Each year we present a Local History Conference in conjunction with our Annual General Meeting.
Presented below are reports from the two most recent conferences.
TURTLE MOUNTAIN SOURIS PLAINS HERITAGE ASSOCIATION INC.
CONFERENCE & ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING on MARCH 14, 2016
Theme: The Times – They Are A’Changin
Monday March 14, 10 – AM - 3 PM
Mountview Centre - Deloraine
Head of Council for Deloraine – Winchester, Gord Weidenhamer, 4th-generation farmer, welcomed visitors to the community. He mentioned the value of the Vantage Points books and thanked retired local history teacher, Bob Caldwell, for developing his interest in heritage.
Turtle Mountain Metis Elder and a founding member of the TMSPHA, Steve Racine, offered a prayer. Clark Combs, neighbour and long-time family friend of Neil Hathaway, presented a memorial about TMSPHA’s vice-chair who passed away in August of 2015.
David Neufeld spoke to the theme “Times - They are a-Changin’.
We are moving into a different era, but want the relationships to continue to thrive in future generations. We want to present some of our projects via different media, such as videos and increased use of the website. He also talked about his childhood years in a closed Mennonite community at Whitewater where his ancestors settled this land similar to their former Ukraine farms. He spoke of the Mennonite experience in Russian and his experiences in South Africa - drawing lessons from those experiences that link them to the here and now.
Chief Viola Eastman of Canupawakpa Dakota Nation expressed her love of the Dakota and their culture and language. She offered an interesting perspective in the Residential Schools issue, reminding us that many parents accepted having their children attend residential school. They wanted their children to learn English and other thing about European culture that might help their communities adapt. What they didn’t anticipate was that that their own language and culture would be taken away from them.
Following their oral tradition of passing on history to the children, Viola’s parents taught their children to speak Dakota and understand their heritage. Her community’s school division, Fort la Bosse, is offering indigenous curriculum courses for their First Nation students.
Leah LaPlante, a long-term leader of her Metis community in southwestern Manitoba paid tribute to the many individuals who have made a differene in the Turtle Mountain Local, such as Steve Racine, Ken Leforte, Sharon (Conway) Parenteau, Lorne and Mary Conway, Grant Armstrong . Leah also stated that retired Deloraine teachers Bob Caldwell and Rick Schoonbaert provided the favorite part of schooling for two generations of Metis students.
During Leah’s young adulthood, she began to research who she was as a Metis person and what it means to be a Metis. In Grade 6, the history lesson Leah was taught was that Louis Riel was a traitor. She kept her hand down when the teacher asked if there were any Metis in the class. Now Leah feels that she is “the proudest person walking the mountain.” Her research told her that her grandparents played a big part in building Manitoba. The Racines are descendants of Cuthbert Grant.
Leah also gave us the history of Metis issues such as “harvesting rights”. and noted that Premier Selinger recently acknowledged Louis Riel as being the first government leader of the province of Manitoba. Sharon Parenteau reviewed the history of the Metis people in Manitoba and the development of the Manitoba Metis Federation. She reviewed key points in the MMF’s consultations with governments, such as the Powley Decision. Sharon then described the MMF’s Metis Harvest Initiative and summarized the Metis Land Claim case.
Tom Mitchell, a retired professor at Brandon University spoke about using video productions to present history. Tom showed his recently-made video about early Brandon. He said that we live in a digital age and the tools are available, suggesting that a video on the Boundary Commission Trail would require two photographers plus our own research material that provides great stories & story-lines and visuals of the landscape, community places and people. He said that the human voice component makes a big impression on video. Music can also be important and recommended that we find local people to compose music.
Our researcher and writer, Ken Storie, discussed “Connections”. When we reach out, we can find hundreds of things about southwest Manitoba that we didn’t know about. We try to reach out to our readers; teachers and students; collaborators in order to gather stories about old buildings; natural sites; trails and rivers; ancestors, and technology. We might sometimes not know the whole story, so appreciate feedback from our readers. For example, in VP4’s article on Sitting Eagle, we may have misidentified the two men who discovered Sitting Eagle after his death. Leah says it was her two grandpas.
2015 AGM & Conference - Report
TURTLE MOUNTAIN – SOURIS PLAINS HERITAGE ASSOCIATION INC. ANNUAL CONFERENCE & AGM @ MOUNTVIEW CENTER, DELORAINE
ON THURSDAY, APRIL 9TH - 10:00 TO 2:30
Neil Hathaway, TMSPHA vice-chair
Welcome from Deloraine-Winchester Reeve - Gordon Weidenhamer
Project Manager’s Report
Ken Storie reviewed projects underway such as Vantage Points IV and Interpretive Signs projects for Waskada, The Goodlands area coal mines, and the Souris River Fur trade posts.
Ed Ledohowski - Community Outreach
Recently retired from the Manitoba’s Department of Tourism, Culture, Heritage & Sports, Ed Ledohowski described possible ways for tourism and heritage groups to develop opportunities for community outreach and economic development. He defined success as getting information out to our residents and making our research materials available on the internet as well as through books.
Chief Vincent Tacan
Chief Tacan of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation discussed some of the past history of the Dakota people. Many of the present Sioux Valley residents are descended from families who were removed from the Turtle Mountain Reserve in the early 1900s. Archaeological research has shown through artifacts that the Dakota had lived in our region for a long time prior to the arrival of fur traders and homesteaders. The word “Dakota” is translated as “allies; friends.” They fought alongside the British in battles such as the War of 1812. The chief felt that it is important for every community to look at their own history and to make sure that their children become aware of the heritage and culture of their own people.
As a follow-up, David Neufeld talked about reading the book 1491, the title referring to the year before Columbus’ voyage. In this era, the prairies were well-settled; there was a thriving buffalo-based economy. The Western Hemisphere held 90 to 112 million people, resulting in a higher population in the Americas than in Europe. The indigenous population had their own dynamic cultures. But this period was ended by a general unsettling of the prairies, when traumatic events such as smallpox epidemics caused the loss of about 95% of the population. Then came another settling of the prairies when the European immigrants arrived in western Canada.
Metis Elders Teaching in the Schools
Jackie Leforte and Mary Conway discussed some of the information that they tell students and teachers in their METIS (Metis Elders Teaching in the Schools) presentations. They reviewed a brief history of the Metis people; some of their most notable members; their livelihood and traditions, including their great love of fiddle music and jigging. Following their discussion, a prayer was offered by Father Paul Bisson, whose family can trace its history in Canada 14 generations. Then the audience members were provided with a delicious lunch of stew and bannock.
The "Unsettling" of the Prairies
Following lunch, David Neufeld talked about the need for First Nation and Metis peoples to tell their own difficult histories, as Euro-settler progeny have difficulty telling the story of the unsettling of the prairies. First Nation and Metis elders should not be afraid to tell their stories of times of trauma. The words are hurtful, but the message is highly significant.
James Wilson - Manitoba’s Treaty Relations Commissioner
Mr. Wilson talked on a variety of topics, including the history of the Numbered Treaties and the Indian Act, and an explanation of the impact of these documents on today’s events.
He emphasized that First Nation’s people have a long history of negotiating treaties, and he explained that the purpose of the Treaty Commission is to give both perspectives in a neutral & independent manner. He outlined how the Royal Proclamation of 1763 was important in that it created the legal framework under which treaty rights were recognized and confirmed.
He reviewed some of the purposes of the treaties and explained how through successive bargaining, new clauses were brought into the dialog such as the provision of schools & agricultural equipment, that continue to play a role today.
Mr. Wilson also offered his unique perspective on early First Nations history; about the successful civilizations in pre-Columbus America and the role of both oral history and archaeology in telling those stories.
Metis-in-the-Schools presenter Grant Armstrong brought a wide selection of display items to the conference. He talked about the stringent criteria now regulating the trapping industry. Licenses registered trappers generate $3 million yearly, providing raw materials to the garment industry. One item shown was a western boot made of leather from beaver tail and steer-hide for the upper parts of the boots. Grant spoke about the importance of respect within the industry – not only respect for the environment but for the people.