Tuesday, November 16 is Louis Riel Day, a time when Métis people commemorate Riel’s role in leading the Northwest Resistance against the Canadian government. It also marks the day he was executed.
Louis Riel was born in 1844 in the Red River Settlement. He became a national symbol of resistance because he fought for the Métis people’s sovereignty, language and land rights. Riel was a catalyst in the creation of Manitoba and continues to be seen as a significant figure under the Manitoba Act.
He was also elected three times as a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons but he was never able to take his seat. During this time, the Ontario legislature had placed a bounty on him for $5,000 because he was seen as an outlaw and a traitor.
Over a century later, Louis Riel is still remembered by Métis people as the leader who fought for their human rights and stood up to protect the French language and their lands. Today, he is recognized and celebrated across Canada by every level of government and by leaders of all political stripes for his leadership and dedication to standing up for minority rights.
While we observe this day for a second year in a row during a global pandemic, we acknowledge the challenges and effects that COVID-19 has had on Indigenous people, and in particular, Métis communities. More than ever, Riel’s resistance serves as a reminder of the struggles and fight for justice that continues for Indigenous peoples.
We at OPSEU/SEFPO take a moment to remember Louis Riel’s legacy and his dedication to human rights and his lasting impact on this nation.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer
Krista Maracle, Chair of OPSEU/SEFPO Indigenous Circle