Louis Riel Day: Great-great-niece of Métis leader proud to celebrate heritage

Louis Riel Day has deep-rooted meaning for Ginette Abraham, the Métis leader's great-great-niece.

Ginette Abraham grateful for family history on day honouring ancestor

Louis Riel led the Red River Resistance in 1869-70. (National Archives of Canada/C-007625)

Many Manitobans embrace family and celebrate one of the province's founding fathers on Louis Riel Day — a new tradition with a deep-rooted meaning for Ginette Abraham, the Métis leader's great-great-niece.

Louis Riel Day was named in 2008 after the man who was once decried as a traitor for his leadership of the 1869-70 Red River Resistance but is now recognized as a founder of the province of Manitoba.

​Abraham said her mother, Augustine Abraham, who died last February at 96, told many stories over the years about her great-uncle and taught her daughter to be proud of her Métis heritage.

"It grounds you — like, I know exactly who I am and my place," she said. "Even though people say to me, 'Well, you've got blonde hair?' that doesn't take away the history of my family."

Monday is a day of reflection for Ginette, she said. Her mother's funeral took place on Louis Riel Day last year.

"I will be thinking of my mom for sure and just thinking about how grateful I am for the fact that she taught us to be proud of the people we [are]," she said.

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The Red River Resistance was a fight to maintain rights for Métis people. 

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is hosting a day of events to honour Riel on Monday, including beading workshops, a discussion of Métis rights and a series of theatrical and musical performances.