Since Monday 18 February 2019 is Louis Riel Day, we’d like to take a moment to encapsulate some of the important resources available to our patrons regarding the Métis people and Louis Riel, one of Manitoba’s most famous 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/)
Books and Videos
The Red River College Library has many items related to the Métis people and Louis Riel.
A historical novel about the Riel insurrection of 1885, largely from the point of view of the Métis women. It offers an interesting account of the lives of the Métis women as they move to support their husbands in the battle with Middleton. This includes Marguerite, Riel’s wife, and Madeleine, Dumont’s wife. There is also a good portrayal of Louis Riel and his struggle to create a homeland for the Métis on the South Saskatchewan and also to create a new Catholic religion. Also an interesting account of Dumont as he struggles to stay loyal to Riel as he begins to realize what Riel’s new religious views mean.
A Métis enclave at Winnipeg’s edge. Melonville. Smokey Hollow. Bannock Town. Fort Tuyau. Little Chicago. Mud Flats. Pumpville. Tintown. La Coulee. These were some of the names given to Métis communities at the edges of urban areas in Manitoba. Rooster Town, which was on the outskirts of southwest Winnipeg endured from 1901 to 1961. Those years in Winnipeg were characterized by the twin pressures of depression and inflation, chronic housing shortages, and a spotty social support network. At the city’s edge, Rooster Town grew without city services as rural Métis arrived to participate in the urban economy and build their own houses while keeping Métis culture and community as a central part of their lives.
Explores various dimensions of the renaissance of the Métis nation in western Canada. It also explains Métis nationalism and the Métis nationalist movement as a historical and contemporary force in Canadian politics. In paying particular attention to the interplay of this nationalist movement with Canada’s constitutional initiatives starting with Pierre Elliott Trudeau, it is the story of how a people’s historic struggle for nationhood within Canadian federalism has become an essential part of Canada’s attempt to redefine itself since patriation.
Louis Riel, prophet of the new world and founder of the Canadian province of Manitoba, has challenged Canadian politics, history and religion since the early years of Confederation. In Canada’s most important and controversial state trial, Riel was found guilty of “high treason,” sentenced to hang and executed on November 16, 1885. Was the execution of Riel the hanging of a traitor? Or the legal murder of a patriot and statesman? As reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is on the minds of many today, these are questions that must receive thoughtful answers. Weaving together Riel’s words, writing and recent historical research, long-time Riel activist David Doyle provides Louis Riel with the opportunity for the first time to give his own account of his political career so as to assume his proper place in Canada’s history as its Indigenous (Métis) Father of Confederation.
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.
Chester Brown reinvents the comic-book medium to create the critically acclaimed historical biography Louis Riel, winning the Harvey Awards for best writing and best graphic novel for his compelling, meticulous, and dispassionate retelling of the charismatic, and perhaps insane, nineteenth-century Métis leader. Brown coolly documents with dramatic subtlety the violent rebellion on the Canadian prairie led by Riel, who some regard a martyr who died in the name of freedom, while others consider him a treacherous murderer.
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.
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.
Riel (Video on Demand) (Login Required)
A nostalgic look back at the 1979 Dramatization of the Riel Rebellion of 1885. Under their leader, Louis Riel, the Métis rose 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. (Converted from VHS)