Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Preserving Métis History
The Métis people play an important role in Canadian history and society. However, their history is less well known to Canadians than that of other Aboriginal peoples, despite the high profile of their leader, Louis Riel. The Métis people's role in the opening of the Canadian West, their encounters with non-Métis settlers and government officials, and their continuing struggle to preserve their identity following the defeat of the Northwest Rebellion are all important issues to study.
Students will research the history of the Métis people in
Canada and their current situation as a non-status Aboriginal group mainly
inhabiting Canada's western provinces. They will conduct an in-class round
table discussion of the Métis people, focusing on their history, the importance
of Louis Riel as a symbol of their identity, and current issues they face as
part of Canada.
Students should be directed to the topic "Rethinking Riel" on the CBC Digital Archives website. They should focus on the following topics (listed in "The Process") of importance to Metis history and current issues:
Divide students into "expert groups" with each group selecting one of the following topics:
1. The 1870 Red River Rebellion
2. The 1885 Northwest Rebellion
3. The trial of Louis Riel for treason
4. The Metis view of celebrating Canada Day
5. Remembering Riel's memory with statues and other symbols
6. The importance of the "Back to Batoche" ceremonies
7. Moves to demand a pardon for Louis Riel
8. The controversy over the "bell of Batoche"
9. Louis Riel as a Father of Confederation
10. The controversy over Riel's mental condition
11. Louis Riel: superstar
12. The Metis today: main issues, challenges, associations
Students will begin their research on the Archives site and use other resources as necessary.
Groups will present their work in a round-table discussion where they focus on their topic and emphasize its importance either for Métis history or for the current situation of Métis people in Canada. Students can use visual aids of their choice to illustrate their presentations.
After each group has presented its part of the round-table, students can ask questions or present their views on what they have learned about Métis people and their history. Students can share their opinions about the importance of the Métis people as part of Canada's history and contemporary society. They can express their views on some of the controversial issues surrounding Louis Riel's role as leader, and how the rebellions he led are still commemorated in western Canada today.
Resources for this topic
Métis National Council website: www.metisnation.ca
Canada's First Peoples website: http://firstpeoplesofcanada.com/fp_metis/fp_metis1.html