FNMIC member Justin Gaudet, is asking members to pause on November 16 to think about Saskatchewan's history on Louis Riel Day. Educate yourselves on the history and commit to going forward in a more informed way. 

Who was Louis Riel?

  • Louis Riel was a Métis man that was born in Quebec and studied religion.
  • He lived in the Red River area in Manitoba and was kicked out by the federal government during the Red River Rebellion.
  • He relocated to Batoche, Saskatchewan, and again the federal government attempted to displace him.
  • He fought back during the Northwest Rebellion and was ultimately tried for treason and hanged, along with some of his cohort.
  • The government called it a rebellion, but we look back on his acts as resistance to the government imposing its will on Métis people.
  • He fought for what he believed in, which was a Métis homeland. In the land scrip system, Métis were offered land or money to give up their Indigenous rights.

What was the rebellion like?

  • This rebellion involved almost four times as many militia on the government side as Métis people.
  • The advantages to the Métis group was they knew the terrain and mobility.
  • Gabriel Dumont was a Métis leader that was a key military commander of the Louis Riel team.
  • Dumont advocated for guerrilla warfare and Riel didn’t want to engage in battle. Riel believed that he could reason with the government, believed in his religion and prayed that there was a peaceful answer to the military's guns.
  • It ended with the hanging of Louis Riel.

This is one example of the many instances where the government and the Crown imposed their will on an Indigenous population.

Lately there has been a call to exonerate Louis Riel, calling him a hero. Others ask that the story remain the same, that the trial and death of Louis Riel are a tale of the resilience of the Métis against Colonization.

Justin Gaudet, 
First Nations, Métis, Inuit Committee, SEIU-West

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