Winnipeg, MB (May 24, 2019): Today, the Manitoba Museum opens a new permanent exhibition – Ni KishKishin, I Remember Ste. Madeleine – in the Parklands/Mixed Woods Gallery to share the displacement story of the Métis people of Ste. Madeleine, MB. In the fall of 1938, the people of Ste. Madeleine, south of Binscarth, Manitoba returned from hunting to find their 35 homes, school, and store burned to the ground so that the place where they lived could be turned into a Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Authority (PFRA) community pasture.
The PFRA was eventually terminated, and the Ste. Madeleine community pasture continues to be a biodiversity hotspot thanks to careful pasture management. The descendants of the dispersed people of Ste. Madeleine, return once a year for Ste. Madeleine Days to tend the graves, tell stories, play music, and remember.
The Ni KishKishin, I Remember Ste. Madeleine exhibition chronicles an example of several such community displacement experiences through personal accounts. It also features artifacts and specimens from the Manitoba Museum’s Cultural Anthropology, Botany, and Zoology collections. Text panels for the Ni KishKishin, I Remember Ste. Madeleine exhibition are written in English, French, and Michif – the language of the Métis people and a first for the Manitoba Museum.
“It takes courage to share these difficult stories but it is essential that they are shared and that we remember. The Manitoba Museum is proud of this exhibition and the role it plays in bringing this Métis story forward,” said Penny McMillan, Vice-Chair of the Manitoba Museum’s Board of Governors.
At a community gathering attended by almost 200 people at the Manitoba Museum, greetings were offered by the Manitoba Métis Federation. Also at the opening event, a brief first-hand account was shared by Elder George Fleury, a survivor of the 1938 tragedy. Elder Verna Demontigny, who translated the touching story into Michif, talked about what it means to the Métis people of Manitoba to be represented at the Museum, and for the exhibition to be accessible in their own language.
“So many Manitobans have not been told the truth about Ste. Madeleine and the devastating impact it had on the Métis People,” said Vice-President Leah LaPlante, MMF Minister of Natural Resources and Citizenship. “Manitobans need to learn this history. It’s crucial to the work of reconciliation. This is very recent history that we have to learn and grow from. I hope all Manitobans will take the time to view this exhibit.”
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