I would like to dispute some of the information in Alexandra Paul's July 23 report, Story of historic Bell of Batoche's seizure disputed (July 23). I went to Batoche with the Union Nationale Métisse St. Joseph du Manitoba, the oldest Métis organization in Western Canada, last weekend. I attended the ceremony in which BillyJo Delaronde returned the bell to the Bishop of Prince Albert.
The bishop played an important role in arranging the repatriation of this important Métis symbol, and people I talked to gave him a lot of credit for making the bell public since its disappearance in 1991.
Delaronde did not say in his speech that they sprinkled tobacco on the floor and then went and took the bell. What he was describing was a trip with four friends who were in Ontario at Métis meetings about the constitution.
They knew a woman who was a Second World War veteran and a member of that legion. Otherwise, they probably would have had difficulty getting in to see the bell.
The sign outside Millbrook said: "No Dogans allowed." Dogan is a derogatory term for Roman Catholic. They went to see the bell and had their picture taken with it. It was not removed at that time. It was taken at another time.
Delaronde did not describe the actual break-in, and it was not suggested who was involved in breaking into the legion. It has been rumoured for some time, however, that he was keeping it safe, and in the program, he was described as the "keeper of the bell."
I also object to Paul's use of the word "heist," since the bell was stolen in the first place from the church and taken as war booty.