Louis Riel, hanged for treason in 16 November 1885 in Regina, SK. He was rebelling against the Canadian government’s claims to the North-Western Territory and Rupert’s Land, thus announced guilty of treason. Louis Riel was the Métis leader, founder of Manitoba, central figure in the Red River and North-West resistances (born 22 October 1844 in Saint-Boniface, Red River Settlement; died 16 November 1885 in Regina, SK). Riel led two popular Métis governments and was central in bringing Manitoba into Confederation, and was executed for high treason for his role in the 1885 resistance to Canadian encroachment on Métis lands.
Riel was dismissed as a rebel by Canadian politicians.. His dad likely influenced him into the loyalist he is towards Metis people by organizing a large Métis resistance to the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) fur-trading monopoly at the trial of Pierre-Guillaume Sayer in 1849. From the beginning of his formal education, Riel emerged as a standout student.
He also acquired a passion for poetry, which he nurtured for the rest of his life. While studying for priesthood, Riel met a young French Canadian woman, Marie-Julie Guernon, to whom he quietly became engaged. However, due to racial constraints, Guernon’s parents refused to allow her to marry a Métis man and the engagement was broken off. Riel left the seminary and moved back to Red River.
In March 1869, the HBC agreed to sell Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory to the Canadian government, but the Metis and First Nations people living there was angry at the decision since they were living on the land for a long time. When Louis Riel died, his sisters (Henriette Riel, Marie Riel, Octavie Riel, Eulalie Riel) were still alive, along with his brothers (Joseph Riel, Alexandre Riel). His daughter (Marie-Angélique Riel), his son (Jean-Louis Riel), his wife (Marguerite Monet) and his mother (Julie Lagimodière) were still alive at the time of Louis Riel’s execution. Louis Riel fought hard for his own land and people. It is in human’s nature to protect people and possessions that you care about.
Riel’s actions were never selfish; he always thought for the greater good. He could have kept his mouth shut when the lawyers argued that Riel was insane, but just to support his people, he admitted that he was in fact normal, as an insane person would not be able to make such a speech. Unfortunately, his sacrifice was in vain, as the Metis’ land were taken anyways.