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The Sessional Journal of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia

The Sessional Journal of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Lawrence J. Barkwell on Nov 16, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Sessional Journal of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia.
President David Chartrand and Premier Greg Selinger unveil the photos of the members of theLegislative Assembly Assiniboia. Photo by Jim Jerome, MMF Communications.
On June 24, 1870 the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia
,led by Louis Riel voted to bring Manitoba into Confederation. On Monday November 16, 2010 the government of Manitoba released its “Manitoba Metis Policy” document and revisited the sessionalrecords of Manitoba’s first elected legislative assembly.The historical documents and photographs at this ceremony include the original sessional journal of the legislative assembly of Assiniboia and a portrait of its members. Thismissing link between the Comité National des Métis and Convention of Forty, commonlyknown as Louis Riel’s provisional government, and the legislative assembly of Manitoba,was discovered and interpreted by a team of researchers in the summer of 2010, the
Year of the Métis
. The records show the legislative assembly of Assiniboia was formed during the RedRiver Resistance and ratified the Manitoba Act in June of 1870, allowing Manitoba’sentry into Confederation. In making the transition from martial law to representativedemocracy in a period of months, and ultimately negotiating terms acceptable to the RedRiver settlers it represented, the assembly is a unique political body in Canadian history.
The Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia functioned between March 9, 1870 and June 24, 1870.
Eric Robinson, minister of Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, left, and Premier Greg Selinger receive a Red River Cart axle mace from Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand. (Photo byKen Gigliotti,
Winnipeg Free Press
). This is a replica, made by Armand Jerome, of the first mace broughtinto the legislative assembly by the Metis in 1870.
The display will be permanently located near the member’s gallery at the ManitobaLegislative Building that includes portraits of every member of the Legislative Assemblyof Manitoba since 1871.
“On Monday, standing before a legislature podium draped with a red l'assumption sash, provincial andMétis leaders declared that the long-awaited Manitoba Métis Policy, first recommended by an aboriginal justice commission in 2001 and promised by Gary Doer's government in 2008, was finally reality.Something else was unveiled at Monday's announcement: the sessional journal of the legislativeassembly of Assiniboia. Unearthed this summer and scoured by historian Norma Hall, the journal isthe formal record of the 1870 government, led by Louis Riel, that voted to join Canada and thenquietly slipped off the pages of history.The document, historians say, is a “missing link” between records of a restive Red River valley andthe new province of Manitoba. “A legislature is a big thing. You might think historians couldn't loseone,” quipped University of Manitoba historian Gerald Friesen, who helped review the journal. “TheMétis people never forgot about the legislative assembly of Assiniboia. But that understanding fadedin the rest of the community.”
 Now, the journal sheds fresh light on a founding government where Métis and settlers workedtogether to bring the Red River territory out of martial law and into the confederation of Canada.It was a sophisticated affair, the journal shows: purposefully split between French and Englishrepresentatives, the assembly members called themselves “Honourable,” drew up a constitution, passed laws and debated land claims in English, French and an aboriginal language. They appointed postmasters, magistrates and a secretary of state; as the summer of 1870 wore on, they complainedabout the mosquitoes. Notably, the journal shows how leaders vowed to put Red River's fractious past to rest, thoughCanada's government never did the same. “Let us be friends -- and let our friendship be hearty andsincere,” Riel urged the cross-cultural assembly; other delegates declared the groups were now “on perfect good terms.”It wouldn't last. Within the year, Riel and his allies were exiled from the new province; 15 years later,he was hanged for treason. Many of the assembly's elected officials soon died, possibly of tuberculosis; Canadians from the east moved in to reshape Manitoba's story, and few remembered theassembly of Assiniboia. Now, through the journal’s rediscovery and the Métis Policy’s mandate to recognize Métiscontributions to Manitoba, the provisional government's memory is coming back into focus. The journal will be transcribed, published and put online: the story it tells, historians say, could change theway young Manitobans learn about Riel, the Métis, and the province itself.“It's a gap that's being filled,” said Saint-Boniface Museum director Philippe Mailhot. “It makesthings easy. Now in schools, they'll say ‘well gee, if it was supposed to be French and English fightingeach other, how come in this assembly they were working things out?’ It all has to do witheducation.”Melissa Martin
Winnipeg Free Press
 November 16, 2010 (pg. B1)
Reference: Norma Hall, “A History of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia / leConseil du Gouvernement Provisoire.” Winnipeg: Government of Manitoba 2010.3

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