The following is a guest blog post from Janine Landry, Indigenous Student Navigator at College of the Rockies.
DID YOU KNOW?
November 16th is Louis Riel day and is celebrated by Métis people across Canada. Riel was a well-educated leader for Métis people during the inception of Canada and was integral in successfully negotiating the inclusion of Manitoba and in the protection of minority language rights in the country we now call Canada. [i]
Riel led Métis people and worked with his First Nations relatives and allies to defend the rights of Indigenous people in the west during 1885; this is commonly known as the Northwest Resistance. He was captured, put on trial and unjustly executed on November 16th in 1885 by the Canadian Government. After his death, many Métis people hid their Indigenous origins in fear of being labeled traitors amongst racial and sometimes violent threats. This racism and the fear of, lasted for many generations, often forcing people to change their last names or move in order to hide their identity. The Métis Nation has since seen a resurgence and more and more Métis people are becoming comfortable acknowledging their ancestral lineages and are reconnecting with their culture.
Louis Riel Day is now considered a celebration of Métis culture, heritage and contributions to the country of Canada, while still always remembering the history of Canadian and Métis relations in the country. The Day is traditionally celebrated in British Columbia and other parts of the country on Nov. 16 to commemorate the lengths to which Louis Riel went to advocate for Métis rights.
Check out some of the work the Metis National Council along with communities in the Metis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) are doing! College of the Rockies is located in the Region 4 of the MNBC’s land use.