Toronto mayor apologizes to Metis Nation of Ontario for 1885 Northwest Resistance

Toronto Mayor John Tory has apologized for the city’s role in arming and celebrating a Canadian militia that suppressed a Metis rebellion in 1885.

Tory addressed Toronto’s contribution to the Northwest Resistance on Friday while speaking at the Metis Nation of Ontario’s Annual General Assembly.

The Northwest Resistance was an armed conflict between the followers of Metis leader and politician Louis Riel and a Canadian militia, in what is now Saskatchewan, that lasted from March to May 1885 and culminated in Riel’s surrender and hanging.

In his apology, Tory said the Metis people were fighting for rights to their land after an influx of settlers and a decline in bison threatened their survival.

The mayor said Toronto contributed to militarized action against Metis people by providing supplies to volunteer troops sent to quash the rebellion, and later held a parade and put up a statue to honour the soldiers. He said that statue still stands today.

Tory said all of these actions by the city contributed to a hostile environment for the Metis people here, forcing them to hide their identities for fear of reprisal — something he said has affected their community and culture to this day.

Margaret Froh, president of the Metis Nation of Ontario, thanked Tory for the apology and said many people lack an understanding of the lingering effects of colonialism on Metis people in the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 19, 2022.

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