Have you ever wondered how the Province of Manitoba came to be? I sure have! In our latest project, we learned all about Louis Riel, a crucial figure in Canadian history. Riel was a leader, a resolute, and a scholar, but also a real person whose life was lost for the betterment of Canada.
Our most recent project, titled “Let’s Get Riel,” was all about the Métis leader, Louis Riel, and how he’s been portrayed throughout history. The Métis are a group of people with mixed ancestry that still reside in Canada today. Sadly, they were not very well liked by the local indigenous or the settlers, which led to feuds that would eventually become bigger problems. The relationship between the Métis and the settlers has been complex and difficult due to the lack of respect that the colonizers had for the balance that existed before they started to get too greedy. This seems to be a similar issue that the indigenous people had with the Métis, as they saw them as colonizers trying to take their land and resources.
The goal of this project was to deepen our understanding of Canadian history, as well as improve our writing skills. We did this by examining statues and texts of Riel that have been created throughout history. You can read about these examples in my Multi Paragraph Response, which is all about Riel’s portrayals. This final project was all about using different mediums and sources to explain our thoughts, and the thoughts of others. I am proud to say that I learned so much about my own writing, as well as as how others write and think.
I learned a lot from this project, even if it was a bit shorter than our previous ones. While I believe that taking a typical standpoint on Canadian history is important to understanding it, taking new perspectives can often lead to a more sophisticated end result. This is a skill that I know I can apply to other projects and writing in the future, which has made this project a valuable stepping stone for me. If you want to read my response to the driving question, the Multi Paragraph Response, you can click the accordion below. To view the Heritage Minute mentioned in my response, click the link below. Thank you for reading, and have a great day!
Portrayals of Louis Riel throughout history reflect varying perspectives on his controversial actions and his impact on Canadian history. For example, the three statues of him that have been erected all show contrasting sides of the Métis Leader. These statues were all created in different times, and all show snippets of Canada’s perception of him. Considering his controversial actions and his standing as a religious leader, he was revered by his people, but widely hated throughout the rest of Canada. The Métis had difficult relations with the local Indigenous populations as well, which didn’t give them many allies. This is also visible in the Louis Riel Heritage Minute by Historica Canada. This text portrays Riel as a respected and inspiring individual, yet his thoughts were getting drowned out by the government officials sentencing him and telling him why his actions were wrong. This example, like the statues, show how different sources convey Riel differently.
Louis Riel has three statues dedicated to him, all painting him in a different light. For example, in 1968, John Nugent created the first statue, which shows him reaching for the sky in a heroic way. Riel was a religious leader, and I believe that this shows his faithful and humble side. While being fairly respectful, this sculpture doesn’t show Riel as a scholar or a political figure. Sadly, this wasn’t as important at the time, as he was still seen as a dangerous rebel, as can be seen in his next statue. Created by Marcien Lemay and Étienne Gaboury, and unveiled in 1973, this statue showed Riel as a sort of madman who needs to be restrained. This statue caused too much controversy, and was eventually taken down due to its disrespectful portrayal of Riel. At this point, the Métis were sick of people disrespecting someone so important to them, that they demanded it be replaced. Finally, in 1996, Riel’s replacement statue was unveiled, showing him for how he really was to his people: a hero, a resolute, and most importantly, a leader. This side of Riel is also prominent in the Heritage Minute, created in 1991. It’s likely that his latest statue drew inspiration from the documentary and other historical texts to show this version of Riel.
Riel himself was involved in a number of wars and disputes which eventually led to the rebels killing a man named Thomas Scott by firing squad. Riel was put on trial and executed for leading the assault, and in his final moments, he reflected on his life, the decisions that he made, and what he wanted for his people going forward. People saw Riel differently throughout history, which is true of any important figure, although he seemed to get the short end of the stick with this, considering how he was treated. He was a faithful man who loved his people and was willing to fight for them, which led to his downfall. To summarize, Louis Riel faced all kinds of backlash and praise for his actions and words, which led people to view him differently throughout history.