Lesson Plan: Who Was Louis Riel?
Write the words rebel, traitor,
and treason on the board. Ask students for definitions, and then use the
dictionary to confirm.
Have students name some important figures from Canadian history that can be viewed as rebels or traitors. What did they do? Why are they viewed that way?
Finally, write the name Louis Riel on the board and ask students to share anything they know about him.
Outline the Opportunity
Have students browse the topic Rethinking Riel on the CBC Digital Archives website for 20 to 30 minutes. As they browse, students should record their impressions of Riel, the main events in which he participated, his beliefs and the causes he promoted, the enemies he made, the reasons for his trial and execution, and how his historical memory is preserved to this day.
Revisit and Reflect
Write the following questions on the board:
- Who was Louis Riel?
- What were the Red River and Northwest Rebellions?
- Why was Riel tried, convicted, and hanged for treason in 1885?
- Why do the Métis people regard Riel as one of their great heroes?
- Why does Riel's memory continue to arouse controversy to this day, over a century after he was hanged?
- What evidence is there that Riel was a hero, a traitor, and a maniac?
Discuss the answers as a class and then ask students to write a brief summary of the main points.
Students can prepare and present an oral and/or written response to the following question: Who was Louis Riel and why is he an important figure in Canadian history?