Yesterday, I pulled into the Elk Point welcome area to stretch my legs. I’d just shut the car door and turned to read the signage when I was accosted from above by a very vocal raven. At first, I wasn’t sure where the kerfuffle was coming from but within seconds, it flew out of the trees behind the Elk Point Centennial sign to land on the hat on Peter Fidler’s head. It was quickly followed by a second raven that perched on the posts to the right of the 32 ft. tall statue.
The Town of Elk Point is located near the historic fur trade competitors Fort George & Buckingham House on the North Saskatchewan River. These old Hudson’s Bay and North West trading companies were responsible for the original fur trade settlements that sprang up in the area in the late 1700s. Peter Fidler was a Hudson’s Bay Company fur trader, explorer, and surveyor. This chainsaw-carved statue commemorates the historic fur trade forts of the region’s past. The Peter Fidler Peace Park was established for Canada’s 125th Centennial:
Elk Point joined with other towns, villages, and cities across Canada in a celebration of Canada’s commitment to peace among all people of the world and peace with our common home and environment… planet Earth.
The Chief Poundmaker Historical Centre sits atop a hill on Poundmaker Cree Nation, SK. Along with the museum and interpretive trail, this site is the final resting place of Pîhtokahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker). Last summer, the Historical Centre and Fort Battleford partnered to present a Storyteller’s Festival, art shows, and concerts but the Historical Centre’s vision is focused on much more than Cree cultural events.
Chief Poundmaker was wrongfully convicted of treason in 1885 following the Northwest Resistance. He served only one year of a three year sentence at the Stony Mountain Penitentiary near Winnipeg due to contracting tuberculosis. Upon his release, he journeyed from his people’s reserve near Battleford to his stepfather Crowfoot’s reserve at Blackfoot Crossing. He died within a few months of his arrival and was buried there.
In 1967, Chief Poundmaker’s remains were interred on this hill in Poundmaker Cree Nation.
In 2018, the Federal government agreed to “move forward with Poundmaker Cree Nation to develop a joint statement of exoneration for Chief Poundmaker.” This agreement is the result of more than 25 years of lobbying by leaders for the truth of Poundmaker’s legacy as a peacemaker to be acknowledged and to be represented in the history books. Ultimately, the wish is that the repatriated artifacts be housed in a new modern building that meets international museum standards. The process will begin to move forward once Chief Poundmaker’s exoneration has been made official on May 2, 2019.
All photos, except where noted, copyright D. MacLeod. All rights reserved.