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Louis Riel Day

“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

November 16 is Louis Riel Day. Every year on this day, the anniversary of the death of Louis Riel, Canadians from across Canada come together to remember him, his cause, and his legacy.

Riel fought for the rights of all landowners in Western Canada, including First Nation people, Métis people, and European settlers. He fought for the protection of language rights for both French and English speaking people, even though he himself spoke French and French was the dominant language in Red River. He dreamed of the day when the religious prejudices of Europe would not impact the people in what is now Canada.


Louis Riel Day poster by the Metis Nation of Ontario - Born in St. Boniface in 1844, the French-speaking Métis boy was sent to Montreal to be educated and subsequently became an apprentice to a Quebec based lawyer. Shortly after, Louis left the city to return to the Red River settlement and his destiny.After the Hudson’s Bay Company surrendered Rupert’s Land to the Government of Canada, the Métis were left without representation. Louis Riel stepped in and co-founded the Provisional Government of Red River, which was used as a guiding body to usher the west into the Dominion peacefully and to assure that the concerns of the Métis were heard.Through his leadership, the province of Manitoba was founded. In 1884, answering a desperate call sent out from his people, Riel returned to Canada and, once again, demanded equal treatment for the Métis. His plea was answered with a military response and the Northwest Resistance ensued. Riel surrendered on May 15, 1885 and was condemned to death and hung for High Treason by the very country he helped to build. Every year on November 16th, the anniversary of the death of their most honoured leader, Métis people from across the homeland band together to remember the man, his cause and his legacy.