Louis Riel: Father Of Confederation Or A Treasonous Rebel?

1285 words - 6 pages

"We must cherish our inheritance. We must preserve our nationality for the youth of our future. The story should be written down to pass on." (Louis Riel, 1884). Louis Riel, a man of great nature and abiding love for his western Métis heritage, is proven to be one of the most revolutionary men looked upon in the chronicles of the Dominion of Canada. In spite of this, he remains as one of the most controversial and cryptic figures throughout the course of Canadian history, leading to the question, is he recognized as the Father of Confederation or a treasonous rebel? A period of revolution lasting from the 1870’s to the late 1880’s was condemned with constant revolts justified as an ...view middle of the document...

This led to inevitable disputes concerning beliefs and customs between the clashes of the two cultures. The Canadian government even issued ‘scrip’ to the Métis as an alternative to instituting lands in Manitoba. Another case of interaction involved Métis children; they were dispatched to remote residential schools and were assimilated and exposed to the ‘white culture’. In face of the racist Canadian government, they were unresponsive to the pleas of the Métis people for support in conserving their identity, which left them unrepresented in their struggle for their land and constitutional rights. Individual’s that were of Métis descent were half European and half Aboriginal, which meant they could only possess half the rights. Louis Riel was pushed over the edge by the discrimination of his people and the unfairness impinged upon them; action needed to be taken.

Louis Riel undertook the initiative and negotiated with the Canadian government on behalf of resuscitating his Métis heritage, however, that led to a dispute that resulted in the Red River Rebellion. This was one of the two major rebellions that took place under his command. In 1869, the Hudson’s Bay Company retailed their territorial rights to Canada. In cooperation, both parties paid no attention to the Métis people residing in the Red River Colony. Shortly, Louis Riel established a provisional government and tried to cooperate with the Canadian government. However, that led to the movement of independence, the Red River Resistance, which was ruled by Riel and mainly compromised of individuals mixed with European and Indian blood from the Red River Colony. The uprising aim was to preserve their rights as Métis individuals. This period was particularly volatile. Riel encouraged his fellow mixed-bloods to fight for their privileges through armed conflicts. The Canadian government was not ministering the Métis rights, as they were invading their property without consent and stripping their civil liberties to live as individuals in society. To add to the adversity, Riel executed an individual who went against his provisional regime, Thomas Scott. When reports and rumours spread westward about Scott's execution, Riel was recognized as a felon. This led the government to view Louis Riel as a national criminal. As a result, Manitoba was established as a province from the Red River settlement, the Manitoba Act was enacted and Riel fled into exile within U.S borders after the execution of Thomas Scott. Overall, he attempted to take a stand against a bureaucracy that threatened the Métis way of life, only to have to escape in fear of being executed.

The second rebellion took place in 1885, branded as the Northwest Resistance. It began once again when unresolved Métis grievances towards the Canadian Government began to heighten. They were apprehensive regarding the encroachment onto their lands by the...

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