Celebrating Métis success on the anniversary of the Victory of Frog Plain
Over 1,400 self-identified Métis students attend the University of Manitoba’s campuses. We are privileged to have many Métis in places of leadership at our institution, including the Vice President, Indigenous, Dr. Catherine Cook; Director of the Indigenous Student Centre, Christine Cyr; and Randy Hermann, Director of the Engineering Access Program (ENGAP). We are the only institution in Canada to have a Métis Inclusion Coordinator, a position funded in partnership with the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF). The very first graduate from the University of Manitoba was William Reginald Gunn, a Métis scholar. Our campus is deeply connected to the Métis, and we wanted to celebrate alongside the Métis on June 19th, 2020.
Revitalizing language and speaking the words of our ancestors in Michif honors the Métis that have come before us. The Indigenous student Ccentre, MMF Bison Local, Metis University Student Association (MUSA), and Native studies department will be hosting a virtual Introductory Michif lesson connecting to a historic day in Métis history – the second virtual lesson since COVID-19 isolation began. Last year, this collective offered a free Michif lesson on May 12th – a day celebrating the Manitoba Act receiving Royal Assent and a victory for the Métis government in 1850. Over 80 people from across Canada attended to engage in Michif with Native Studies Michif Instructor, Heather Souter. Due to the success of the first lesson, the collective was inspired to create a follow-up event on June 19th – the anniversary of the Victory of Frog Plain.
Unfamiliar with the victory? The lens in which the history of the event has been taught for 200 years could be to blame. The Victory of Frog Plain, as it is known to the Métis, is often referred to as the Battle (or massacre) of Seven Oaks. Louis Riel Institute Metis historian Lawrence J. Barkwell wrote Paashkiiyaakanaan daan la prayrii di la goornouyar: We Won at Frog Plain, outlining the historical perspective of the Métis on the events that transpired. Each year the Manitoba Metis Federation celebrates the event on the corner of Main St. and Rupertsland Blvd; this year is no exception. Members of the Métis community will come and honor their ancestors, who stood up for Métis rights. Many UM Métis students are connected to this history – James Lavallee (Kinesiology), Thomas Roberts (Medicine), and myself (Ph.D, Arts) included. Our ancestor, Joseph Huppe, fought alongside Cuthbert Grant whose descendant, Nicki Ferland, works at the University of Manitoba in the land-based education program.
You can catch Métis Inclusion Coordinator Laura Forsythe’s Instagram takeover on June 19 by following @umindigenous. She will feature live updates on the Introductory Michif language event and other Métis celebrations taking place that day, including the MMF’s Victory of Frog Plain Commemoration Ceremony event.