'Why a bike trip?' Peguis member questions Manitoba premier's commemorative ride
Premier Brian Pallister plans to pedal thank-you letters on a three-day journey to mark the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Selkirk Treaty.
Pallister announced Monday that he will hop a bicycle for a three-day ride between the original and current Peguis First Nation reserves this summer.
"The legacy of an extraordinary friendship between Lord Selkirk and Chief Peguis laid the foundation for what would later become Manitoba," he said at a news conference at William Whyte School.
"The story of Manitoba is one of centuries of compassion, friendship and partnership between Indigenous Manitobans and those who arrived after them. That partnership is the bedrock on which our strong and beautiful province was built."
Pallister invited Manitobans to participate in the event by submitting letters of thanks to be taken on the journey.
"Dear Chief Peguis, thank you for helping the Selkirk settlers to survive the first few years in Canada," he read from a letter written by a student from William Whyte School's Grade 4/5 class.
"Without you and your generosity, many of them would have died. Because of this friendship and support from 200 years ago, many of the first settlers' descendants still live in Manitoba."
Earlier this year, the premier sent letters to Manitoba school divisions and a variety of organizations inviting them to share their own letters of support.
The letters from the Grade 4/5 class at William Whyte School in Winnipeg's Point Douglas community inspired Monday's visit.
"On behalf of the Southern Chiefs' Organization, we acknowledge the premier's gesture to educate and provide understanding of the Selkirk Treaty of 1817 and of the true history of our people's partnership," said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization, who also attended the press conference.
"This is an opportune time for all Manitobans to reflect on the importance of what occurred 200 years ago."
When the Selkirk settlers arrived in Manitoba from Scotland and Ireland between 1812 and 1815, Chief Peguis helped provide food and shelter for them.
In 1817, Lord Selkirk signed a treaty with five Indigenous leaders to grant each land, which included land at St. Peter's in East Selkirk for Chief Peguis's band.
Pallister's 160-kilometre ride will take place June 16-18, between the original St. Peter's Reserve in East Selkirk and the current location of Peguis First Nation in the Interlake.