Reading #9: National Committee of the Métis

Pelletier, Joanne. Red River Insurgence 1869-70. Regina: The Gabriel Dumont Institute, 1985.  Reprinted with permission.

 

On October 16, 1869, the National Committee of the Metis was formed. John Bruce was elected as their first President and Louis Riel was elected Secretary. At a meeting of the Committee on October 21, 1869, the following notice was drafted:

Dated at St. Norbert, Red River, this 21st day of October, 1869.

 

Sir,

The National Committee of the Metis of Red River orders William McDougall not to enter the Territory of the North-West without special permission of the above-mentioned committee.

By order of the President, John Bruce.

Louis Riel, Secretary.8

 

 

On October 30, 1869, a Metis courier delivered the notice to McDougall as he arrived at the border village of Pembina. McDougall went as far as an abandoned Hudson's Bay post just inside the Canadian border, but dared to go no further. On November 2,1869, he was ordered to leave the North-West by an armed guard of 14 Metis led by Ambroise Lepine. McDougall retreated to Pembina in North Dakota. Later the same day, Riel and 120 armed Metis occupied Fort Garry without opposition.

 

On November 6, 1869, the National Committee of the Metis issued an invitation to the English-speaking residents in the settlement to send delegates to participate in a council to be held November 16 at the Court House in Fort Garry. The purpose of the council was to discuss "the present political state of this country and to adopt such measures as may be deemed best for the future welfare of the same."9

 

Delegates from the French and English-speaking communities met on November 16, 1869. It was Riel's belief that a unified body of all of the communities in the Red River settlement would provide a strong voice in negotiations with the Canadian government. At this meeting Riel put forth the proposal that a provisional government be established as the means of negotiating with the Canadian government. The two groups could not come to an agreement so they adjourned to allow time to consider the proposal (pp. 12).