Metis & Non-Status leader, Jim Sinclair Regina March and Honouring 1985 (Riel execution post, Mounted Police Barracks) COMMEMORATION
Jim Sinclair, the late past-president of the Association of Metis and Non Status Indians Saskatchewan (AMNSIS) spent his life championing Métis and Aboriginal rights. In 1967 Jim was elected to the board with the Métis and Non-Status Indians of Saskatchewan – neither of which had any constitutional rights in Canada. Jim would be president of AMNSIS for 18 years working to develop programs at the community level and lobbying for Indigenous Rights internationally.
As president of AMNSIS Jim Sinclair and the honoured Metis activist Harry Daniels established the Native Council of Canada and successfully lobbied to have the Métis included in the Constitution Act in 1882. Jim continually pushed for Canada to honour the Metis and restore their hereditary rights as established by Louis Riel in the Manitoba Act of 1870 and the Canadian Constitution of 1982.
In 1985, on the centennial of the Northwest Resistance, Jim Sinclair was instrumental in ensuring “Back to Batoche 1885 – 1985” was held on the Metis homelands at Batoche in honour of the brave warriors who stood with Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont and opposed Canadian colonialism at the Battle of Batoche. The commemorative event at Batoche was a time of a new re-awakening as Metis all across Canada took huge steps to re-organize as a nation.
On November 16, 1985 AMNSIS president Jim Sinclair led a march down Regina’s Dewdney Avenue out to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) barracks. With Metis flag carriers and drummers leading close to a hundred Metis and friends of Louis Riel gathered at the exact spot where Louis Riel was executed one hundred years earlier.
The commemoration was closed with President Sinclair issuing a call for justice for Louis Riel. Sinclair called on Canada to absolve Louis Riel of the stain of traitor, review Riel’s trial and recognize him as “Canada’s Metis Father of Confederation.” Later in life Jim told the Regina Leader Post, “I always tell people at the community level, ‘You have leaders who fought for your rights for many many years who never made it to be heard, their voices were never heard.” Before his passing in 2012 Jim Sinclair was honoured by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians and the Metis Federation of Saskatchewan.