Mosquito, Grizzly Bear’s Head, Lean Man’, Sweetgrass, Poundmaker, Little Pine, Moosomin, Red Pheasent. and Littleman, are reserves surrounding the Battlefords. The total population including North Battlefords population in 2016 was 13,567 with 3,860 of those identified as Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit).
A community with a longstanding history with the First Nations, North Battleford has endured many hardships, confrontations and conflicts. The main of which were regarding the mistreatment of First Nations and Métis peoples. Famine caused First Nations to travel from their communities to Battleford, which led to them, join Louis Riel’s resistance. This culminated to ‘The Battle of Cut Knife’ and ‘Battle of Batoche’, both infamous battles that set president for Canada’s relationship to Indigenous peoples in that area. These battles led to leader Poundmaker surrendering to the governing bodies at the time. These two events had showed the unwarranted fear from local settlers pitting themselves against a starving tribe lead by Poundmaker. Who’s mission was to feed his people. This lead to the ensuing ‘North-West Rebellion’.
Even now, an unspoken unease and tension still exists after these events so long ago. This strain reached a fever pitch when in 2018 when farmer Gerald Stanley killed Colton Boushie and was ruled not-guilty. As of today there are still unanswered questions and heartbreak as the trial played out in an ‘us versus them’ mentality.
Today Poundmaker’s namesake known also as ‘Pîhtokahanapiwiyin’, established the community of North Battleford. The leader was recently exonerated and issued an apology in May 2019 from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after being charged with Treason 134 years prior from the events that transpired. It is his legacy such as this that makes North Battleford an important and significant place. Formally Rupert’s Land, central North America in what is now geographically called the prairies and to the north the Borreal forest, is the birthplace of revolt for the First Nations and Métis who opposed the treatment of their people in the treaties.
Across Canada, communities are continuing to pursue economic growth and land reclamation and Saskatchewan is no different. Agriculture is still the main goal for many First Nation peoples, as well as acquiring more land to give more business opportunities to Band members. With the complete disruption to their traditional lives, the Indigenous Nations in surround the Battlefords, are striving to proliferate and become self-sustaining. Although progress may seem slow, there is much being done, and much hope for a more equal and positive future.