Paying Tribute on Louis Riel Day in Canada – A Metis Leader elevated from ‘dangerous rebel’ status to a “courageous and impassioned defender of minority rights”

The Lies Our Teachers Once Taught Us About the Now Celebrated Metis Leader

A Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on Louis Riel Day with a Foreword from Niagara At Large

Posted November 16th, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Canadian Metis leader Louis Riel, once vilified in our high school history books, now celebrated

A Brief Foreword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug DraperThere is a book I would invite everyone who has been dragged through the public school system in Canada and the United States to read called ‘Lies My Teacher Told Me’ by James W. Loewen.

This best-selling book, first published in 1995 and updated at least once in 2007, deals mostly with ‘lies’ or ‘myth’s taught in American schools about a host of historical events from Christopher Columbus and the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving to the Vietnam War – but the book came to mind for this Canadian  this November 16th as our country’s current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, circulated a statement (posted below) on Louis Riel Day.

In the statement, Trudeau pays tribute to Riel as “founder of the province of Manitoba,” and “a courageous and impassioned defender of minority rights,” among other very positive and uplifting things.

That is certainly a world removed from what I and millions of others from the baby boomer generation were taught about the 19th Century Metis leader while suffering our way through high school history classes in Canada in the 1960s. Among the lies our teachers taught about Riel back then is that he was a dangerous rebel and something akin to a modern-day domestic terrorist who deserved to be hung to death in the shadow of  John A. Macdonald, the then-Canadian prime minister who was knighted by the British motherland around that time and later s elevated to a level of near sainthood in our classrooms.

While we were taught nothing but negative things about Riel, we certainly were not taught that the horrid history of residential schools – Canada’s equivalent of concentration camps for indigenous people, that were never once referred to in our government-issued history books – and the genocidal policies of starving indigenous people to death to clear them off their lands for white settlers were launched under Macdonald.

Someone should do an equivalent of James L oewen’s book for the lies taught in Canadian schools.)

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement today on Louis Riel Day:

“Today, we commemorate the life of Louis Riel, a fearless Métis leader, politician, and founder of the province of Manitoba.

“Louis Riel was a courageous and impassioned defender of minority rights and a key contributor to Canadian Confederation. Today, we celebrate a man who envisioned – and fought for – a more diverse and more inclusive country.

“Last year, I promised that federal ministers and Métis Nation leaders would work together to advance meaningful reconciliation and solve important challenges. Earlier this year, we took a significant step toward a renewed government-to-government relationship with the signing of the Canada-Métis Nation Accord. This accord is a solid foundation on which to build a new partnership – one based on recognition of rights, respect, and co-operation.

“As we continue our journey of reconciliation, I encourage everyone today to honour the Métis people and recognize their many contributions to Canada.”

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater binational Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

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2 responses to “Paying Tribute on Louis Riel Day in Canada – A Metis Leader elevated from ‘dangerous rebel’ status to a “courageous and impassioned defender of minority rights”

  1. The teachers were just teaching the rhetoric of enslavery as they were then “brain washed” into knowing and then teaching to the children. This Gentleman Louis Reil along with Tecumseh, the savior of Canada deserve to be immortalized with the same idolization CHINA has bestowed on their Canadian Hero Norman Bethune…Another Canadian painted with the hierarchy’s brush of hatred and disgrace because they cared for their fellow man….Without a greedy bone in their bodies.

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  2. Another lie is the War of 1812 between the US and Canada. There was no Canada as a state in 1812, only two colonies of Britain called Upper Canada and Lower Canada.
    In Niagara we celebrated the ‘beginning’ of that war 200 years later in 2012! Who celebrates the beginning of a war? In the States Niagara Falls got it correct two years later by recognizing the end of hostilities.

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