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Louis Riel Day is held every year on November 16 across the Métis homelands. November 16 is the anniversary of Riel’s execution in 1885. During that year, Riel led Métis 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 Métis 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, Métis people across Canada were labeled as traitors and for generations many felt the need to hide their Métis culture and heritage. Despite this oppression, many Métis people found a way to preserve their way-of-life and passed it on to current generations. Today, the strength of the Métis 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 Métis Nation and protected Métis rights.
Although Louis Riel Day commemorates one of the great tragedies of Canadian history, it is also a day to celebrate Métis culture and the continuing progress that Métis people are making in fulfilling Riel’s dream of Métis 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 Métis culture, recognize the many contributions of the Métis to Canada, and to highlight the struggles that Métis 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 Métis. During the Louis Riel Day ceremony, however, they are the focal points for honouring Riel as the monument is reverentially draped with Métis symbols including a portrait of Louis Riel.
Pictures - Provincial Ceremony
Updated on: October 28, 2016