Louis Riel honoured by dignitaries on date of his execution

Dignitaries and politicians came together with the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) in Winnipeg to commemorate the life of Louis Riel.

Nov. 16, 2021 marks 136 years since the Métis leader and Father of Manitoba was executed by Canada.

The ceremony started with a laying of wreaths to honour Riel.

Dignitaries from the city of Winnipeg, provincial and federal governments and other organizations were on hand to pay their respects for the founder of Manitoba, including newly elected Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson.

“Louis Riel was a passionate defender of the metis people advocating for land, language and political rights for the Métis nation. He also played a key role in creating the nation of Canada as we know it and for that all Canadians owe him a debt of gratitude,” said Stefanson.

“The contributions he made to the founding of our province are significant and must be acknowledged.”

Riel was tried and subsequently hanged as a traitor by Canada at the Northwest Mounted Police Barracks in Regina.

Along with leading his provisional government in the creation of the Manitoba Act, Riel also led the Red River Métis in two resistance movements; the Red River Resistance and the Northwest Resistance.

Anita Campbell is the spokeswoman for the Infinity Women Secretariat and spoke on behalf of the MMF at the commemoration.

“Today is about more than simply remembering Louis Riel and the selfless and heroic acts that he undertook for the greater good. This day is about carrying the legacy of Riel and the vision of the brave Metis who served with him on a provisional government and the Battle of Batoche,” Campbell said.

People were marking the day in Saskatchewan as well

While MMF president David Chartrand was not in attendance, he released a statement.

“It is past time that the province went beyond recognizing him as the Founder of Manitoba and acknowledged him as the first Premier as well. Manitobans, and indeed all Canadians, have a right to know this history and to understand the contributions of this great man,” Chartrand said in the statement.

Ontario’s minister of Indigenous Affairs, Greg Rickford also released a statement on today’s anniversary.

“It is a day to honour Riel’s contributions to Canadian confederation and to protecting the diverse history, culture and identity of the Métis people. His courageous defense of minority and language rights helped lay the groundwork for a more inclusive Ontario and Canada,” the statement said.

Riel’s final resting place can be found in the St. Boniface cemetery in Winnipeg.

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