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Louis Riel—Hero, or Traitor?

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Kari Peltonen

on 20 February 2015

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Transcript of Louis Riel—Hero, or Traitor?

Life of Riel
Louis Riel was born in the Red River Settlement (present day Manitoba) on October 22, 1844. He was sent off to Montreal to become a lawyer, and by 1868 Riel was back in the Red River. Riel quickly emerged as a leader among the Métis of Red River. In 1869-1870 he created a provisional government, which would eventually create the Manitoba Act with the Canadian government. The Act established Manitoba as a province and provided some protection for French culture.
Louis' involvement in the decision to execute an Orangeman named Thomas Scott enraged primarily English and anti-French population in Ontario. Although chosen for a seat in the House of Commons on three elections, he was unable to take his seat in the house. In 1875, Riel's role in the death of Scott resulted in his exile from Canada. He fled.
In 1884, while he and his family lived in Montana, Riel was asked by the Métis of Saskatchewan to aid them fight the Canadian government. By March of 1885, Métis patience was exhausted and a temporary government was declared.
Riel was the head of the 1885 Rebellion, The North West Rebellion. Riel was increasingly influenced by his belief that he was chosen to lead the Métis people. On May 15 Riel surrendered to Canadian forces and was taken to Regina to stand trial for treason.
On August 1st 1885, a jury of six English-speaking Protestants found Riel guilty. Which is not surprising since Louis was a French-speaking Catholic in a time when there was large tension between the two cultures. Judge Hugh Richardson sentenced him to death. He was hanged in Regina on November 16, 1885. His execution was widely opposed in Quebec and had lasting political complications.

The Red River Rebellion
The Red River Rebellion was the first of Riel's two western rebellions. It began in 1869 when Riel and his fellow Métis fought against Canadian military in Red River (now Manitoba). In 1870, the rebellion ended when Riel's Métis arrested an Orangeman named Thomas Scott. Thomas was arrested for threatening to murder Louis on March 4th. In June, a man named Wolsely arrived with a hundred men. They wanted military power but did not seek to hurt Riel. The Métis made a militia to fight Wolesly, but sadly they were too small. Riel then fled to the US to escape arrest.
Was he a Hero?
"Hero-a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities."
Or was he a Traitor?
"Traitor- a person who is guilty of treason or treachery, in betraying friends, country, a cause or trust, etc."
Our Opinion
Why is Riel the Father of Manitoba?
Louis Riel is called the Father of Manitoba by many because he is the founder of Manitoba and is a spiritual leader of the Métis people. But, most Métis people also call him the Father of Manitoba because he protected them and the area that we now call Manitoba. Another reason Louis is called the Father is because he created the Manitoba Act. This act caused Canada to make French our second language. Along with that it also caused Canada to have the Catholic school board.
louis riel:
heroic leader, or valiant traitor?

There are many reasons to support the accusation of Louis Riel being a traitor to his country. For example, on March 4th, 1870, Thomas Scott was executed by a firing squad. Riel also fought against Canadian military (Red River Rebellion), he prevented Canadian surveyors from entering the territory and defied his country, which is an act of treason. He challenged the newly formed Canadian government and he ran away to the United States after his first rebellion. Louis refused William McDougall entry into Fort Garry which was recently captured by Métis forces. Not only did he capture Fort Garry, he took all the weapons from the fort to supply his Métis militia with weaponry to fight the Canadians.
Was Louis Riel a hero? That depends on the eyes of the beholder. In some instances, people refer to him as a traitor to the newly formed Canadian government. But, to others, he was a man of heroic actions, allowing Manitoba entry into confederation, hence him being referred to as the "Father of Manitoba." He preserved Métis culture
with the Manitoba Act, making sure that the government publishes documents in English and
French. He also created a Provisional
Government while the transfer of
Rupert's Land to the Canadian
Government took place.
We think that Louis Riel was both a hero and a villian. He preserved French culture, prevented Americans from invading Canada, and helped create the Manitoba Act. These actions take bravery, loyalty, and courage. He put the Métis before him, risking his life to save theirs. He was selfless. All great things. But, he also had villianous actions to his name. He executed Thomas Scott, challenged the Canadian government, and fled to the USA.
Concequences of the Rebellions
There are many concequences of the Red River Rebellion and the North West Rebellion that still affect us to this day. The following are five concequesnces Louis Riel's actions had on Canada:
•Manitoba enters confederation (May 12th, 1870)
•Canadian government reconized Métis rights but still controls Métis land
•Louis negotiated that the French language and Catholic religion would be incorporated in elementary schooling
•Without meaning to, Riel caused the Canadian government to organize a military and helped speed up the building of the railroad
•Without intention, he forced the Canadian government defend and protect the West, which was highly sought over by the US, who planned on taking it after they finished their Civil War
By: Kari, Megan, and Matthew wark
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