Happy Louis Riel Day 2010 .. that’s what it should be called everywhere in Canada, coast to coast to coast

Feb 15th, 2010 | By | Category: In Brief
On the third Monday of February nowadays Manitoba celebrates a holiday called Louis Riel Day. Why not have a holiday called Louis Riel Day in all provinces and territories, coast to coast to coast?

On the third Monday of February nowadays Manitoba celebrates a holiday called Louis Riel Day. Why not have a holiday called Louis Riel Day in all provinces and territories, coast to coast to coast?

GANATSEKWYAGON, ONTARIO. MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2010. Today — the third Monday in February — is a statutory holiday in five Canadian provinces. It’s called Family Day in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario; Islanders Day in Prince Edward Island; and Louis Riel Day in Manitoba.

Louis Riel, in case you’ve forgotten, was a Canadian  Métis (ie mixed race) leader, a founder of Manitoba, and a key figure in the old North West Rebellion (for which he was hung by the neck until dead in what is now Regina, Saskatchewan, on November 16, 1885). Riel has been called “one of the most controversial figures in Canadian history.” But we think this particular historical tide has turned. Two years ago we published an article arguing that the still quite new Family Day holiday should be called Louis Riel Day in Ontario too.

Statue of Louis Riel on Manitoba Legislative Building Grounds, Winnipeg.

Statue of Louis Riel on Manitoba Legislative Building Grounds, Winnipeg.

We’re briefly reviving this article this year. (CLICK HERE for the original.) In 2010 we think the third Monday in February should be a statutory holiday in all Canadian provinces and territories — known as Louis Riel Day everywhere, to honour the historic Métis leader who did so much to pioneer Canadian diversity today (and who suffered too much for his trouble in his own time).

Two other vaguely related matters may be worth some further brief mention.

February 15, 2010 is also flag day in Canada — in commemoration of the official proclamation of the independent Canadian maple leaf flag, on February 15, 1965.

The ghost of Louis Riel would no doubt equally want to congratulate Alexandre Bilodeau of Montreal, who on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2010 won Canada’s first Olympic gold medal on home soil in the men’s freestyle moguls skiing event at Cypress Mountain, in beautiful (rainy) British Columbia.  (And see also: “Une première médaille gagnée à la maison“; “Vancouver aux sommets … On peut jouer au golf le matin, skier l’après-midi et randonner à bicyclette en fin de journée“; “French language an afterthought at Games, Quebec critics charge“; and “Sondage Léger Marketing-Le Devoir – Le PLC en remontée au Québec.”)

Tags: ,


3 comments
Leave a comment »

  1. I agree totally! The third Monday of February it is :))
    My grandfather went to school with Louis Riel in Montreal.
    Louis Riel and his allies did so much for all Canadian.
    We owe this commemoration to the homeland people.

    Joanne (fourth generation)
    Sudbury, Ontario

  2. I don’t know if you realize this but Riel was considered a traitor to the Canadian Government. He was charged with high treason to the country. Why would the government approve a nationwide day celebrating him? Some English speaking Canadians still agree he was a traitor, while French speaking Canadians see him as a hero. In Manitoba, the holiday is only named Louis Riel Day because of a vote that was approved by the provincial government, Parliament had nothing to do with the naming.

  3. Of course we realize that Riel was once “considered a traitor” Jessica. If you had clicked on the original counterweights piece by historian Randall White to which we refer here, you would have seen that he writes: “In an earlier era it was often enough said that Louis Riel was regarded as a traitor to the new Canadian confederation of 1867 in English-speaking Protestant Ontario – and as a martyr in French-speaking Catholic Quebec … “
    (See “It should be Louis Riel Day in Ontario too”)
    http://www.counterweights.ca/2008/02/louis_riel/

    But Mr. White also writes: “More recently … these earlier attitudes have been thrown into question.” And he goes on to spell out why. You are of course too entitled to your own opinion, Jessica. (And thanks for letting us hear it.) But our opinion is that you are talking too much in the voice of a past the majority in the country has now grown beyond. The US government used to think African American slavery was quite legal. But it does not think this today. In our view the hanging of Louis Riel (for treason, as you say, in the eyes of many then) was a historic injustice. Manitoba has now honourably moved to correct this injustice, among other things by holding a Louis Riel day once a year. We think the rest of Canada should join in. (And, in our view again, those who still think Louis Riel was a traitor need to study their real Canadian history harder.)

Leave Comment