So, I was on Facebook one day while avoiding my thesis and I came across a group that was petitioning to make the brand-spanking new Louis Riel Day in Manitoba a National Holiday. Personally, I think the cause is a little silly, but the ensuing and heated debate in the Facebook tradition was very fascinating. Apparently, Canada is still very divided about Riel and his role in Canadian history.
Oh, and if you want to discuss this topic, here's the Wikipedia article. If you're going to throw in your two cents, it's worth knowing a bit of background, especially on the whole furor around Thomas Scott's execution. Basically, you should be prepared. Incidentally, the book, Thomas Scott's Body provides a good essay on how confusing this whole situation was.
There's a question about that at the end of the fourth gallery in the ar-way useum-may, whether Riel is a traitor or a hero. Answers I've seen usually range in three categories:
1. "NO WAY, he is NOT a traitor, he is a people to the French and Metis peoples!"
2. "Hell yeah, he's a traitor!"
3. "Why do we care?"
Similarly, the North-West Rebellion has also been renamed "North-West Rebellion," a move some have termed revisionist and others appropriate.
Did you mean North-West Resistance? You wrote Northwest Rebellion twice.
That's interesting though; we still call it the Rebellion (at least in Manitoban Parks Canada sites) because by that point, technically the Northwest was Canadian territory, whereas the Red River Settlement in 1869 was not HBC territory, nor was it properly ceded to Canada. So, the Métis *still* had a claim, which was not the same as Indian Title.
I guess I was more interested in generating some opinions from people on here.
Are the answers at the War Museum display quotes from historic figures, or are they responses generated by the public?
*is dum and haz not been to war muzeem*
Edited at 2008-04-21 04:58 pm (UTC)
Ah, that is so cool!
In a way, the "why do we care?" response is pretty spot-on. Plus, there were other Métis figures that don't get discussed who were equally important in that period. I guess I'm amazed that Riel is still a sexy topic out here...
Yes, Monday. Like I said, it's a good way to avoid a thesis. ;)
On June 3rd, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Frankly, i think the real point is, did Canada have the right to put Riel to death? the answer is NO, Canada had no viable claim to the lands of the Metis (The HBC had never bought the the northwest, they had only been given trading rights in the territories, which should have been the property of the native societies), thus, Riel should not have been deemed a "traitor to Canada" as he was fighting for the rights of a sovereign "state", to join Canada, under it's OWN terms.
Sadly, a combination of "Orange" expansionism and MacDonald's failure to recognise Metis rights, resulted in a situation that could and should have been resolved legally and amicably.
From this event, understandably perhaps, came the public perception that the railway had saved Canada. In fact, it was just the opposite: Riel had saved the railway. At the time of the Northwest Rebellion, the CPR was stalled, in debt and on the verge of being declared bankrupt. Macdonald's national dream had become a national folly - and an expensive one at that. Parliament was not going to back anymore loans, and the possibility of a transcontinental railway was just about to die when word came of a Métis uprising. In an instant, the railway became vital for national security. Parliament rallied, the money came through, and even as General Fredrick Middleton loaded his men on board the trains, work resumed in the Rockies. - Will Ferguson, Bastards and Boneheads Canada's Glorious Leaders Past and Present Douglas & McIntyre Ltd. 1999 Vancouver
Riel himself showed very little rancour when the jury found him guilty. In fact, he felt vindicated: for Riel, the verdict was proof that he wasn't insane. Nor was he angry with Macdonald's refusal to pardon him: "Sir John Macdonald is now committing me to death for the same reason I committed Scott...because it is necessary for this country's good."
- Will Ferguson, Bastards and Boneheads Canada's Glorious Leaders Past and Present Douglas & McIntyre Ltd. 1999 Vancouver