The lands of Batoche National Historic Site, an area important and dear to the Métis of Saskatchewan, will once again be transferred to Métis control, the federal government announced Friday.
A federal news release says the transfer will include 690 hectares of land in Batoche, located 78 kilometers north of Saskatoon.
No fixed date for the transfer has yet been announced.
“The Batoche lands have always been important to our Métis citizens, our history and the resistance,” Métis Nation of Saskatchewan President Glen McCallum said in a statement.
“The repatriation of Batoche lands is tangible and paves the way for reconciliation.”
McCallum said the Métis will determine what is the best use of the repatriated lands and the ultimate sacrifices of their ancestors will be honored.
The Métis Nation – Saskatchewan will be specifically responsible for the lands to the west of the national historic site.
Batoche was founded in 1872 by Xavier Letendre, a Métis merchant who established a ferry service on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River in a village he nicknamed Batoche.
It was at Batoche that Louis Riel, Gabriel Dumont and a Métis provisional government fought the armed forces of the federal government, marking the end of the 1885 Northwest Resistance.
“These lands hold deep cultural, spiritual and historical significance to the citizens of the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan,” the federal government statement said.
“Parks Canada has a long history of working with the Métis at Batoche National Historic Site, and this land transfer and commitment to collaborative management marks an important milestone in the ongoing relationship”
In 1996, the federal government transferred the Back to Batoche festival grounds to Métis ownership. These lands are now managed by the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan. In 1998, Parks Canada and the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan entered into a shared management partnership agreement to maintain the historic site.
Minister of Northern Affairs, Prairies and Economic Development Canada Daneil Vandal and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada and Parks Canada Steven Guilbeault attended the 50th annual Return to Batoche event on Friday at the venue National Historic Site, where the announcement was made.
The event celebrates Métis culture, honors Métis veterans, and gives Métis people an opportunity to reconnect with their homeland.