“My people will sleep for one hundred years but when they awaken it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.”
Happy Louis Riel Day!
Louis Riel was a revolutionary, politician, freedom fighter, prophet, lunatic, and one of Canada’s Founding Fathers – all depending on who you ask. What is indisputable is that he went toe to toe with the Canadian government to protect his people.
John A. MacDonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, was eager to build a Trans Canada railway to tie the nation together before the US absorbed British Columbia.
It was also to serve in getting armed troops across the nation faster and speed the process of immigration.
First Nations were worried the train would lead to death and the destruction of the buffalo (they were right to fear as that’s exactly what happened).
The Metis in Manitoba feared that the government would seize the lands they had carved out and settled, would break the tenuous peace with the First Nations. They were also right to fear, as this is what happened.
Louis Riel led the fight against the government but was ultimately captured and hanged for treason in 1885.
He was killed but the spirit of the Rebellion carried on, led by such men as Poundmaker, Big Bear and Gabriel Dumont.
According to reports, John A.MacDonald despised the French and Indigenous people in Canada, and therefore the Metis people represented the worst of all worlds to him. Throwing the weight of the Canadian Armed Forces (and the now battle ready Canadian Pacific Railway) he eventually crushed the Rebellion, or at least the soul of it, with the help of local and provincial governments.
The Battle of Batoche was the beginning of the end and thus marked the beginning of undisputed Anglo European rule over the West and the end of a dream for a better, more peaceful way of life for Metis and First Nations.