There’s a growing push to pardon Chief Poundmaker, who was convicted of treason for his role in the 1885 Northwest Resistance.
Many believe he was a peacemaker who saved lives, not a traitor.
Poundmaker was jailed, and died soon after his release from prison.
“He needs to be reconsidered in history, pardoned, and declared completely innocent from everything history holds against him. We should celebrate his life,” said Blaine Favel, a former chief of both the Poundmaker Cree Nation and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).
A petition posted to change.org has over 1,100 signatures as of Wednesday morning.
The campaign was developed on behalf of the chief, council and citizens of the Poundmaker Cree Nation.
Favel is among those hoping the petition campaign can convince the federal government to issue a pardon.
“He’s a tragic figure – he paid the price for colonialism,” Favel told Global News.
“He didn’t do anything wrong… I think the people who should have been imprisoned are the people who signed the treaty, and didn’t implement them.”
Favel said Poundmaker was a peacemaker who sought reconciliation and he deserves to be exonerated.
“You can’t build a country by making promises and then reneging on them.”
“I’d like to have him exonerated, get an apology for him … he was a great Canadian and should be recognized as such.”
The petition on change.org is growing in popularity and will soon be translated into multiple languages, according to Favel.
“We think that if we don’t get a million signatures, I’d be surprised … he’ll probably be the most famous Indigenous leader from Canada and perhaps the world once we’re done our social media campaign,” Favel said.
The campaign organizers plan to deliver the petition to the prime minister, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs, and the minister of justice and attorney general of Canada.