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Louis Riel Day is held every year on November 16 across the M¨¦tis homelands. November 16 is the anniversary of Riel¡¯s execution in 1885. During that year, Riel led M¨¦tis people in the Northwest Resistance, which was a stand against the Government of Canada because it was encroaching on Metis rights and our way-of-life. The M¨¦tis were defeated at the siege of Batoche and the Canadian government captured Riel. He was eventually put on trial where he was convicted of treason and executed. As a result, M¨¦tis people across Canada were labeled as traitors and for generations many felt the need to hide their M¨¦tis culture and heritage. Despite this oppression, many M¨¦tis people found a way to preserve their way-of-life and passed it on to current generations. Today, the strength of the M¨¦tis Nation of Ontario (MNO) is a testament to the courage of our ancestors.
Riel¡¯s unjust execution is well-known but it is important to also recognize the political gains he made through the establishment of a Provisional Government in Manitoba. Riel¡¯s success in negotiating Manitoba into Confederation and the protection of minority language rights, laid the groundwork for his vision of a Canada that included the M¨¦tis Nation and protected M¨¦tis rights.
Although Louis Riel Day commemorates one of the great tragedies of Canadian history, it is also a day to celebrate M¨¦tis culture and the continuing progress that M¨¦tis people are making in fulfilling Riel¡¯s dream of M¨¦tis taking their rightful place within Confederation.
Every year on November 16th, MNO citizens, MNO Chartered Community Councils and communities hold events across the province to celebrate M¨¦tis culture, recognize the many contributions of the M¨¦tis to Canada, and to highlight the struggles that M¨¦tis continue to face.
In addition, a special ceremony is always held on the lawn of the Provincial Legislature at Queen¡¯s Park in Toronto. Queen¡¯s Park is home to the Northwest Rebellion Monument and the Legislative Building. Ironically, the Legislature is where a price was put on Louis Riel¡¯s head and the monument recognizes the Canadian soldiers who fought in the Northwest Resistance against the M¨¦tis. During the Louis Riel Day ceremony, however, they are the focal points for honouring Riel as the monument is reverentially draped with M¨¦tis symbols including a portrait of Louis Riel.
Pictures -?Provincial Ceremony
Updated on: October 28, 2016