On June 19, 1816, a Métis Nation defence force under the leadership of Cuthbert Grant defeated the forces of the Hudson’s Bay Company and Selkirk settlers. The battle marked the emergence of a new nation, the Métis Nation, fighting under the same blue infinity flag used today across the Métis Nation homeland. Métis fur trader and poet Pierre Falcon captured the victory and the “glory of the Bois Brulés” in his stirring “Song of Pierre Falcon” that was played during the State of the Métis Nation Address at the MNC General Assembly by President Chartier on June 17.
Today, on June 19, 2016, descendants of the early Red River Métis and Selkirk Settlers gathered by the Seven Oaks Memorial at the intersection of Main and Rupertsland Blvd. in Winnipeg to commemorate the battle two centuries ago. MMF President David Chartrand and MNC President Chartier called on the gathering to remember that the battle was the first of many that the Métis Nation would wage to defend their territory and economic interests in the Red River Settlement. Whether it was confronting the Hudson’s Bay Company and its monopoly, standing up under Riel to Canada’s attempt to annex the territory without regard for the interests of its Métis majority, or repelling a Fenian invasion from the United States after bringing Manitoba into Confederation, the Métis Nation stood steadfast in defence of this region.
Joining them at the ceremony were the Hon. MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and Member of Parliament for Kildonan–St. Paul and representatives from various parties that worked on site improvements including a series of new interpretive panels providing a factual, balanced perspective of the battle, all centred on the historic monument to the battle that has been in place since 1891. These included the Manitoba Metis Federation, Parks Canada, the Province of Manitoba, the City of Winnipeg, the Manitoba Historical Society, Seven Oaks School Division, Seven Oaks Resident Association and the Seven Oaks House Museum.
According to the Seven Oaks Monument Committee, “In 1891, the Manitoba Historical Society erected a monument on a small plot of land in West Kildonan, dedicated to Governor Semple and his men. In 2007, a committee made up of representatives from the Manitoba Metis Federation, the Seven Oaks Historical Society and Seven Oaks Residents Association came together with the goal of making this plot of land a pleasant park for everyone to enjoy and, most importantly, to tell the full story, from all perspectives, of the event that occurred in 1816 at Frog Plain.”
MMF President Chartrand emphasized how important the “full story” of Frog Plain or Seven Oaks is for understanding the ongoing struggle of the Métis people.
“ Now we need to start taking that story and changing it, so people can say, when they see the Métis Nation, ‘We know who they are, we respect who they are, we understand why they’re fighting for what they’re fighting for,’” he said. “They’ll never understand until the story is told.