A centre for students with Métis backgrounds opens Tuesday at Brandon University — a development some say marks a historic moment in Manitoba.

In addition to being a place to study, the centre allows Métis students to congregate and meet with elders.

The opening coincides with the 125th anniversary of the death of Métis icon Louis Riel. 

"I think Louis Riel would be so excited to see that 125 years later, students would still be politically moving and making changes for Métis people," said Lorraine Mayer, chair of native studies at the school.

Mayer said that many times, Métis students are simply lumped in with people from other aboriginal backgrounds. The centre in Brandon, about 200 kilometres west of Winnipeg, will allow them to explore and share their culture with others.

"They can also share who we are culturally with all the rest of the university, and I think that will go a long way to educating people about Métis."

According to university officials, the centre was decorated by the Brandon Métis Women, with donations of cultural items from Mayer and the Manitoba Métis Federation's vice-president of the southwest region, Leah LaPlante.

Mayer and two of her students — Velvet Maud and Candice Carbonneau — spearheaded the creation of the centre, the university said.