“Great leaders have great fellowship. Big Bear had, at some point, some three thousand followers on the books and four hundred … Eventually, because he took a hard line position, and he understood the long-term ramifications of the policies of the government in getting the treaties signed and limiting Indians to reserves, he lost a great many of his followers because they were starving to death … he kept on wanting to get a better deal than what he had.”
– Jean Allard
Jean Allard is an honorary member of MAWG (Modernized Annuity Reference Group), a founding co-chair of the Treaty Annuity Working Group, and author of Big Bear’s Treaty: The road to freedom. A significant excerpt of the original manuscript was published in the policy journal Inroads in 2002. Jean had a fiery, short-lived political career representing the vast northern riding of Rupertsland in the government of NDP premier Ed Schreyer after being elected to the Manitoba Legislature in 1969. He quit the NDP to sit as an Independent after clashing with the party over Indigenous policy. In 1994, Jean hit upon the idea of modernizing annuities while chained to the statue of Louis Riel to protest its removal from the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature. Jean has a long and deep history in Manitoba’s Métis community. He is a direct descendant of Jean Baptiste Lagimodière and Marie-Anne Gaboury (as is Louis Riel). He served 26 years as president of the Union Nationale Métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba, the oldest Métis organization in Canada.
Elders are very important members of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit communities. The term Elder refers to someone who has attained a high degree of understanding of First Nation, Métis, or Inuit history, traditional teachings, ceremonies, and healing practices. Elders have earned the right to pass this knowledge on to others and to give advice and guidance on personal issues, as well as on issues affecting their communities and nations. First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples value their Elders and all older people, and address them with the utmost respect.