Manitoba premier kicks off 3-day cycling 'journey of reconciliation'
160-kilometre bike ride to mark 200th anniversary of Selkirk Treaty
He won't actually hit the road until Friday, but Premier Brian Pallister officially kicked off a three-day bike ride marking the 200th anniversary of a historic Manitoba treaty on Thursday.
In honour of the 1817 Selkirk Treaty, the Manitoba premier will cycle what he called a 160 kilometre "journey of reconciliation" from the former site of Peguis First Nation in East Selkirk to the community's present site in the north Interlake. He said he can't disclose the actual route for security reasons.
He added the ride is also intended to honour of Chief Peguis, who helped provide food and shelter to Selkirk settlers as they arrived in Manitoba from Scotland and Ireland between 1812 and 1815.
"The story of Manitoba is one of centuries of friendship and partnership between Indigenous people and those who arrived after them, and that partnership is the bedrock on which our strong and beautiful province was built and upon which it will grow and thrive," he said.
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"It's an enduring relationship that we should celebrate, and this weekend with this journey, it is in that spirit that we will celebrate those accomplishments."
Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization and Brokenhead Ojibway Nation Chief Jim Bear joined Pallister at the kickoff.
Peguis First Nation Chief Glenn Hudson wasn't present. Pallister said Hudson was unavailable Thursday but that he'd had a "great visit" with the chief a few weeks ago.
Symbolic effort a 'starting point'
The bike ride has been criticized by a Peguis band member and the head of Manitoba's Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives as a simply symbolic gesture.
Pallister said the gesture is still important.
"What Justice [Murray] Sinclair and others have said is these symbolic efforts are important as a starting point to further relationship building," he said.
"You don't build a relationship in one day and you don't do it with just this type of thing. As both chiefs have said, it takes a partnership and an ongoing effort, so that's our commitment. This is just one aspect of that commitment."
With files from Jillian Taylor