The location of the Bell of Batoche is still a mystery, but after a trip to a Manitoba prison, the president of the Manitoba Métis Federation says he has some new leads to help him find it.
The famous bell has special significance to Métis people because Canadian soldiers took it from a church in the Métis community of Batoche, Sask. during the last battle of the 1885 North West Rebellion.
The silver-plated bell was brought east as a war trophy and eventually ended up on display in a Royal Canadian Legion hall in Millbrook, Ont. It was stolen from the hall in 1991, a few days after several Métis leaders had photographs taken with it.
David Chartrand visited the Stony Mountain Institution, north of Winnipeg, Monday to meet with Gary Guiboche, an inmate who recently admitted to being involved in the theft of the bell.
"It was understood they would 'lay low,' is the phrase that he used, until a certain time, and then they would give it back to the people. But he said 14 years is too long to lay low," Chartrand said after the meeting.
Chartrand says Guiboche, who is serving time for killing his common-law wife, told him he would not "snitch" on the person who helped him get the steal the bell – instead he would only give Chartrand some "hints" to follow.
"I'm hoping that if he's sincere about what I've been told, and I think he is, that we might just get lucky, and if we are lucky, then we'll have a very good day in Manitoba, and the nation will have a very good day," Chartrand said.
Chartrand refused to talk about the hints, for fear doing so would drive the person who has the bell further into hiding. He did say he believes the bell is somewhere in Manitoba.
Chartrand says the Métis nation wants the bell returned, and it's time for it to "come home."