Friday, 21 June 2013

Marie-Antoinette ~ "lost" & "found"


'This bell will become the living history of our people.'—Guy Savoie, of Union Nationale Metisse Saint-Joseph du Manitobaimage & quote also from cbc

The bell was stolen by soldiers as a spoil of war after the defeat of the Metis at the Battle of Batoche in May, 1885. It was hidden in Millbrook Ontario and for some years, tolled from the tower of the town’s Fire Hall. It was later then put on public display at the Legion.
Whoever repatriated the Bell of Batoche is far from being a thief. He is a hero and will be seen as such by the vast majority of the Metis, especially those to whom the bell is most significant; those of Batoche and all its surround communities who see the bell as a reminder of the once tranquil way of life of the Metis people who heard the bell call them to the church for mass and benediction; and the ringing of the bell to sound the alarm of the arrival of General Middleton and his troops.
Thank you to all involved for allowing this wonderful saga to come full circle.  In particular to the Metis hero who has now made it possible for the return of this most significant artifact which is of such historic importance and value  to the Metis people.
~ Tony Belcourt, excerpt from The Return of The Bell of Batoche


Métis (do's + don'ts)

I am with the elders who show pleasure in the heroic 
re-acquisition of the bell. 
Repeated requests refused or ignored
disrupt diplomacy
setting the stage for creative problem-solving, 
show of initiative in restoring balance.
~JA




From the archives:  The year was 1884 in a small settlement in the North-West at the parish of St. Antoine du Padaue in Batoche. At the time there was great excitement on the completion of the church. Father Julien Moulin wanted a bell to sound in the small bell tower, so the Bishop Vital-Justin Grandin of the diocese of St. Albert purchased a few bells for his missions in the North-West. Oblate records describe the bell-of-batoche as a small silver bell weighing about 20 lbs. It was purchased for the sum of $25.00.

It was customary to "bapitize" the church bells, so Bishop Grandin on September 2, 1884 baptized the small bell "Marie-Antoinette." Marie-Antoinette's god-parents were Xavier Letendre dit Batoche and his sister Marie Letendre-Champagne. The honour bestowed on this family was because Xavier had founded the community.

It's interesting to note that the bell reportedly bears an inscription "Vital-Justin Grandin, Eveque de St. Albert" along with the bishops coat of arms. The date of the blessing should also be there as it was customary at the time.

Metis across the country know what happened to this church, community and its people in 1885. Father Moulin reported theft of many articles from the community and the rectory and submitted a claim of $237.00 to the Rebellion Losses Commission.

The repatriation of the bell to the original owner, the parish of St. Antoine du Padaue and its parishioners is at issue here. "Marie-Antoinette" represents great religious and cultural significance to the Metis. It belongs in its rightful place, at Batoche. The bell does not belong in Millbrook, Ont., nor does it belong hidden away as a trophy for a small group or individual. The small silver bell is a Canadian and Metis artifact and should be dropped off with Chief Justice Monnin who has promised there would be no questions asked or it should be given "in trust" to the Minister of Culture-Heritage. 

One hundred and ten years of captivity is enough. The grassroots Metis don't care where the bell is or who has it, they just want it returned to Batoche and to the people. It must be returned to the bell tower so "Marie-Antoinette" can be home to toll proudly once again."

redheartmetis  Uploaded on Aug 11, 2008
Native American Music. 
I wrote this song at the Red River West Metis Rendezvous...
Native, White, and Metis alike got a kick out of it... hope you do too.


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