Since this Monday is Louis Riel Day, we’d like to take a moment to encapsulate some of the important resources available to our patrons regarding one of Manitoba’s most controversial historical figures.
Who was Louis Riel?
Louis Riel, a leader of his people in their resistance against the Canadian government in the Canadian Northwest, is perhaps the most controversial figure in Canadian historiography. His life and deeds have spawned a massive and diverse literature.
He was born in the Red River Settlement (in what is now Manitoba) in 1844. A promising student, he was sent to Montreal to train for the priesthood, but he never graduated. An attempt at training as a lawyer ended similarly, and by 1868 Riel was back in the Red River area. Ambitious, well educated and bilingual, Riel quickly emerged as a leader among the Métis of the Red River.
Why Commemorate Louis Riel?
Louis Riel is recognized as an advocate of justice for the Métis people, but he represents much more. He helped lay the framework for minority rights and cultural co-operation, and is regarded as a founder of Manitoba. It is very important to remember Louis Riel’s contribution to Canada and specifically to recall that he was executed for being a persistent advocate for the rights of his people. (Reference: http://louisrielday.com/)
In 2008, Manitoba schools were invited to name our province’s newest holiday and 114 responded with suggestions that reflected Manitoba’s citizenship, history, culture, arts, sports and significant individuals from our past. Eleven schools submitted the winning entry and received $1,000 grants to purchase materials for their school library. (Reference: http://louisrielday.com/louis-riel-day-origins/)
Louis Riel Books and Videos
The Red River College Library has dozens of “Louis Riel” related items in our collection. Here is a sample:
Riel’s Defence : Perspectives on His Speeches (eBook)
In 1885, Louis Riel was charged with high treason, found guilty, and consequently executed for his role in Saskatchewan’s North-West Rebellion. During his trial, the Métis leader gave two speeches, passionately defending the interests of the Métis in western Canada as well as his own life. Riel’s Defence studies these speeches, demonstrating the range of Riel’s political and personal concerns. Link: EBSCOhost eBook
Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont
Louis Riel, a controversial Metis mystic and visionary, fought for his people’s rights against an encroaching tide of white settlers. Hunter and Metis leader Gabriel Dumont, a man tested by warfare, was, in contrast, a pragmatic realist of the land. Celebrated novelist Joseph Boyden explores the tumultuous year when Riel and Dumont united the Me´tis while dividing a nation. Could Dumont have forseen the impact on the Me´tis cause when he brought Riel home? While making rational demands of Sir John A. Macdonald, Riel seemed increasingly overtaken by a messianic mission. His controversial execution by the Canadian government in 1885 still reverberates today. Catalog Record: http://icarus.rrc.mb.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=112056
Louis Riel : firebrand
Louis Riel devoted his life to the Metis cause. A fiery activist, he struggled against injustice as he saw it. He was a pioneer in the field of Aboriginal rights and land claims but was branded an outlaw in his own time. In 1885, he was executed for treason. In 1992, the House of Commons declared Riel a founder of Manitoba. November 16 is now designated Louis Riel Day in Canada. Catalog Record: http://icarus.rrc.mb.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=100518
Louis Riel : a comic-strip biography
Told with dispassionate precision by the legendary cartoonist Chester Brown, this is the story of the charismatic, and perhaps mad, nineteenth century Metis leader, whose struggle to win rights for his people led to violent rebellion on the Canadian frontier. Catalog Record: http://icarus.rrc.mb.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=87977
Champion of a people or traitorous rabble-rouser? Political visionary or religious lunatic? Louis Riel is one of the most ambiguous figures in Canadian history, a man who stood and fell for the Métis nation. Read about the fascinating western icon in this well-paced biography. The doomed struggle of Louis Riel and his Métis people against the new Canadian government is a story rich in drama and cultural change. Catalog Record: http://icarus.rrc.mb.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=86278
1979 Dramatization of the Riel Rebellion of 1885. Under their leader, Louis Riel, the Metis rise up against the government of Sir John A. MacDonald. Stars Raymond Cloutier as Louis Riel. Also includes Roger Blay, Maury Chaykin, Arthur Hill, Leslie Nielsen, Christopher Plummer and William Shatner in supporting roles.Catalog Record: http://icarus.rrc.mb.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=32674
Louis Riel Quotes
“We must cherish our inheritance. We must preserve our nationality for the youth of our future. The story should be written down to pass on.” – Louis Riel
“I am more convinced everyday that without a single exception I did right. And I have always believed that, as I have acted honestly, the time will come when the people of Canada will see and acknowledge it.” – Louis Riel, 1885
“Yes, I have done my duty. During my life I have aimed at practical results. I hope that after my death my spirit will bring practical results. All that I have done and risked… Rested certainly on the conviction that I was called upon to do something for my country I know that through the grace of God I am the founder of Manitoba.” – Louis Riel, May 6, 1885, Batoche, N.W.T.
Louis Riel Tour
Are you looking for a long-weekend activity? Here is a wonderful web page that lists the Louis Riel commemorative locations in and around Winnipeg: http://louisrielday.com/louis-riel-tour/