My Story About Canada
By: Sean Steeves
The Fur Trade
A new group of aboriginal peoples had arisen from the French moving into native lands, looking for furs to trade, and ending up taking native wives. Gradually, this mix between the French and Aboriginal came the Metis. In the early 1800`s, this joining of Aboriginal and European was important because it introduced trading to them, and the Europeans noticed that the Aboriginals had unique skills that could benefit themselves. They would hunt animals on their own land and usually trade it to people whom they had agreements with. Soon, the Native Peoples had become dependant on trading posts for firearms, ammunition and European food. Because they devoted so much time to the Fur Trade, they didn't have time to hunt for their own food as they had in the past. Now, they no longer had an economy on shared food, it turned into an economy based on individual profits from furs.
North West from 1800-1860
By 1810, those of European and First Nations were calling themselves Metis (The French word for "Mixed") By 1810, a large number of Metis had settled in the Red River Valley. Here they developed a way of life that was a unique combination of First Nations and European traditions. They established farms along both banks along the sides of the rivers. The Metis also hunted Bison and by 1820, the bison hunt had become a central part of the Metis life. Out of these bison, the Metis made pemmican and robes which they would sell to the NWC. This was very important because soon the Metis way of life would become very dependant on the pemmican trade. Pemmican was high in calories and protein, it was also portable and could be stored in leather bags for years, much like protein bars today. These hunts were very important because it included the entire community working together to hunt them. Woman and children drove Red river carts, pulled by either horses or oxen, and they were used to transport meat. Men rode buffalo runners, which were horses with high speed and agility specially trained for the hunt.
In about 1821, the British feared that they would lose all of the land in the North West. So, the British Government forced the NWC and HBC to merge companies. This new company, that kept the HBC name, gained over 7 million square kilometres of land of which is now Canada
The Selkirk Settlement
Colonists moving to the Red River Valley
Around October, 1812, more than 100 men, women, and children had arrived. They seemed to be doing very well, with the exception of crops. They had already failed once and in fear of them failing again, Miles Macdonnel issued the Pemmican Proclamation in January 1814, effectively banning the sale and export of pemmican from the Red River Valley for 1 year. This was meant to protect the colonists from starvation, but it was a blow to the Metis of the area, who made a living from pemmican trade. This lead to a very important battle between the Metis with the NWC, and the people living in the Selkirk Settlement. This was called the battle of Seven Oaks. The Metis eventually won, killing Robert Semple, a new governor for the colony, and 20 of his men. The result of this battle, was Selkirk negotiating a treaty with the First Nations in 1817, and them being able to live in peace.