Have any of you ever heard of Louis Riel? For our most recent project we learned all about the history Louis Riel, his portrayals over the historical period of his life and how he was an important historical figure to Canada, with the driving question of “How has the Portrayal of Riel Changed Over Time?”.
To learn about Riel and to work up to having a good understanding of him, we did a bunch of research! We looked at how artists portrayed him through statues, such as “Joyal’s Louis Riel at the Manitoba Legislature”. This is a statue made in 1996 that can be seen in front of the Legislative buildings in Manitoba. Another source we used for research and understanding was the “Louis Riel Heritage Minute”. We watched this video, and then wrote a mini paragraph about how we thought it portrays Louis Riel.
The heritage minute video:
We also improved our writing skills in order to write a multi paragraph response to the driving question. The first few lessons we touched up on things we already knew like synonyms and antonyms. Then we just deepened our understanding on more complex words and more professional ways to say things.
There were multiple drafts and trials to try and create a final multi paragraph response. We had help from our peers and teachers to make some edits. Along with gaining feedback and giving peer critique, we also learned how to properly improve our editing skills. With these skills we made it so that the final result of our work, and our peers work could reach its full potential.
Here are some of the most recent edits I have received:
Our class learned about the portrayals of Riel, in order to understand the important events in Canadian history. Louis Riel was part of the history of Canada, he helped found Manitoba! Being able to write is also a very valuable skill, and touching up on your writing skills is important to do from time to time. In the future if I ever have to look back on my Canadian history knowledge, then I can confidently say that Riel was a big part of Canadian history. Louis was Riel historical!
Click here to see my multi paragraph response:
Louis Riel is portrayed in many different ways, depending on the time period, and the view one has on the history involving him. The start of the story was in 1812, when the Red River settlement was formed. During the mid 1800’s there were multiple groups arriving and settling in the Red River colony. Louis Riel was born in 1844 to a Métis father and a French Canadian mother. He was already a leader in his family, being the eldest of 11 children. He spoke the French language, as well as being a practicing Catholic. The groups directly involved with the story of Louis Riel were the English and Scottish settlers, and several different cultures, including the Métis who had already settled in the Red River. In 1868 the Hudson’s Bay Company was going to sell the colony to the British, who would then sell it to the Canadian government. However the First Nations and Métis who lived on the land were not consulted about this sale. This is where Louis Riel comes into the story.
Before the sale was finalized, the Canadian government sent surveyors to scope out the land. When they entered the Métis land however, they did not ask for permission. In 1869, Métis community leader Louis Riel and a dozen other armed Metis drove the surveyors away from a farm belonging to Riel's cousin. The Métis now controlled Red River after this action of resistance. In December of 1869 the Métis established their own provisional government. At this time Riel is seen or portrayed as a courageous leader to the Métis, a hero of sorts, who didn’t give up his land or his people. A secondary source that portrays this is the statue “Joyal’s Louis Riel at the Manitoba Legislature”. It portrays Riel as professional and strong, because his posture is straight and he is wearing professional robes. To others, specifically the Canadian government, Riel was seen as a nuisance, a rebel, someone who was a problem, or just in the way of there plans.
In 1870 one of the most beneficial members of a group called the Canadian Party, Thomas Scott was then trialed for disobedience, he was found guilty by Louis Riel and was executed. The cause of this was that the Canadian Party attempted to overthrow Louis Riel and the provisional government. The tables turned for Riel, he could now be seen as unjust, wicked and wrongful of killing a man who didn’t agree with him. There was discontent in Canada; people wanted Riel to be caught and hung. On May 12th, 1870 with the help of Louis Riel, Manitoba became a province, through negotiations between the federal and provisional government. In many Canadian history textbook and resources, Riel will be mentioned because of his influence in the Manitoba act. In these textbooks he is portrayed as a influential political figure with the nickname of “the founding father of Manitoba”.
Now Manitoba is a province, but despite that there is still conflict! Riel was getting may death threats, and they were damaging his mental heath. 1200 Canadian troops were sent to assassinate him. In fear of death he fled over the American boarder. He couldn’t live in Canada because he feared for his life. Riel was also a religious man, who faithfully believed in God. While he was in exile, he had delusions that he was a prophet sent by God to defend the Métis. In the end, he came back across the boarder, surrendered, and was executed by the Canadian government. Another statue made to portray Riel is “Lemay and Gadboury’s Abstract Louis Riel Statue”. It portrays Riel as shamed, crazy or even deformed and defeated, because his mental heath was hurting him and he was getting death threats. The sides that were with him were the Métis, French speaking, and Catholics, all of which supported him and thought of him as a hero. The other sides however, the English, Protestant and Europeans, did not support him and thought of him as rebellious and cruel.
In conclusion, Riels portrayals overtime changed with every action he took. Today Riel has schools named after him, artwork representing him, and a national day dedicated to him. His execution is now generally thought of as a wrongful action, and was apologized for by the Canadian government in 1998. Today he is still a hero for the Métis in Canada!
Thank you so much for reading!