This year, the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) marked Louis Riel Day with virtual celebrations across the province. November 16 is a somber day for the Métis people, as it marks the 135th anniversary of Louis Riel’s execution. However, it is also a time for recognizing the many contributions Métis people have made throughout history, and is an opportunity to come together and celebrate Métis culture.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, a number of MNO Community Councils opted to honour the Métis leader and visionary with online celebrations in addition to traditional flag-raising ceremonies. MNO Councils and several postsecondary institutions across Ontario hosted virtual workshops, livestreams and discussions, and even creative contests.
Below are just a few of the virtual celebrations that took place across Ontario this year.
MNO COMMUNITY COUNCIL EVENTS:
Georgian Bay Métis Council (GBMC)
Métis youth in the Georgian Bay region donned their best Métis apparel for a Louis Riel Day photo contest. The contest was organized by GBMC Youth Rep Robert Pinkney, who saw the contest as a way to break up the monotony of Covid-19 restrictions while engaging the community in some culturally relevant fun! Claiming first place and the $250 dollar prize, was Métis youth Ryder Grenier. The contest runner-up, Cole Scott, also received a $50 prize for his submission! Congratulations to both!
Grand River Métis Council (GRMC)
A flag-raising ceremony took place at Guelph City Hall on Monday morning, with Grand River Métis Council (GRMC) President Jennifer Parkinson, GRMC Senator Leslie Muma and Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie in attendance. This ceremony represents the tenth year that the GRMC has participated in the flag raising event. The GRMC also released a special Louis Riel Day video, using archived photos from previous Louis Riel Day celebrations and narrated by Council President Parkinson. See the video on Facebook at this link.
Grand River Mayor Cam Guthrie, GRMC President Jennifer Parkinson and GRMC Senator Leslie Muma
Kenora Métis Council:
The Kenora Métis Council held a Louis Riel Virtual Weekend from November 13-16. Included in the weekend line up was a series of virtual cultural workshops, online kitchen parties, and even a scavenger hunt! A Métis flag raising ceremony was also live streamed over Facebook on Monday, November 16. Attending the outdoor ceremony was MNO Regional Women’s Rep Collette Surovy, Senator Karen Cederwall, and PCMNO Regional Councilor Theresa Stenlund. Other special guests include MP Eric Mellilo, Mayor Dan Reynard, Councillor Rory McMillan. The flag raising ceremony can be viewed on the Kenora Métis Council Facebook page.
Niagara Region Métis Council
In honour of Louis Riel Day, the Niagara Region Métis Council (NRMC) released a series of Louis Riel Day videos on the NRMC Facebook page. The videos published featured a brief history of the Métis leader Louis Riel, in addition to the NRMC Métis flag raising tribute and personal remarks from NRMC President, Derrick Pont.
North Bay Métis Council
Due to increased safety measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the North Bay Métis Council (NBMC) was unable to hold its traditional in-person gathering. However, North Bay city officials ensured the Métis flag was flown at City Hall on Monday morning in honour of Louis Riel Day. NBMC Senator Luci Moncion also shared her remarks with a letter commemorating the Métis leader.
North Bay Mayor Al McDonald issued a proclamation that formally recognizes November 16 as Louis Riel Day in the city. Additional letters of proclamation were also submitted from Nipissing MPP and Minister Vic Fedeli, and Honourable MP Anthony Rota.
Pictured: Louis Riel Day proclamation signed by North Bay Mayor Al McDonald on November 16, 2020.
Oshawa and Durham Region Métis Council
The Oshawa and Durham Region Métis Council (ODRMC) and City of Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter invited the Métis community to meet at City Hall at Noon on November 16, 2020, for the traditional flag-raising ceremony in honour of Louis Riel. Due to Covid-19 protocols, the socially-distanced gathering took place outdoors and was limited to 25 individuals and included both dignitaries and Métis Citizens.
In recognition of the ODRMC’s many contributions to the community, Mayor Dan Carter issued a city proclamation formally recognizing November 16 as “Louis Riel Day” in the City of Oshawa. For photos of the flag raising and proclamation see the ODRMC Facebook page, or click this link.
Ottawa Region Métis Council
The Ottawa Region Métis Council (ORMC), in partnership with MNO Community Wellness program, celebrated Louis Riel Day with a virtual event Sunday, November 15. Guest speaker at the ORMC Virtual Riel Day was past MNO President Tony Belcourt, who addressed Métis Citizens and engaged in a Q&A session following his remarks. The ORMC virtual line-up also featured Métis music, jigging, crafting, stories and more.
A flag-raising ceremony was also held Monday morning with ORMC President Erik Gjos at Ottawa City Hall.
Toronto and York Region Métis Council
Due to increased safety measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Toronto and York Region Métis Council (TYRMC) was unable to host its traditional in person flag-raising ceremony at Toronto City Hall. However, the City of Toronto ensured that the Métis flag flew high outside of Toronto City Hall on Monday morning.
In addition to raising the flag, the City of Toronto took a step towards reconciliation on Monday morning by proclaiming November 16 as “Louis Riel Day” in the city. Mayor John Tory issued a video of the acknowledgment and proclamation, which can be viewed at: https://fb.watch/1RgB2LAO6K/
Thunder Bay Métis Council
The Thunder Bay Métis Council (TBMC) also held a flag-raising ceremony in honour of Louis Riel Day, which took place at Thunder Bay City Hall on Monday morning. Attending the City Hall flag-raising and gathering were Thunder Bay Mayor Bill Mauro, TBMC President Kevin Muloin, and local Métis community members.
How did your community celebrate Louis Riel Day 2020? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
ADDITIONAL LOUIS RIEL DAY EVENTS:
Centennial College, Statement and Métis flag-raising
In recognition of Louis Riel Day, Centennial College honoured its relationship with the Métis community by raising the Métis flag on campus Monday morning. Additionally, Centennial College issued a statement in aims to continue educating staff and students on the significance of the historic Métis leader and as a reminder of the Indigenous community’s continued resilience.
Read a statement from Sean Kinsella, Centennial’s Director of the Eighth Fire, on Centennial College’s website at: https://www.centennialcollege.ca/news/louis-riel-day/
Laurentian University, Métis Flag-raising
Laurentian University, with support from Indigenous Student Affairs staff and MNO Infinite Reach Facilitator Desiree Fortin, found ways to celebrate Louis Riel Day on campus in a safe and socially distanced way. In honour of the day, Desiree Fortin gifted the University staff with their own Métis flag, which was raised in an on-campus socially-distanced ceremony and as tribute to the Métis leader.
Pictured: MNO Infinite Reach Facilitator Desiree Fortin raises the Métis flag
Message from MNO President Margaret Froh
Statement from the Prime Minister
Read a statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau online at this link