Louis Riel Day cause for celebration

Original story from http://fftimes.com/node/247207

Fort Frances Louis Riel
Participants hold the Métis flag at the Louis Riel Day
celebration in Fort Frances. (Source: Heather Latter)

Just as Louis Riel Day was marked across Canada on November 16, 2014, a celebration of the protector of Métis rights and one of the Fathers of Confederation was also held at the MNO Sunset Country Métis Hall in Fort Frances.

More than 120 people turned out to enjoy a buffet supper, including a moose roast, donated by Dean McMahon, Métis Nation of Ontario Captain of the Hunt, as well as to hear and dance to music performed by district entertainers. But amidst the merry-making, the importance of Riel as a Canadian historical figure also was highlighted.

“Louis Riel Day takes place on the anniversary of a great tragedy—the execution of Louis Riel on November 16, 1885,” read Theresa Stenlund, Region 1 PCMNO Councillor, who delivered a message on behalf of MNO President Gary Lipinski, who was attending Louis Riel Day celebrations in Toronto. “Riel’s only crime was that he defended the rights of his people, our people, the Métis,” Stenlund stressed. “Although he fought for the Métis rights in the west, his resistance had repercussions for Métis in Ontario, as well,” she noted. “We were labelled traitors and for generations our culture was forced underground. We became the forgotten people. Over the years, however, we began to assert ourselves and take up the mantle of Louis Riel,” Stenlund added.

“We founded the Métis Nation of Ontario, and with Steve Powley we asserted our Métis rights. Every day that we work together as MNO citizens, we are seeking the same rights that Louis Riel defended. Louis Riel’s battle did not end on November 16, 1885, because we are fighting it today,” Stenlund reasoned. “It is for that reason that Louis Riel Day—November 16—is a day that celebrates our resilience as a people. It is a day we remember what we have achieved so far, and it is a day we steel our resolve so Louis Riel’s dream can be a reality for our children.”

Clint Calder, MNO Sunset Country Métis Council (SCMC) President, said the message of Riel must be passed on to the youth. He then passed the microphone over to Ericka Tymkin who delivered a speech on the history of Riel.

“It is still evident today,” Tymkin said. “Canada has the province of Manitoba. Also, the Métis have been recognized and have grown to be equal in Canadian society. He is definitely one of Canada’s most important figures, and he is unmistakably a hero,” she stressed.

On a lighter note, musical entertainment was provided by: Eric Fagerdahl; Ericka Tymkin; Abbey Calder; Intirely Mac: Wayne and Danette MacIntyre; the Sunset Country Chicks: Brittany Hayes, Charity Rose, and Sandra Allan; and, the Distant Legacy Band: Justin Boshey, Mark Beachey, Brian Kabatay and Glen Tower. Justin Boshey, Elmer and Clifford Whitefish also played and even got some folks jigging and square-dancing for several songs.

Special guest was John Bonin, manager of aboriginal affairs for Union Gas (Ontario), which had sponsored the fall harvest fish fry held last month at the Métis Hall.

Bonin said he is always warmly welcomed by the Métis people and he always looks forward to coming to Métis events.

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