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November 16 is Louis Riel Day


November 16 is an important day in the calendar of the Métis Nation.  On this day in 1885, Louis Riel was executed for leading the Northwest Resistance in defence of Métis rights.  Ceremonies are held each year to honour his memory and legacy.

Louis Riel established the Provisional Government of the Red River Settlement and negotiated with the government of Canada to establish Manitoba as a Province in 1870. After Thomas Scott, a settler and Orangeman, tried to murder Riel, he was marched out of Fort Garry’s east gate on March 4, 1870 and executed on the wall by the provisional government of the Red River Settlement. Scott’s execution led to Riel’s exile in 1875, and later to Riel’s own execution for treason on November 16, 1885. 

While in exile to Michigan and Quebec, Métis communities protected Riel until he returned to Canada and was captured.  As a result of the execution of Louis Riel, Métis people across Canada were labeled as traitors and for generations many felt the need to hide their Métis culture and heritage. Today, his life and death is recognized with pride by Métis people because he died fighting for the rights of the Métis.

Theresa O’Connor, Indigenous Circle rep (Region 2) and citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) proudly asserts that “the Métis fight for its rights did not end 134 years ago and is still alive in the hearts of Métis people who continue to seek full recognition and rights as Indigenous people on Turtle Island.”  O’Connor and Ron LePage, Indigenous Circle rep (Region 3) and Métis Nation of Ontario citizen have partnered with the MNO to host the OPSEU Métis Conference that will be held at Port Elgin on June 12-14, 2020.  The theme of the Conference is “Discovering the Métis: the People of the Sash.”

November 16 is recognized in many Communities with commemorative Ceremonies that include song, music, prayer, and the raising of the Métis flag. This year everyone is invited to mark Louis Riel day at the flag pole in front of the Legislative Building at Queen’s Park at 11:00 a.m. Friday, November 15, 2019.  All OPSEU members are encouraged to attend one of the many commemorative Ceremonies across the homelands to honour Louis Riel.