On November 21, we gathered to honour our Metis brothers and sisters, and raised a flag to honour Louis Riel Day.
Who are the Metis people?
- The Historic Métis emerged as a distinct people and nation on the plains of western North America during the late 1700’s. Metis people typically have Cree or Ojibwe and French or Scottish ancestry. They developed a culture that was not European nor First Nations but rather a fusion of the two cultures.
- Métis have been documented in BC as early as 1793
- Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) was established in 1996 as the representative organization for Métis in BC.
- In our district, we are honoured to have many teachings shared by our Metis Elders. Crawford Bay students know our dear Elder, Donna Wright. Another Elder that supports us a lot in our school district is Elder Bob Adams. We also are very supported by Elder Don Courson who is the president of the Nelson and Area Metis, as well as knowledge keeper Maurice Trudel.
Louis Riel Day
- On November 16th, we celebrate Louis Riel Day.
- He was a famous Metis leader.
- One of his titles was “The Father of Manitoba”
- He negotiated Manitoba’s entry into Canada in 1871.
- Louis Riel was elected to Parliament 3 times, but never took his seat. He returned to the Northwest at the request of the Métis during the initial stages of the Northwest Resistance in 1884.
- Following the defeat of the Métis at Batoche, Riel was tried for treason. His lawyers tried to plea insanity as his defense, but Louis Riel denied those claims. He was found guilty of High Treason in May 1885.
- Despite the jury recommending leniency, he was sentenced to hang. During his own life, Riel was recognized as the father of Manitoba and is currently acknowledged to be a founding father of Confederation in Canada.
- In addition to advocating for Métis rights, Riel also fought for greater religious freedom, French language rights, First Nations rights, and greater gender equality throughout the Northwest. Riel died as an advocate for the Métis and as a defender of minority rights in general.
- It is Riel’s legacy that continues to attract Métis to remember the ideals and values that he died defending. For that reason, Métis across the homeland commemorate the anniversary of his death, as opposed to the day he was born.
- Louis Riel Day is a day to celebrate the lasting culture and impact that Métis have had on Canadian society. It is a day to recount that Métis have long advocated democracy and freedom of expression for all Canadians.
Fun Facts about the Metis. Did you know….
- Métis people have their own unique culture. It is n mixture of cultures of the First Nations, French Canadian, English, and Orkney/Scottish.
- The Métis are known for their love of fiddle playing, but traditional instruments also included the concertina, the harmonica, and the hand drum.
- Metis people have a style of dancing called jigging. Traditionally, dancing included such moves as the Waltz Quadrille, the Square dance, Drops of Brandy, the Duck, La Double Gigue and the Red River Jig.
- Metis people were famous for their horsemanship and breeding of horses
- Métis people have their own language called “Michif”. This language was a result of the combining of French nouns and Cree verbs.
- One item of clothing worn by Métis people is the sash. It is traditionally about three metres in length and is made by weaving yarn together with one’s fingers. The sash is worn around the waist, tied in the middle, with the fringed ends hanging.
Famous Metis People
- Today we are learning about Louis Riel. Two other famous Métis leaders were Cuthbert Grant and Gabriel Dumont.
- Tantoo Cardinal, actress; of Métis and Cree ancestry
- Jon Gallant, bassist for the Canadian band Billy Talent
- Kinnie Starr, musician
- Actor August Schellenberg is of Métis descent (Free Willy and Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee)
- Metis writer and filmmaker Maria Campbell has shown the sound and song of traditional stories through her work
- On May 7, 2004, Métis Todd Ducharme became a judge of the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice.
- Other well known Canadians of Métis descent are Sharon Bruneau, a Canadian female bodybuilder and fitness model
- British Columbia New Democratic Party Leader Carole James is of partly Métis ancestry.
- NHL star defenceman Sheldon Souray is of Métis ancestry.
- Former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin is of partly Métis ancestry.
- Canadian Professional Wrestler Ben Saulnier, better known for his ring name Jake Benson, is a Métis from Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada.