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The North-West Rebellion
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LESSON 26: The North-West Rebellion

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This lesson corresponds to material found in:
Episode 10 Taking the West

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Backgrounder

In 1884 to 1885, tension was mounting in the Canadian northwest. Métis in Saskatchewan opposed the government's new land divisions. The Natives of the prairies, including the Cree and the Blackfoot, faced certain starvation following the virtual extermination of the buffalo. White settlers saw their concerns ignored by Ottawa. Métis and white settlers invited Louis Riel, in exile with his family in Montana, return to Canada to assist with these problems. Upon his return, he convinced the peoples of Saskatchewan to send a collective petition to Ottawa. Months passed without reply from the Macdonald government. Patience wore thin, and in March 1885, the Revolutionary Bill of Rights was passed outlining ten demands including the Métis land grievances. The Métis organized a provisional government and named Riel as president. On March 26, 1885, a group of Métis under the leadership of Gabriel Dumont encountered a detachment of Northwest Mounted Police at Duck Lake where an exchange of fire left 12 police, five Métis and one Native dead.

The Canadian government responded swiftly by dispatching close to 8,000 men to Alberta and Saskatchewan to bring the revolt to an end. 900 Canadian militiamen, under the command of General Frederick Middleton, arrived at Batoche towards the end of April. On May 12, while Middleton stalled for reinforcements, two of his colonels led their detachments in an assault on Batoche. Riel and his contingent of barely 200 Métis were quickly overrun, and many fled into the woods. Riel surrendered to General Middleton on May 15. His arrest set the stage for one of the most controversial trials in Canadian history.

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    Lesson Plans
    Episode 1
    When the World Began...
    Lesson 1 Canada's First Peoples
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 2 Stories of Creation
    Lesson 3 Cartier and Donnacona

    Episode 2
    Adventures and Mystics
    Lesson 4 The Beginning of the Fur Trade
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 5 The Jesuits and the Huron
    Lesson 6 Immigration to New France

    Episode 3
    Claiming the Wilderness
    Lesson 7 Expansion to the Gulf of Mexico
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 8 The Expulsion of the Acadians

    Episode 4
    Battle for a Continent
    Lesson 9 Before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham
    Lesson 10 The Battle of the Plains of Abraham
    Lesson 11 The Quebec Act
    (includes activity)

    Episode 5
    A Question of Loyalties
    Lesson 12 Conflict in Quebec, 1775
    Lesson 13 United Empire Loyalists
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 14 Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh

    Episode 6
    The Pathfinders
    Lesson 15 The Fur Trade in Canada
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 16 The Selkirk Settlers
    Lesson 17 The Gold Rush

    Episode 7
    Rebellion and Reform
    Lesson 18 The Rebellions of 1837
    Lesson 19 Union of the Canadas
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 20 A Land of Hope

    Episode 8
    The Great Enterprise
    Lesson 21 Newcomers to Canada
    Lesson 22 The Making of Confederation
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 23 Confederation in the Maritimes

    Episode 9
    From Sea to Sea
    Lesson 24 The Red River Resistance
    (includes activity)
    Lesson 25 The Pacific Scandal

    Episode 10
    Taking the West
    Lesson 26 The North-West Rebellion
    Lesson 27 The Trial of Louis Riel
    Lesson 28 Macdonald's National Dream

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