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Louis Riel ( the Canadian Rebellion of 1885)

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  1. Introduction
  2. Louis Riel, voice of the Métis
  3. Which problems were behind the rebellion?
  4. The Rebellion was perceived differently throughout Canada
  5. The death of Louis Riel
  6. Conclusion

1885 was not the first Métis rebellion, the Métis had already rebelled in Red River in 1869.The Métis were against the sale to Canada of territories held by the Hudson's Bay Company Historically the Métis were separated into two groups. The first one was composed of French speaking Métis who were the descendants of fur traders from Quebec. Most were Roman Catholics. On the other hand, the second group was English speaking. They were the descendants of English and Scottish traders and were often protestant. Their fight had led to the creation of the province of Manitoba. The new province was self -governing. They had received special guarantees for the French language and the Catholic religion. They had even formed a provisional government.

Soon clashes appeared mostly after the execution of Thomas Scott; an Orangeman who had helped organize an armed opposition against the Métis.The reason for this execution can be explained by Riel's own words « we must make Canada respect us » . Louis Riel had to flee the province, a general amnesty was only proclaimed in 1875. The problem was that it was a qualified amnesty; Riel had to remain in exile for five years .

[...] [2]Louis Riel. The Diaries of louis Riel (edited by Thomas Flanagan) Stanley,G.F.G.Louis Riel Patriot or Rebel p 14 Stanley. Op.cit.p15 Riel.Op.cit. p 13 Riel.Op.cit. p 9 idem Encarta, Metis Riel.Op.cit. [10]Giraud.Op.cit. p 411 [11]Morton,A.S. A History of the Canadian West to 1870 ,page 827 idem [13]Giraud. Op. Cit. p 415 encarta.Op.cit. [15]idem Silver and Vailleur.Op. [...]

[...] The Métis and the Natives who had heavily relied on them were now facing starvation. For example when in 1881 a rumour spread that the buffalo were coming back, the Métis of the ?Qu' appelle? river abandoned their fields and started to look in vain for buffalos[15]. Their traditional way of life was destroyed but they refused to adopt the white men's way of life. III) The Rebellion was perceived differently throughout Canada The Métis saw the 1885 rebellion has a fight for the survival of their culture. [...]

[...] Louis Riel was arrested and sentenced to death for treason. In fact Easterners could not understand that the main cause of the rebellion was the refusal of a sedentary way of life. Métis and natives were afraid of loosing their identity. They were now also outnumbered by white settlers and were against the idea of being assimilated. They were very proud of their French ancestry but they did not want to be part of a new Quebec, they wanted to form their own nation. [...]

[...] The rebellion showed the Métis at the height of their power but also marked the beginning of their decline. Louis Riel appears to modern day Canadians as a pathetic dreamer, a misunderstood prophet and, still to others, as a truly insane man. Bibliography Barron, F. Laurie and Waldram B and after. Encarta Encyclopedia the Metis. Giraud, Marcel. The Metis Canadian West Morton, A.S. A History of the Canadian West to Riel, L . The Diaries of louis Riel (edited by Thomas Flanagan) Stanley,G.F.G.Louis Riel Patriot or Rebel Barron ,F. Laurie and Waldram B and after. [...]

[...] For them the land was fertile and needed to be ploughed. They saw natives as being primitives and thought that their own way of life was civilised and because of that, desirable. Some Easterners even saw the disappearance of the buffalos as a step toward civilisation This can be seen in the letters of Father Lestanc who wrote to his superior Monseigneur Tache: ?only the destruction of the bison can put an end to the winterings. Hard lessons of prolonged hunger are needed to teach our poor people to take up again the plough and the pickaxe?[20]. [...]

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