Saturday, July 20, 2024

City of Belleville proclaims Nov. 16 Louis Riel Day in honour of Métis leader

The Metis flag flies alongside the Canadian flag. – Photo via ictinc.ca

A profound proclamation was acknowledged during Tuesday’s City of Belleville regular council meeting to honour the history and significance Métis peoples have had in shaping our nation into the Canada we know it as today.

Ward 2 Councillor Paul Carr brought forward the declaration in proclaiming Nov. 16 Louis Riel Day during the latter part of Tuesday’s council meeting, during announcements from councillors. He briefly summarized for council and staff the history and significance of this day, explaining why it was important that the City of Belleville acknowledge it.

“Louis Riel was a great Métis leader who was executed by the Canadian government in 1885 for leading the Northwest Resistance in defense of Métis rights and way of life,” Carr said. Louis Riel Day is observed in Canada, and across Métis homelands, on Nov. 16, which is the anniversary of Riel’s execution in 1885. According to the Government of Canada, Canadians are asked to “reflect on Louis Riel and his important role in advocacy of the Métis Nation and his help in building the Canada we know today.”

In 2020, Hon. Minister Dan Vandal addressed the nation regarding the importance of Louis Riel Day. “On this day … we pay our respects and remember a man who was a great Métis leader by recognizing his advocacy for the protection of the rights and culture of the Métis Nation. It is because of him that the Métis will never again be ignored or forgotten and we celebrate that across the Homeland.”

Riel, who was known as “Father of Manitoba,” was famous for his passion, respect for difference, advocacy for justice, and his unwavering defense of Métis and francophone rights, according to the Government of Canada. On Tuesday, Carr reiterated the significance and impact Riel has had in shaping the nation.

“It is held to remember what real sacrifice was made and to renew commitments,” Carr said. “The Métis struggled to protect their rights, communities and families.”

On Thursday, in recognition of Louis Riel Day, the City of Belleville will fly a Métis flag at the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre, starting at 1 p.m. to show unity in honoring Métis people and culture. This proclamation aims to promote awareness of Métis culture and foster a greater understanding of the unique history Métis have in the formation of Canada, and the City of Belleville.

Carr said it is important for the City of Belleville to follow suit in recognizing this historic day. “The Nation of Ontario recognizes the many contributions of the Métis to Canada and highlights the challenges that Métis communities continue to face today,” Carr said to council on Tuesday.

According to the Métis Nation of Ontario, Riel was put on trial, convicted for treason, and executed. “As a result, Métis people across Canada were labelled as traitors and for generations, many felt the need to hide their Métis culture and heritage,” the Métis Nation of Ontario explains on its website. Despite oppression, Métis people have persevered and passed on their culture and history to current generations.

Métis are rich in cultural heritage and played a pivotal role in creating what is known as Canada today. The resilience of the Métis people, and their historical fight for justice, are recognized on Louis Riel Day across the nation.

The day serves as a bridge connecting the past with the present; acknowledging wrongdoings and misunderstandings to work toward understanding and meeting on common ground. It is a day to appreciate and reflect upon Métis people and culture, and their contributions to Canada’s legacy.

The day serves as a bridge connecting the past with the present; acknowledging wrongdoings and misunderstandings to work toward understanding and meeting on common ground. It is a day to appreciate and reflect upon Métis people and culture, and their contributions to Canada’s legacy.

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