February 15th is Louis Riel Day

** posted on behalf of Ruby Langan, PSAC BC Regional Council Coordinator for Aboriginal Members **

On September 26, 2007, Manitoba legislature passed a bill establishing a statutory holiday on the third Monday in February as Louis Riel Day. Louis Riel was a leader of the Métis people, an Aboriginal people with their own culture, language and heritage. Their ancestral homeland, is now in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia and the Northwest Territories and parts of the north-west of the United States.

Louis Riel was and an educated, groundbreaking Canadian politician, instrumental in many efforts and uprisings to protect the Métis people. After a controversial trial, he was executed for treason in 1885. To this day, the Métis and their allies fight for Riel's posthumous pardon.

Let’s celebrate and learn about our Métis. In numerous communities across Canada, Riel is commemorated with statues, the naming of streets, schools, neighbourhoods, university residences and buildings. Parliament passed a resolution on 10 March 1992 citing that Louis Riel as the founder of Manitoba. The CBC's Greatest Canadian project ranked Riel as the 11th "Greatest Canadian". Do you see the Métis presence? Is there a celebration in your community? Let us know.