Manitoba Celebrates Louis Riel Day, Manitoba’s 1st Premier

Louis Riel was a champion for Métis rights and freedom

Louis David Riel 22 October 1844 – 16 November 1885) was a Canadian politician, a founder of the province of Manitoba, and a political leader of the Métis people of the Canadian Prairies. He led two revolutions against the government of Canada and its first post-Confederation prime minister, John A. Macdonald. He was a father of Canada’s Confederation who played a pivotal role bringing the West into Canada.

Riel sought to preserve Métis rights and culture as their homelands in the Northwest came progressively under the Canadian sphere of influence. Over the decades, he has been made a folk hero by Francophones, Catholic nationalists, native rights activists, and the New Left student movement. Arguably, Riel has received more scholarly attention than any other figure in Canadian history.

“In spite of the many hardships our people have faced since the founding of our province, we have never given up on the inclusive vision Riel had for our Homeland, what was once known as the Northwest. Our rights were denied in 1870, but today, our Nation is growing stronger. We have taken many strides toward finding our rightful place in our country’s present and future.” Said David Chartrand, President of The Manitoba Metis Federation

Although Louis Reil has been credited as being the founder of Manitoba, he has still never received the official recognition of being the province’s first Premier. Throughout the years, various Manitoban governments have made symbolic jesters of acknowledging Premier Riel for the role he played but have all stopped short of giving him the official designation as Premier.