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Louis Riel Day

Louis Riel Day 2019 and 2020

Louis Riel Day is observed on the third Monday of February for the Métis to celebrate their leader and their history in Canada.

Year Date Day Holiday Provinces and Territories
2019 18 Feb Mon Louis Riel Day MB
2020 17 Feb Mon Louis Riel Day MB

Louis Riel is remembered as “the Father of Manitoba”, even though he was hanged for treason in 1885. The reason for this paradox is that Louis Riel, a Métis himself, led the Métis and other locals in the Red River Resistance against incursions into their lands by the Canadian government. The land was owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company at the time but was lived on and worked by the Métis and some early pioneers.

Canada planned an annexation that may well have destroyed the livelihood of the inhabitants of the region. In response, Riel organised a militia and declared a new province of Manitoba. The conflict continued during the winter of 1869 to 1870.

In 1870, the Manitoba Act recognised the new province, but Riel was expelled and eventually executed in 1885 for his execution of an unruly subordinate back in 1870. Before he could be brought to the gallows, however, he had already aided another Métis rebellion, the Northwest Rebellion, in 1884 in the neighbouring province of Saskatchewan.

Anyone visiting Manitoba should consider planning their trip to include Louis Riel Day if at all possible. It is to Manitoba what the Fourth of July is to the U.S. or Bastille Day is to the French. It is a time of many community events and much fanfare, all piled on top of all the usual Manitoban tourist attractions.

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