Battleford – 134 years ago today, the largest mass execution in Canadian history took place at Fort Battleford, in Saskatchewan. Warriors, who had fought alongside Louis Riel from the Cree Nation were executed for demanding that their collective and individual Human Rights be respected. The hanging were an aftermath of the 2nd Metis War in 1885 when a large number of Metis and Cree took up arms against the Canadian government for suppressing the Rights of Indigenous people. Louis Riel was the leader who was also hung on November 14, 1885.
Indians Agents such as Thomas Trueman Quinn had been killed by the warriors. Quinn was also known as a particularly harsh agent who said “no work, no rations” and kept many Indigenous families near starvation. The following warriors were hung in retribution on this day.
- Kah – Paypamahchukways (Wandering Spirit) for the murder of T. T. Quinn, Indian Agent.
- Pah Pah-Me-Kee-Sick (Walking the Sky) for the murder of Pere Fafard, OMT, RC Priest who had fathered the boy as a youth.
- Manchoose ( Bad Arrow) for the murder of Charles Govin, Quinn’s interpreter.
- Kit-Ahwah-Ke-Ni (Miserable Man) for the murder of Govin.
- Nahpase (Iron Body) for the murder of George Dill, Free Trader.
- A-Pis-Chas-Koos (Little Bear) for the murder of Dill.
- Itka (Crooked Leg) for the murder of Payne, Farm Instructor of the Stoney Reserve south of Battleford.
- Waywahnitch (Man Without Blood) for the murder of Tremont, Rancher out of Battleford.
There noted independence issues with the judiciary. The presiding judge Charles Rouleau was described as a “heavy loser pecuniarily” after the looting of Battleford in the December issue of the Saskatchewan Herald following the hangings. It was questioned if he was too biased to preside over the cases because his house had been burned to the ground, and he reportedly threatened that “every Indian and Half-breed and rebel brought before him after the insurrection was suppressed, would be sent to the gallows if possible.”
Robert-Falcon Ouellette, who is from a local Cree community of Red Pheasant has called for the exoneration of the men. “The execution was clearly an attempt to scare the local population into submission. It is a dark mark upon the history of Canada and I hope one day Canadian will recognize this violent colonial past.” It was also noted that children from the local Battleford Indian Residential School were brought to Fort Battleford to witness the hangings.