Saskatchewan - South Central

CCF Creates Métis Colonies


During the 1940s, the CCF created Métis ‘colonies’ at Crooked Lake, Lestock, Crescent Lake, BalJennie, Willow Bunch, Duck Lake, Glen Mary, Green Lake, and Lebret of which contained about 2500 Métis residents. These colonies were introduced by Tommy Douglas’ CCF government as a colonization project that they felt would ‘deal’ with socioeconomic struggles Métis, particularly Métis in the southern part of the province, were facing as a result of westward expansion and land loss. Colonies were intended to integrate and assimilate Métis peoples into western social and economic ideals that embraced the free market and prepared them for settler society. Schools established in Métis colonies were used to prepare Métis children for the ‘workforce,’ instill a community identity that based itself upon the cultural collective (White society), while simultaneously undermining cultural Métis knowledge and identities.



Colonies, however, provided very little to ebb the widespread poverty that many Métis at this time experienced, as land, livestock, and resources obtained in the ‘colonies’ were not owned by any Métis. CCF officials rationalized this by believing that the Métis were incapable of caring for themselves or their land. This belief was firstly, unfounded, and second, predicated on years of land dispossession and colonial interference across the prairies that robbed Métis from wealth and resources they formerly had access to. In doing this, the CCF continued to perpetuate the same behaviour as federal agents wherein Métis peoples were disadvantaged and assumed to be ‘incapable.’ 

Barron writes,

“Colonies, as a rehabilitation scheme for the Métis, were entirely in keeping with this thinking because they were seen as a way of making the Métis competitive in mainstream society. By removing the Métis from the road allowances and grouping them into distinct settlements, the government would be able to manipulate the environment to maximize local community development. The understanding was that, if the Métis could not integrate individually, they might do so collectively through the creation of economically viable, self-sustaining communities. Through proper training, self-actualization, and cooperation, they would evolve as a community of farmers contributing to the regional agrarian economy.”


Barron, F.L., Walking in Indian Moccasins: the native policies of Tommy Douglas and the CCF, 40-50.





North-West/Riel Resistance


The fighting began at around eight o’clock on the morning of May 9. The smokestacks of the Northcote were destroyed, rendering it useless. The Métis took the offensive on this day, attempting to push back the Canadian troops but various offensive maneuvers failed to overrun the Canadian positions. May 10 was taken as a day off to allow colonial troops to rest. It also allowed Middleton to engage in reconnaissance and create a plan of action. Some limited artillery and gun fire was exchanged between both sides. On May 11th began with Middleton undertaking more reconnaissance. On May 12, Middleton initiated a firm plan of action. The Canadian Army attacked and Middleton’s forces overran the Métis’ initial position. Nearly out of ammunition, they surrendered and the defeat signified the end of the Provisional Government. Immediately following the battle, Métis participants were disarmed and allowed to return home, while those identified as members of Riel’s council were arrested. Louis Riel surrendered to the Canadian authorities on May 15, 1885. Riel among many other leaders including Poundmaker, Big Bear, and Crowfoot who were implicated in the Resistance were put on trial in Canadian courts. Some were imprisoned, but Riel was hung for his leadership in the resistance and prosecuted for Treason under Canadian laws.

Middleton's success at Batoche would make way for a new economic and sociopolitical landscape on the prairies. The leaders the Canadian Government associated with the Resistance would be tried, unjustly, some being sentenced to death and others imprisoned.

Metropolitan Toronto Library. Diary of Staff-Sergeant Walter Stewart.

Beal, Bob, and Macleod, R. C. Prairie Fire: The 1885 North-West Rebellion. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1994. 263-276.

Payment, Diane. The Free People = Li Gens Libres: A History of the Métis Community of Batoche, Saskatchewan. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2009. 139.

Stonechild, Blair, and Waiser, Bill. Loyal till Death: Indians and the North-West Rebellion. Calgary: Fifth House, 1997. 162-164.

Archibald-Barber, Jesse Rae. Kisiskâciwan: Indigenous Voices from Where the River Flows Swiftly Regina: University of Regina Press, 2018. 49-55.

Sub Event
Battle of Batoche