We Were Not the Savages - Burying of the Hatchet Ceremony of 1761 and the Royal Proclamation 1763
On October 19, 1760, Governor Charles Lawrence died. As the second
most senior official in the province Justice Jonathan Belcher became acting
governor. On November 21, 1761, Belcher was sworn in as lieutenant governor.
He was previously appointed, in 1754, Chief Justice of the new Nova Scotia
Supreme Court. His most infamous deed while filling this position occurred
in 1755; he provided Governor Lawrence with a legal opinion supporting the
deportation of the Acadiens.
During the early 1760s, destitute and abandoned by their allies, the Mi’kmaq
accepted that the departure of the French from the province was permanent.
After accepting this, at the urging of their priest Antoine-Simon Maillard, they
also faced reality and concluded that their war with the British was hopeless.
Thus, they opted to lay down their arms permanently and seek peace.
At this time of agony for their Nation, Father Maillard provided muchneeded
moral and spiritual assistance. He was one of the few Caucasians left in
the province who actually cared about them and their future. Praying that his
efforts would help them salvage something from the ruins of their civilization,
he helped the Mi’kmaq negotiate the peace of 1761. Father Maillard, known
by all as the “Apostle to the Micmac,” died in Halifax on August 12, 1762. The
Mi’kmaq Nation owes him a great debt. Without his efforts, all of our ancestors
may well have perished.
Burying of the Hatchet Ceremony of 1761
On June 25, 1761, a “Burying of the Hatchet Ceremony” was held at the
Governor’s farm in Halifax. During the ceremony, treaties of peace and
friendship were signed between Governor Jonathan Belcher, President of His
Majesty’s Council and Commander-in-Chief of the province, and the Chiefs
from the Mi’kmaq Nations called “Merimichi,” “Jediack,” “Pogmouch,” and
Cape Breton, on behalf of themselves and their people:
The Governor, assisted by His Majesty’s Council, also Major General
Bastide, the Right Honourable, the Lord Colvill, and Colonel Forester,
Commanding Officer of His Majesty’s Forces, and the other Officers and
Principal Inhabitants of Halifax, proceed to the Governor’s Farm where
proper tents were erected, and the Chiefs of the Indians being called