WINNIPEG – It was a small battle at the corner of what is now Main Street and Rupertsland Boulevard 200 years ago.
But the feud between fur trading companies is important in the history of the Metis people.
The anniversary of the Battle of Seven Oaks will be celebrated Sunday with a new monument unveiled at the battle site.
The battle was a violent confrontation between the Hudson’s Bay Company, which employed the Selkirk settlers, and the North West Company, which employed the Metis.
For years, it was described as a massacre, as 21 Hudson’s Bay men died on one side, one Metis man on the other.
But a report commissioned by Lower Canada and written by William Coltman in 1818 found that it was truly a battle, not a massacre – the Metis did not fire the first shot.
Manitoba Metis Federation Minister Will Goodon says the battle and resulting victory helped shape the Metis identity.
“The battle marked the pivotal turning point and really sparked an idea in the minds of the Metis people that they were a people… It was also the first time that the Metis flew that national flag and that also gave them an idea that they had an identity, that they were a people, and they were something to be reckoned with, not just a people that could be run over,” he said.
The Coltman report and a some maps of the battle are on display at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights until June 23rd.
Library and Archives Canada has also digitized the report online in honour of the anniversary.