reserve and the Peguis and Brokenhead First Nations. Details about specific events will be released over the next few weeks.

In addition to Chief Peguis and Lord Selkirk, the Chiefs signing the Treaty were:

Le Sonnant.
La robe noire.
L’Homme Noir.
Le Premier.

For information please contact:

Bill Shead, Committee Co-Chair

John Perrin, Committee Co-Chair

Terry MacLeod, Chair, Marketing and Communications

The Committee to Commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the Selkirk Treaty

Represented Organizations:

Anglican Diocese of Rupert’s Land
Brokenhead Ojibway Nation
City of Winnipeg
City of Selkirk
Hudson’s Bay Company Archives
Kildonan Community Presbyterian Church
Manitoba Historical Society
Manitoba Living History Society
Manitoba Métis Federation
Manitoba Museum
Peguis First Nation
Polish Canadian Congress – Manitoba Branch
Province of Manitoba
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Boniface
Seven Oaks House Museum
The Lord Selkirk Association of Rupert’s Land
The St. Andrew’s Society of Winnipeg
The Scottish Heritage Council of Manitoba
Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba
Winnipeg Art Gallery
Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra

NOTE:  In the summer of 1817, AFTER signing the Treaty, Lord Selkirk designated land on the west side of the Red River for a ‘Protestant’ church and mission, what is now St. John’s Anglican Cathedral, and on the east side of the Red River, near The Forks, for a Roman Catholic church and mission, what is now St. Boniface RC Cathedral.  Both churches were established on land set aside by Treaty fifty-four years before Treaty One was signed at Lower Fort Garry in 1871.