The Metis Rebellion
The Metis Rebellion
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Gabriel Dumont, buffalo hunter and general of the Métis forces. (National Archives of Canada, Jean Riel collection, PA-178147)
When Rupert's Land was annexed to Canada, the Metis defended themselves to keep certain long-held rights, such as the right to own land. Reactions on both sides created much controversy.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT
After the signing of the Confederation in 1867, Canada was made up only of a few provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Ontario. Some land to the west, which was called Rupert's Land, had belonged to the Hudson's Bay Company since 1836. In the 1850s, the Metis, who were living in the Rouge River region obtained rights relating to the monopoly of the fur trade by the Company which covered commercial, political, and administrative as well as land rights. At the same time, the Company's domination of this territory was contested by the governments of Canada, the United States, and Great Britain. After exploratory expeditions westward mandated by the Canadian authorities, the explorers discovered the farming potential of the lands. Thus during the 1860s, negotiations for purchase of the land began between the Canadian government and the Hudson's Bay Company, which prompted many American and Canadian colonists to settle in the area as the Company's monopoly was soon to end. The Rupert's Land region was annexed on July 15, 1870 to the rest of Canada and is now part of the province that became known as Manitoba.

SUMMARY
The1871 Red River rebellion

The Metis were worried about their newly acquired rights (territorial, administrative, commercial, etc.) and their culture. No measures were taken to appease their fears; negotiations continued as though Rupert's Land was uninhabited. Early in 1871, Louis Riel became the head of an interim government created by the Metis to negotiate conditions for inclusion in the Dominion of Canada. However, the talks were marred by armed confrontations. Furthermore, Riel and his associates executed a prisoner, Thomas Scott. This act was the basis for the Canadian government's refusal to grant unconditional amnesty to the Metis. The Manitoba Act was the basis for the creation of that province, but against all expectations, it did not allow the Metis to keep the benefits for which they had fought. As a result, many moved west in order to preserve their privileges.


The 1885 North-West rebellion

Colonists continued to arrive in droves and problems multiplied. In 1884, a delegation was dispatched by the Metis to find Riel in the United States, where he had taken refuge, so that he might present the claims of the Metis and those of the Natives of the region. But the Canadian government would not listen to the requests formulated by these groups. The Metis and Native claimants assembled at Batoche, where they captured several prisoners in a bid to get the government's attention. When police officers and volunteers agreed to negotiate, they fired upon the Metis and the Natives. Nine volunteers, three policemen, five Metis and one Native died in the skirmish. Riel was able to convince his people not to pursue the enemy and so they returned to Batoche. It didn't take long for the Canadian government to react. It sent some 5,000 soldiers to confront the Metis and the Natives. After several battles, the Metis and the Natives were forced to surrender. Following a lengthy trial, Louis Riel was sentenced to death. The Metis and Natives had no choice but to drop their claims.

Concepts
Confederation
Which was signed in July 1867, had a definite impact on the events in Caraquet, as it handed over jurisdiction of schools to Canadian provinces. Prior to that, schools were independent because they were financially self-sufficient, but when these new powers were granted to New Brunswick, the notion of establishing a consistent school system launched a debate. The law on common schools in New Brunswick was also based on the Tupper Law signed in Nova Scotia in 1864.

Province
A member-state of Confederation. The areas in which it may exercise its autonomy - such as passing Laws and Bills - are established by the Constitution. A province wields less power than the Federal Government.

Ontario
One of the four provinces that formed the basis of Canadian Confederation in 1867. Although it was very British in character, Ontario had a significant Franco-Ontarian minority population.

The Hudson's Bay Company
Private company founded in 1670 by Prince Rupert, a cousin of the King of England. The Company was granted an immense territory in Western and Northern Canada. Its primary business was the fur trade. In 1870 it ceded its land holdings to the Federal Government when faced with the threat of having them annexed to the United States.

Metis
A person whose parents are Native and European.

Interim government
A temporary government.

Confederation / Dominion of Canada
The Confederation treaty signed in July 1867 was called the Dominion of Canada and united New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Canada (Upper and Lower Canada, united in 1841). Eastern Canada became Quebec and Western Canada became Ontario. Three years later, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories joined the fold. In 1871, British Columbia joined Confederation, followed by Prince Edward Island in 1873 and, lastly, Newfoundland in 1949.

Amnesty
Law which that removes the right of punishment for a violation and condemnation of actions.

Rebellion
Uprising that confirms a group's refusal to submit to authority.