When the Authorities inaugurated the Constitution of the Province of Manitoba, instead of granted freedom to all, especially to those with whom it had made agreements, it issued writs of arrest against them, circulated false reports, ill-treated the very people to whom it had pledged peace, and persecuted its leaders. It must have gone far in its bad faith since Archibald, its Lieutenant-Governor, disgusted by such policies, reproached it bitterly, saying, "At the same time as you set up courts and institutions to represent the people, you erect scaffold for its leaders. You sow thistles, so you cannot expect to reap figs. You will never gather grapes from the thorns of your conduct." With that, he returned to his home in Nova Scotia. Such independence is an honourable as it is rare!
The Manitoba Metis never had any satisfaction. The Government neither protected them nor gave them justice. It oppressed them and it might be said, having made their country unliveable for them, distributed some land, delaying the granting of titles and patents so long, that they were either forced to sell their landed property at half or quarter-price, or were even reduced to the extremity of abandoning all.
Can it be said, for example, that Maxime Lepine had no right to participate in the Saskatchewan movement, he who had seen the Ottawa Government trample underfoot the 1870 Treaty and condemn his brother Ambroise Didyme Lepine to death? Can it be said that he had no right to help the Metis of the North-West, he who had seen the Authorities make mockery of Manitoba and anger it, by depriving forever of his political rights the same Ambroise Didyme Lepine, one of its leading men. Since there was not enough public support to hang him for having defended his country, it tried to take revenge by revoking his right to vote and to get votes. And this profanation of a people's trust took place after a meeting where a friendly understanding had apparently been reached!
Maxime Lepine is in prison for seven years. Is he a criminal? NO, he is an honest citizen. Is he a rebel? No, he is a friend of social order, a defender of innate and undeniable right. He is a courageous man, of whom Saskatchewan and the North-West are proud.
Moise Ouellette was in Manitoba fifteen years age. But in the ensuing years he had to leave. The vicious government system, popular in that province, has undertaken as much as possible to uproot all the Metis families settled there and to drive them away.
How has the Government treated Ouellette with regard to the 1870 stipulations? Well, it contested the rights of the "scrip" of one of his dead children.
Moise Ouellette had at home with him both his parents, well-advanced in age. Their "scrips" were stolen at the Land Titles Office in Winnipeg. For years he asked for these "scrips". He was told each time that they had been stolen. To be sure, he could clearly see that they had been stolen. But that was no satisfaction.
Can it be said that this man was not justified in participating in that constitutional unrest in Saskatchewan where he had, in a way, taken refuge? Moise Ouellette was among those who came to get me in Montana. And when the Ottawa Government sought to answer our petitions by arrests with armed forces, Ouellette did like the others and stood up for his rights. His father, a good old God-fearing man, gave up his life on the battlefield at over eighty-three years of age for the good cause. Honour be to such old age! As for his son, he is in the penitentiary.
The parish of Saint-Louis de Langevin, sold by the Government with its people as one sells land with its cattle, will never have a better reason in the future to take up arms than at that time. Two of these brave people, Isidore Boyer and Swan, shed their blood to defend all that is sacred in the home. Three were condemned to cells and seven or eight scattered or exiled.
That is how the Authorities have been civilizing the North-West for fifteen years.
In short, as far as possible, governmental policy is opposed to the rights of the people. It makes open warfare on the sanctity of treaties, like the one it made with the Metis in 1870, which seems to have been concluded with the aim of abusing their good faith, of gaining peaceable entry into their country, of demanding their money or their life.
Moreover, when in 1870, England requested permission for its troops and those of the Canadian Government to cross American soil at Sault Ste-Marie, on their way to the North-West, the United States Government, honourably concerned about the purpose of this expedition, refused passage over the Republic’s territory, until such time as the English Ministers informed them the purpose of these troops. The official answer was that it was an expedition for peace and civilization. But the years and the facts have proven that England lied to the American Government on that occasion; that it asked a favour from the United States under false pretences, and having obtained that favour, both England and Confederation daily abused it to evade constantly the vigilance of the Washington Government, by governing the North-West and the Metis in a despotic manner, totally contrary to the principles and aspirations of the United States of America.
Translated by Elizabeth Maquet. 1982