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Reconciliation Ceremony Marks Historic Apology Between Dakota Plains First Nation and City of Portage La Prairie

Press Release

June 27, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba — The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) commends the Mayor and City Council of Portage la Prairie for officially overturning a law that was created in 1911 forbidding Dakota people to live in the City. The motion, which led to the removal of Dakota people from city limits, was officially rescinded yesterday during a historic Reconciliation Ceremony on the Dakota Plains First Nation. AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick says the decision by Portage City Council to rescind the law and apologize for the racially motivated motion represents a historic step forward for reconciliation efforts in the Portage area.

“This act of rescinding the 1911 motion is a powerful gesture of reconciliation and an overdue acknowledgment of some of the wrongs committed against the Dakota Plains people over a century ago,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs appreciates the leadership shown by the Portage City Council and the Mayor in taking this significant step to acknowledge its true history with the Dakota Plains people. This act of courage and humility sets a powerful example for other communities across Manitoba and Canada who may have racially motivated motions, policies, and procedures still in place.”

“Dakota Plains First Nation, like many of our First Nations relatives across Turtle Island, have endured unimaginable loss. The loss of land is so much more than just land – it’s a disruption of our roles as land protectors, it’s stripped us of economic opportunity associated with the land and the resources, it’s affected cultural continuity, and it’s severed our vital connections to our ancestors,” continued Grand Chief Merrick. “This displacement has also led to long lasting and profound impacts on First Nations, affecting our social structures, traditions, and well-being. Reconciliation efforts, like the one we witnessed in Portage la Prairie, are essential steps toward healing these deep wounds. However, this must be followed by opportunities for economic development to restore what was stripped from the Dakota Plains people when they were forced out of Portage la Prairie.”

The AMC is committed to building positive relationships between First Nations and non-First Nations communities. The rescinding of the 1911 motion demonstrates the progress that can be made when governments stand up to address past injustices and commit to collaboratively working towards a future based on truth, honesty, and mutual respect.

For more information, please contact:

Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
Email:  media@manitobachiefs.com

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