There is a lot of buzz about the Bell of Batoche.
A decades-long mystery on where the bell is and where it is going is expected to be solved on Friday during a news conference at a church in St. Boniface, Manitoba.
There have been false starts in the past, but a Saskatchewan man with inside information expects this will be the real deal.
Darren Prefontaine is the curriculum development officer with the Gabriel Dumont Institute in Saskatoon. He has known for months that something is coming up:
“I have known for some time who is involved and generally where it is. It’s a secret that is shared by many people that are in the Metis community.”
The Bell of Batoche was taken as a war trophy in 1885 after the final battle of the Northwest Rebellion between Metis and Canadian troops at Batoche. It eventually ended up at a legion in Millbrook, Ontario, but went missing in 1991. A press advisory indicates an announcement will be made Friday morning regarding the return of the bell to Batoche.
Prefontaine cautions there have been reports of the bell being returned before, but this time he says there is more credibility and a far greater chance that it will actually happen. He says it would go a long way in healing past wounds:
“I am hoping that it will be a good ceremony, and I am hoping that it will lead to some reconciliation — because there are still some long-term consequences that came out of the 1885 Resistance that all of us here out in the west have lived through, and maybe this will be some sort of healing gesture that we can all move on from that part of our terrible history.”
In Batoche, there is a lot of excitement. On Friday, there will be a major celebration of National Aboriginal Day, but the talk of the town is all about the bell.
Bishop Albert Thevenot from the Diocese of Prince Albert is also scheduled to take part in an event in Batoche this weekend, adding more credibility to the story that the long missing bell will again grace the church from which it was taken 128 years ago.