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
A Brief Foreword by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper – There 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.”
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