Celebrating Louis Riel Day in Winnipeg? Here are some ideas

If you're looking to get a feel for Louis Riel on the Manitoba holiday named in his honour, there are a number of things happening around Winnipeg.
A mosaic of photos, assembled into an image of Louis Riel, is on display at the Festival du Voyageur site. (Nelly Gonzalez/CBC)

If you're looking to get a feel for Louis Riel on the Manitoba holiday named in his honour, there are a number of things happening around Winnipeg.

A large mosaic of Louis Riel, composed of photographs submitted by Manitobans, was unveiled at Festival du Voyageur on Monday.

Lynn De Coster points to her image on the Louis Riel mosaic. (Trevor Brine/CBC)
Festival organizers put out the call for photos in early December and received more than 200 submissions. The mosaic is on display at Fort Gibraltar for the duration of the festival.

Lynn De Coster came to the festival to check out the mosaic and see if her picture was among the images selected. She was thrilled to see two of her photos included.

"Wonderful! It feels wonderful like I'm part of a family again," she said, explaining that she was born in St.Boniface but doesn't have a lot of information about her own family history.

"My heritage is French Métis. I've been searching my family roots, and this just gives me a little bit of a sense of belonging."

Daralyn Derco and her husband took their two small children to the festival — a family tradition.

Derco is not Métis but calls the festival a great opportunity to learn about French Canadian culture.

"It's part of our heritage and how we came about. It's great," she said.

Robyn Guarino, who was also at the festival site on Monday, said her seven-year-old daughter took in voyageur workshops and learned a bit of history along the way.

"They went into the tipi and learned about how people used to live, learned about the fire," Guarino said.

If you want a more Riel-centric holiday, here are some ideas:

  • Riel Gravesite

Visit Riel's gravesite in front of the St. Boniface Cathedral on Tache Avenue.

  • St. Boniface Museum

After seeing the grave, walk over to the neighbouring St. Boniface Museum to see an art exhibit with a porcupine quillwork demonstration, hear fiddle music, listen to Métis stories and legends, and take in discussions about Riel's writings.

The events run from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

  • Riel House

Stop by Riel House at 330 River Rd., though your visit will be limited to the outside.

The home, a National Historic Site, is only open in July and August after falling victim to federal budget cuts a few years ago. It was the home of Louis Riel's mother, Julie Lagimodière, and where Riel lived from 1868, through the Red River Resistance, until his exile in 1870. His body was at the home for two days in December 1885, following his execution in Regina, before being buried in St. Boniface.

  • Canadian Museum for Human Rights

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is hosting a number of events, including music, dancing, crafts and discussion.

In the Canadian Journeys gallery, visitors will find stories and exhibits about the Métis resistance, indigenous land rights and Franco-Manitobans' struggle for language rights. Costumed interpreters will be on hand to answer questions.

Bonnie & John Buhler Hall

  • 11 a.m. – Welcome by CMHR official family of Festival du Voyageur and mascot Léo La Tuque.
  • 11:30 a.m. – Theatrical performance for families.
  • 1 p.m. – Musical program opens.
  • 1:25 p.m. – Red Moon Road.
  • 2 p.m. – Ray St. Germain.
  • 2:35 p.m. – Patti Kusturok.
  • 3:10 p.m. – Sagkeeng's Finest.

In the galleries

  • 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon – Beading workshop.
  • 11:30 a.m. to 12 noon – Photos with Festival du Voyageur official family and mascot.
  • 12 noon – Discussion of Métis rights in Canada led by former St. Boniface Museum director Philippe Mailhot.
  • 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. – Make your own clay beads.
  • 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. – Beading workshop.