Essay Preview: Louis Riel
Report this essay
On October 23, 1844, in Red River Manitoba, Louis Riel Sr and Julie Lagimodiere, devout Christians, brought a young MÐ”©tis boy into the world. Little did they know, Louis Riel Jr. would grow up to become known to many as “the founder of Manitoba.” His life was filled with excitement, both political and personal. The question is, were his actions against the government acts of honor and truth, or deception and lies?
Riel Jr.s political adventures did not begin until he was 25. On November 23, 1869, Riel proposed the formation of a provincial government to replace the Council of Assiniboia because he did not believe that they were not doing their jobs well enough to improve the dull life in Red River. On December 10th his flag flew on the pole at Fort Gary. Riel held a convention of twenty French and twenty English Canadians to draw up a new list of rights. The convention sat a week and finished on February 10th. Riel soon formed another provincial government that was more represented than the last. Three delegates were chosen from the provincial government to present the list of formed rights to the Canadian government: Father NoÐ”«l Ritchot, Judge Black and Alfred Scott . On March 24th, the three delegates left for Ottawa to negotiate entry into Confederation and discuss the list of rights. Finally on May 12th, 1870, the list of rights, now known as the “Manitoba Act” , was passed by Canadian parliament. One section protected MÐ”©tis lands, guaranteed the right to their religion, and the use of their language in the legislature and courts, but it seemed not enough. December 16th 1884, Riel dispatched a petition to Ottawa demanding that settlers be given title to the lands they occupied, that the districts of Saskatchewan, Alberta and Assiniboia be granted provincial status, that laws be passed to encourage nomadic Indians and MÐ”©tis to settle on the lands and that they be better treated. On February 11th, 1885, the government answered the petition by promising to appoint a commissioner to investigate the MÐ”©tis claims and titles. First, a lengthy census would be taken of the MÐ”©tis. Riel, since little had been accomplished, questioned his own leadership qualities. The MÐ”©tis reaffirmed their vision of Riel as a leader and asked him to continue as their leader.
Not long after these issues were tabled, a rebellion broke out. It was named the Red River Rebellion. The MÐ”©tis people had revolted against Manitoba for small issues in their communities that angered them. Riel, caught up in the battle, condemned a man named Thomas Scott as a traitor to the provincial government and shot him. This action enraged the anti-Catholic and anti-French communities. In addition, Riel was elected into the Canadian House of Commons in 1873-74 but was denied his seat. He was pardoned in 1875 on the condition he would leave Canada. Both these incidents influenced Riel to go to the United States, where he taught in Montana at a Jesuit Mission, before being asked by the MÐ”©tis to present their grievances to the Canadian Government and be their leader once more.
In 1885, another rebellion commenced. The MÐ”©tis had moved to Saskatchewan and began to fear they would lose their land to new settlers. Riel helped the MÐ”©tis build a stronger, newer provincial government, which resulted in fighting. Government troops eventually defeated the MÐ”©tis and Riel soon surrendered to the government. Riels trial was an interesting one. Riels defense lawyer beseeched him to plead insanity, but Riel proudly refused.
“Your Honors, gentlemen of the jury: It would be easy for me to-day to play insanity, because the circumstances are such as to excite any man, and under the natural excitement of what is taking place to-day (I cannot speak English very well, but am trying to do so, because most of those here speak English), under the excitement which my trial causes me would justify me not to appear as usual, but with my mind out of its ordinary condition. I hope with the help of God I will maintain calmness and decorum as suits this honorable court, this honorable juryÐIf you take the plea of the defense that I am not responsible for my acts, acquit me completely since