Georgian marks Louis Riel Day on Nov. 16

Nov. 14, 2022

In Ontario, and across the Métis homeland, Louis Riel Day is celebrated on Nov. 16, the anniversary of Riel’s execution in 1885. Although Louis Riel Day commemorates one of the great tragedies of Canadian history, it’s also a day to celebrate Métis people and culture, and the continuing progress in fulfilling Riel’s dream of the Métis people taking their rightful place within Confederation. 

Louis Riel circa 1873, from Provincial Archives of Manitoba

I am more convinced everyday that without a single exception I did right. And I have always believed that, as I have acted honestly, the time will come when the people of Canada will see and acknowledge it.     

– Louis Riel, 1885

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Who is Louis Riel?

An important part of reconciliation with Métis people in Ontario is a shift away from the Eurocentric version of the Riel story to a version that helps learners to understand the Métis perspective.

Riel fought for the rights of all landowners in Western Canada, including First Nation people, Métis people, and European settlers. He fought for the protection of language rights for both French and English-speaking people, even though he himself spoke French, and French was the dominant language in the Red River area. He dreamed of the day when the religious prejudices of Europe would not impact people in what’s now Canada.

As more people become aware of the contributions of Riel and the Métis to our province and country, postsecondary institutions like Georgian are celebrating Métis culture and history through raising the Métis flag, sharing the Riel story, wearing Métis sashes, playing Métis fiddle music, dancing Métis jigs, and more.

Resources

The Métis Nation of Ontario has put together information and resources to assist in telling the story of Riel and the Métis people. You can use these to generate conversations and learn more about his place in Canadian history:

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