Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, has issued the following statement to mark Louis Riel Day:
“During his life, Louis Riel was a passionate advocate for Métis people. He was a fierce defender of the rights of marginalized people. He was an essential part of the cultural fabric of Canada and is rightly recognized as a founder of Manitoba.
“On Nov. 16, 1885, Louis Riel was unjustly hanged after being convicted of treason. He made a profound sacrifice for his beliefs. Today, on Louis Riel Day, we commemorate his legacy, his enduring influence and the ideals that he died defending. This day is part of Canada’s heritage.
“It is also important to recognize the strides he made in laying the groundwork for a country that included the Métis Nation and protected Métis rights. Riel not only advocated for Métis rights, but he also fought for First Nations rights, French language rights and religious freedom. Most of us have heard of Louis Riel and studied his face in history textbooks, but not everyone knows the depth of his legacy.
“Riel remains a vital historical leader. Today, the strength of the Métis Nation is a testament to the courage of Louis Riel and all Métis ancestors that came before and after him. On the 137th anniversary of Riel’s death, we remember his profound dedication to justice. His vision of a diverse and inclusive Canada has left a lasting legacy.
“This day also represents an opportunity to celebrate Métis culture and to reflect on the important contributions of Métis people in British Columbia. To honour Métis culture and the important contributions of Métis people in B.C., the Métis flag is on display in the provincial Parliament Buildings, and a special gathering was held on Wednesday, Nov. 16, in the Hall of Honour. Together, with Lissa Dawn Smith, president of Métis Nation BC, and other Métis community members, we gathered in a morning ceremony to witness the flag display and presentation of the proclamation.
“Today, nearly 98,000 Métis people live in British Columbia, representing a distinct Indigenous culture. Along with Louis Riel, they have helped to build the Canada we know today and continue to build a strong future for the Métis of tomorrow.”