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Petition from the Metis of St.

Laurent, 1878
On February 1, 1878, the Halfbreeds of St. Laurent had a public meeting, at which abriel !umont was president and "le#ander Fisher secretary produced the following memorial$ %o His Honor the Lieutenant& o'ernor of the (orth&)est %erritories. %he *etition of the undersigned half&breeds of the parish of St. Laurent, in the (orth& )est %erritories& +,S*,-%F.LL/ SHO),%H$ %hat on the 1st February instant, in public meeting assembled, in the said parish, 0r. abriel !umont being chairman, and 0r. "le#ander Fisher, secretary, the undersigned, your petitioners, adopted the following resolution$ %hat the population of the (orth&)est %erritories is for the greater part composed of French half&breeds, without a single stipendiary magistrate understanding and spea1ing their language, and without any person of their race to represent them in the proceedings of the (orth&)est -ouncil2 +esol'ed, therefore, that an humble petition be forwarded to His ,#cellency the o'ernor eneral, praying that the two members of the -ouncil remaining to be appointed under the authority of the "ct of 1873 and its amendments, may be selected from amongst the old residents of the country, and that at least one of them be a French half&breed, and that in order to do full and perfect 4ustice to your petitioners5 race, pro'ision may be made for the immediate appointment of a person of French origin as a stipendiary magistrate2 %hat with a 'iew to pro'ide for he interests of education by the establishment of schools in the chief centres of the %erritories, an allowance of fi'e dollars per head for each child be made, up to the limit of two hundred dollars2 that sum added to the product of 'oluntary subscriptions will, in many localities, render possible the building and operating of schools which would otherwise be indefinitely retarded2 %hat there be granted to all half&breed heads of families and to their children who ha'e not shared in the distribution of scrip and lands in the *ro'ince of 0anitoba, li1e scrip and grants of land as in the said *ro'ince2 %hat the sudden transition from a prairie life to an agricultural life, caused by the rapid disappearance of the buffalo and the hunting ordinance of the (orth&)est -ouncil has reduced your petitioners to the last e#tremity, and compels them to apply to the !ominion o'ernment for help in farm implements and seed grain, such as has been granted to certain foreign immigrants in the *ro'ince of 0anitoba. Farm implements are e#ceedingly scarce, and the prices are so high that it i simply impossible for your petitioners to procure them2 and hence, should the o'ernment be unable to grant this help, many of your petitioners, notwithstanding their an#iety to engage in culti'ating the soil, would be forced to return to prairie life at the ris1 of infringing the ordinance

pro'iding for the protection of the buffalo, howe'er 4ust that ordinance may be, inasmuch as the time during hunting is permitted is too short and the buffalo is now too scarce to enable them to lay in a sufficient supply for themsel'es and their families for the remainder of the year2 %hat His Honor the Lieutenant o'ernor be respectfully re6uested to lay this petition before His ,#cellency the o'ernor eneral in -ouncil, with such remar1s as his own desire for the good and prosperity of the country may suggest. "nd your petitioners will e'er pray. "7+8,L 9 !.0O(%, -hairman "L,9. F8SH,+, Secretary. 1:th February, 1878. %he Hon. !a'id 0ills, 0inister of the 8nterior, o'5t of -anada, Ottawa S8+,& 8 ha'e the honor to transmit herewith a petition of certain half&breeds of St. Laurent relating to se'eral matters affecting their interests in this country. %hough the petition is addressed to the Lieutenant o'ernor of the (orth&)est %erritories, yet as it refers to 6uestions for the most part wholly under the control of the !ominion *arliament and o'ernment, 8 am re6uested to forward it to His ,#cellency the o'ernor eneral in -ouncil. 8 hope you will ha'e the goodness, at an early day to lay it before his ,#cellency in -ouncil. Should it be the intention of the o'ernment to appoint any additional members to the -ouncil of the (orth&)est %erritories, the prayer of the petitioners, that such should be selected from the old residents of the country, is well worthy of consideration. 8t is important that the land policy of the o'ernment towards old settlers and others li'ing for many years in the %erritories should be declared. 8t appears to me that they ha'e a claim to some more speedy means of ac6uiring title for settlement purposes than the homestead pro'isions of the !ominion Lands "ct. %o pre'ent disputes between neighbors, it is highly desirable that the sur'ey of lands settled upon along the principle ri'ers should be prosecuted with all con'enient speed. )ith respect to the prayer for assistance in procuring seeds and implements to commence farming operations, it is similar to the re6uest made to me by the half&breeds of 7ow +i'er during the 7lac1foot %reaty negotiations, and which 8 forwarded to you and commended to the fa'orable consideration of the o'ernment.

8 ha'e the honor to be, Sir, your obedient ser'ant, !"<8! L"8+!, Lieutenant o'ernor of the (orth&)est %erritories. 8n reply to 0r. Laird5s letter forwarding these pathetic appeals, the Honorable !a'id 0ills wrote a curt refusal as regards aid in commencing agriculture, but promised that a fair sur'ey and allotment of lands would be made in due time$ %he Hon !a'id Laird 0inister of the 8nterior, Ottawa.18th 0arch, 1878. S8+,& 8 ha'e the honor to ac1nowledge the receipt of your despatch, (o. =7, of the 1:th ultimo, co'ering a petition addressed to you by certain half&breeds of the parish of St. Laurent, relating to se'eral matters affecting the interest of the half&breeds in the (orth& )est. ;. /ou are re6uested to inform the petitioners that 8 shall ha'e much pleasure in submitting their petition for the consideration of His ,#cellency the o'ernor eneral in -ouncil. :. 8n the meantime you may intimate to the petitioners that it should be thought desirable to appoint additional members to the -ouncil of the (orth )est, 8 shall be prepared to recommend to His ,#cellency5s consideration their application that such members should be selected from the old residents in the %erritories, and that if possible, one of them should be of French -anadian origin. =. %he propriety of passing an "ct to secure for the half&breeds some more speedy means of ac6uiring a title for settlement purposes than under the pro'isions of the present Homestead and !ominion Lands "ct has for some time past engaged my attention. 3. "s regards the application of the petitioners for an early sur'ey of settled lands along the principal ri'ers, 8 ha'e to re6uest you to inform the petitioners that the sur'eys of such lands has already been carried out to some e#tent and will be prosecuted as rapidly as funds at the disposal of the !epartment will permit. >. %he application of the petitioners to be aided by the o'ernment with seed and agricultural implements in their farming operations, 8 confess 8 am not disposed to 'iew fa'orably&8 don5t see upon what grounds the half&breeds can claim to be treated differently from the white settlers in the %erritories. 7. %he half&breeds who ha'e in some respects the ad'antage o'er new settlers in the %erritories, should be impressed with the necessity of settling down in fi#ed localities, and directing their energies towards pastoral or agricultural pursuits, in which case lands

would no doubt be assigned to them in the same way as to white settlers. 7ut beyond this they must not loo1 to the o'ernment for any special assistance in their farming operations. 8. %he petitioners are in error in supposing that the o'ernment has gi'en seeds or farming implements to any other class of white settlers in the (orth&)est. 0oney has been ad'anced in some cases to certain settlers on the distinct understanding that it would be repaid to the o'ernment by the parties to whom it was ad'anced. 8 may add that the result of this e#periment has not been such as to induce the o'ernment to repeat it. 8 ha'e the honor to be, Sir, your humble ser'ant, !"<8! 08LLS, 0inister of the 8nterior. 7attleford, (.).%.

,dited and -ompiled by Lawrence 7ar1well -oordinator of 0etis Heritage and History +esearch Louis +iel 8nstitute


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