Indigenous

Louis Riel: Canadians and Indigenous Peoples continue to pay respect, 130 years later

One hundred and thirty years after Louis Riel was hanged for treason, Canadians and Indigenous Peoples alike continue to commemorate his death at events and on social media.

Riel fought for values 'Canadians hold dear — equality, pluralism, and social justice,' minister says

Every year, l'Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph of Manitoba holds a memorial service commemorating the death of Louis Riel. (CBC)

One hundred and thirty years after Louis Riel was hanged for treason, Canadians and indigenous people alike continue to commemorate his death at events and on social media.

Riel is known to be one of Canada's most controversial figures. While the Métis have always viewed him as a hero, many felt he was a traitor because he led the North West Rebellion.

Riel was hanged for treason on Nov. 16, 1885, in Regina.

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) led a memorial service for Riel at his tombstone in Winnipeg's St. Boniface area on Monday morning.

Louis Riel was hanged for treason on Nov. 16, 1885, in Regina. (National Archives of Canada/C-007625)
"We go there every year to show our gratitude and appreciation on the sacrifices that Riel actually gave," said MMF president David Chartrand.

To a crowd of nearly 100 people, Chartrand spoke of how Riel's leadership inspires his own.

"I'm very religious in my own ways. I'm one to pray to God, of course, to the Virgin Mary, and I also pray to Riel … for him to give me guidance in all my decisions, my actions, and where I am taking his little Métis nation," he said.

It wasn't until 1992 that Ottawa finally recognized Riel as a founder of Manitoba. Then in 2007, Manitoba declared a holiday in February that is named after him.

This year, many are remembering him at different events across the country and on social media.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett was among those who paid tribute to Riel.

"Louis Riel fought for the very values that Canadians hold dear — equality, pluralism, and social justice. His many sacrifices have secured him an enduring place in our shared history as a champion of the Métis people, a founder of Manitoba, and a key contributor to Canadian Confederation," Bennett said in a statement.

"I am looking forward to working with Métis people, communities, and organizations in order to ensure a renewed, Nation-to-Nation relationship between Canada and the Métis Nation."

About the Author

Tiar Wilson was raised in Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Manitoba. She's reported for APTN National News, CBC Winnipeg, and CBC North. Tiar is also involved with CBC's database of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and continues to share the stories of these women, their families and communities. She's currently reporting for CBC Aboriginal. @yourpaltiar.