Special Statement from President Chartrand on the 138th anniversary of Louis Riel’s execution
November 16, 2023
Winnipeg, MB, in the National Homeland of the Red River Métis - Today, on the anniversary of his execution, the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), the National Government of the Red River Métis, honoured Louis Riel as a historic Red River Métis leader, visionary, Father of Confederation and the first Premier of Manitoba.
The commemoration ceremony, held at Louis Riel’s gravesite, was well attended by Citizens, community members and representatives from the federal, provincial and civic levels of government, which is a clear demonstration of the growing understanding of the pivotal role Louis Riel played in Canadian history.
Riel’s unjust, judicially-sanctioned murder has long been a stain on this country’s history. I have spent my entire time as the leader of the Red River Métis people lobbying and fighting for Riel and his People to be given the respect due to the Founder of Manitoba, including his proper title as first Premier of Manitoba.”
Every year on this day, we remind Manitobans and Canadians that our Nation has always seen Riel for the great man he was. We know that his actions, words and sacrifices earned him the title of first Premier of Manitoba. It has taken the vision of our province’s first First Nations Premier to right this wrong. When Premier Kinew made his recent announcement to honour Louis Riel at our Annual General Assembly, he touched the hearts of the 4,000 Red River Métis in attendance, as well as many more across Manitoba and Beyond Borders.
Riel was only 25 years old when he and other Red River Métis formed a provisional government and presented Canada with a Bill of Rights reflected in a treaty and constitutional commitments in the 1870 Manitoba Act. When forced to flee the reign of terror enacted upon the Red River Métis after bringing Manitoba into Canada’s confederation, Riel spent five years in the United States, exiled away from his people, before being called to defend the Red River Métis once again.
Following a hard-fought series of battles between Canadian troops and the Red River Métis, Louis Riel surrendered himself to Canadian soldiers for trial in May of 1885. He was tried and hanged for treason in Regina – then part of the historic Northwest, rather than Canada – using an archaic English law from 1352 to manufacture the circumstances of his execution. Riel was only 41 at the time of his death.
In the future, I hope Riel will be remembered by all Canadians for who he was – an advocate of what are now considered Canadian values: inclusiveness of language rights, equality between genders, and heartfelt welcome and support for newcomers.
It doesn’t matter where else you go in the world, you will only find the Red River Métis here in our Homeland. The heart of our Homeland is Winnipeg, what was once the Red River settlement, where Louis Riel was laid to rest by his family and his “little Nation”. It is in his honour, and in honour of our Ancestors who fought and even gave their lives to defend our distinct way of life and culture, that we continue to fight to this day. We will ensure that no one can misunderstand who we are, where we come from or what makes us a distinct people – Louis Riel’s people.
President David Chartrand
MMF – National Government of the Red River Métis
“I am glad that the Crown have proved that I am the leader of the Half-breeds in the North-West. I will perhaps be one day acknowledged as more than a leader of the Half-breeds, and if I am I will have an opportunity of being acknowledged as a leader of good in this great country.”
Louis Riel – Memoir
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Media Relations Advisor
Manitoba Métis Federation