1845 Alexander Christie Political and Economic Rights of the Peoples of the NWT
Letter from Alex. Christie, Governor of Assiniboia, to Messrs. James Sinclair, Bapti Larocque, Thomas Logan and others.
Fort Garry, Red River, 5 September 1845
Gentlemen, I received your letter of 29th Ultimo on the evening of the 3rd instant; and I am sure that the solemn and important proceedings in which I was yesterday engaged, will form a sufficient apology for my having allowed a day to pass without noticing your communications.-- However unusual it may be for the rulers of any country to answer legal queries, in any other way than through the Judicial tribunals which alone can authoritatively decide any point of law, I shall on his particular occasion overlook all those considerations, which might otherwise prompt me to decline with all due courtesy the discussion of your letter; and I am rather induced to adopt this course by your avowal for which I am bound to give you full credit, that you are actuated by an unwillingness to do any thing in opposition either to the Laws of England, or to the Hudson's Bay Company's privileges.-- Your first nine queries as well as the body of your letter, are grounded on the supposition, that the HalfBreeds possess certain privileges over their fellow citizens, who have not been born in the coutnry.-- Now as British subjects, the halfbreeds have clearly the same rights in Scotland or in England as any person born in Great Britain; and your own sense of natural justice will at once see, how unreasonable it would be to wish to place Englishmen and Scotchmen on a less favorable footing in Rupert's Land than yourselves.-- Your supposition further seems to draw a distinction between halfbreeds and persons born in the Country of European parentage; and to men of your intelligence I need not say that this distinction is still less reasonable than the other.-- Your tenth query is fully answered in these observations on your first nine queries.-- Your eleventh query, assumes that any purchaser of lands, would have the right to trade furs, if he had not "Willed" it away by assenting to any restrictive condition. Such an assumption, of course, is inadmissible in itself, and inconsistent, even with your own general views, the condition of tenure, which, by the bye, have always been well understood to prohibit any infraction of the Company's privileges, are intended not to bind the individual, who is already bound by the fundamental law of the Country, but merely to secure his lands as special guarantee for the due discharge of such his essential obligation.-- After what has just been said, your twelfth query becomes wholly unimportant.-- Your fourteenth query, which comprises your thirteenth, and, in fact, also all the queries that you either have or could have, proposed, requests me to enumerate the peculiar privileges of the Hudson's Bay Company, on the alleged ground that you know them only by report, considering that you have the means of seeing the charter, and the land-deed, and such enactments of the Council of Ruperts Land as concern your selves and your fellow citizens, and considering further that in point of fact, some of you have seen them, I cannot admit that you require information to the extent, which your profess and even if you did require it, I do not think that I could offer you anything more clear than the documents themselves are, on which any enumeration of the Company's rights must be based. If however any individual among you or among your fellow citizens should at any time feel himself embarrassed in any honest pursuit by legal doubt, I shall have much pleasure in affording him a personal interview.