Metis Community at Batoche


The settlement at Batoche was a manifestation of the impact of the 1870 Red River Resistance - not only were Metis families being crowded out by the influx of white settlers in Manitoba, but they were also experiencing repeated government delays in procuring their land following ongoing amendments to the Manitoba Act. As a result, many traveled further west. There was continued unrest in the Batoche area as the Metis were not assured that their land rights or long and narrow river lots would be recognized in deeds of fee simple ownership. Although the majority of Metis in Batoche were hunters, traders, trappers, fur traders, freighters and stock raisers, they also engaged in small-scale, garden-type farming for their own sustenance. With the near-extinction of the buffalo by incoming settlers and significant reductions in the fur-bearing animal population, as well as concerns that their seasonal work would render their land cultivation illegitimate, the Metis were forced to transition to large-scale agriculture. Eventually, the government did fail to recognize Metis land claims, leading to the Riel Resistance of 1885, and the Battle of Batoche. All community members participated in preparation for the battle - while men were engaged on the front lines, women provided the supplies of ammunition and food which ensured that combat strategies could be administered, and, on occasion, even challenged and convinced Riel to change his plan of action. When the Metis army was defeated, the settlement members were forced to flee, and were not able to take their personal items with them. Although General Middleton had promised the Metis security and protection, the members of the Canadian army pillaged the Metis farms and stole or slaughtered livestock, leaving community members destitute. Although twelve men died as a result of the battle, nine women died of causes linked to or aggravated by the suffering and deprivation of the war.

Following the Battle of Batoche, it was Metis women, upheld as the transmitters and preservers of Metis culture, who would rebuild the community. Although they made application to the Rebellion Losses Commission for financial compensation, patronage and nepotism, as well as class prejudice, negatively influenced the final dispensation of funds. In many cases, women whose claims of loss or non-participation were denounced by others were dismissed - demonstrating gendered and racialized differentials of credibility and power accorded to different colonial actors. Many families found it difficult to financially recover. The financial loss compounded the adversities women experienced from widowhood and separation from husbands imprisoned for their participation in the resistance, emigration, and exile. Please see the excerpts below in "relevant resources" for further information.
Sub Event
Battle of Batoche (1885)