Today the people of British Columbia observe Louis Riel Day. The government of BC and the Métis people of the province have expressed a “commitment to work together for the betterment of Métis people throughout British Columbia.” (source.) As a symbol of this, the province has declared November 16 to be Louis Riel Day, in honour of the historical hero of the Métis people.
Louis Riel led the Métis in the Red River Rebellion and the North-West Rebellion of the late 19th Century. Riel was captured, tried and found guilty of treason, and was executed by the Canadian government on November 16, 1885. Even then his death was extremely divisive. Not only did the Métis express outrage at the execution of their leader, so too did many French Canadians who saw Riel as a champion of the rights of French speakers in Canada. In the years since his death many have come to see Riel as a hero, a symbol of resistance against the oppression of the indigenous people of this land, and as the champion of the Métis.
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