Post image source: Archives of Manitoba, Events 243, Signing Treaty #1, Lower Fort Garry, ca. 1871, 2.

Ten Days of Prisoner Justice History: Day 2

The Hudson’s Bay Company’s (HBC) British Crown-given authority to police and jail people in the North West was constantly questioned and resisted by the people it policed – especially by Métis, Anishinabe, and other Indigenous peoples – since it began to do so in 1835 (Malone 2017).

On July 27, 1871, two thousand Anishinabeg gathered at Lower Fort Garry in Red River (now known as Winnipeg) to negotiate Treaty 1 with Canadians representing the British Crown. The Crown was imprisoning many Anishinabe people at the fort that day. (Craft 2013, 48).

The Anishinabeg arrived at Lower Fort Garry committed to upholding the Anishinabe principle of non-interference, meaning that Canadians would be welcome to use their lands and to govern themselves, as long as they did not interfere with Anishinabe self-government and land use (Craft 2013, 60).

But the fact that the Crown was holding Anishinabe people captive inside the fort’s jail was a glaring violation of the non-interference principle.

To show the British Crown the meaning of non-interference, the Anishinabeg refused to negotiate Treaty 1 until the Crown immediately freed all Anishinabe people imprisoned at the fort (Craft 2013, 82).

I can scarcely hear the Queen’s words. An obstacle is in the way. Some of my children are in that building (pointing to the jail). That is the obstacle in the way which prevents me responding to the Queen’s words…I want my young men to be free, and then I will be able to answer.

– Chief Ayee-ta-pe-pe-tung (Craft 2013, 75)

Sources

Malone, K. 2017. Bank robbers, labour leaders, and political prisoners: 140 years of history at Stony Mountain Institution. CBC Manitoba.

Craft, A. 2013. Breathing life into the stone fort treaty. Saskatoon: Purich Publishing.