Chief Poundmaker Exoneration

Description of Chief Poundmaker Exoneration

"We all know the story about the man who sat by the trail too long, and then it grew over, and he could never find his way again. We can never forget what has happened, but we cannot go back. Nor can we just sit beside the trail."

Chief Poundmaker (Pîhtokahanapiwiyin)

Looking back: brief history of Chief Poundmaker

August 1876 (Treaty talks at Fort Carlton)
Chief Poundmaker calls for treaty benefits for future generations of Cree and for government to honour its treaty promises

Winter 1885
Depleted bison, cuts to government aid and treaty disputes lead to tensions and conflict across the prairies

March 1885 (Battleford)
Chief Poundmaker seeks rations for his starving community, but is wrongly accused of looting and then pursued by government troops

May 2, 1885 (Battle site hill on reserve)
Chief Poundmaker does not participate in battle but saves lives by convincing community's warriors not to attack retreating government troops

May 26, 1885 (Battleford)
Chief Poundmaker tries to negotiate peace agreement with the government, but he and his followers are arrested

August 1885 (Regina)
Fuelled by mistrust and misunderstanding, the Court wrongfully convicts Chief Poundmaker of treason-felony; his sentence is 3 years in prison

July 1886
Although released early from prison due to deteriorating health, Chief Poundmaker dies 4 months later; his loss still impacts his people today.

Path to the exoneration and beyond
Poundmaker Cree Nation has long sought justice for past wrongs related to the unjust conviction and imprisonment of their honoured Chief

Feb. 2018
Reconciliation talks begin with focus on exoneration

Feb. to Mar. 2019
Elder and community input on the exoneration

May 2019
Federal apology and exoneration of Chief Poundmaker

Looking Ahead
Joint work will continue to advance reconciliation

"In 1885, Chief Poundmaker was treated as a criminal and a traitor.

In 2019, we recognize the truth…

Chief Poundmaker was a peacemaker…

Chief Poundmaker is fully exonerated of any crime or wrongdoing."

Statement of Exoneration, 2019

Historical photos courtesy of Chief Poundmaker Museum and Historic Site and landscape photos are courtesy of Poundmaker Cree Nation

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