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Monday, 18 February 2013

Make LOUIS RIEL DAY a National Holiday!



Make Louis Riel Day a national holiday

| February
Photo: LouisRielDay.com

In 2008, Manitoba celebrated the first Louis Riel Day on February 18. The Métis revolutionary is honoured and commemorated for his role in founding a province "that embraces all cultures." We at rabble.ca believe it is time to make Louis Riel Day a national holiday.
 
Riel was hanged in 1885 by a corrupt, openly racist prime minister who boasted before the execution, "He will hang though every dog in Quebec bark in his favour." The face of Sir John A. Macdonald graces our ten-dollar bill, while the man he killed remains unheralded save a six-cent stamp issued in 1970.
 
With the Idle No More movement driving renewed debate about relations with the Indigenous peoples of this land, a national holiday celebrating a Métis hero would help recognize the long history of resistance to colonization within our borders.
 
Like Idle No More, the Red River Resistance challenged Ottawa's attempt to wrest control of the land from its inhabitants without consultation or compensation. "We may be a small community," he warned. "But we are men, free and spirited men, and we will not allow even the Dominion of Canada to trample on our rights."
 
Louis Riel is an exemplar of organized action against injustice, essential in the founding of two Canadian provinces, and a touchstone of resistance. He was a brilliant political strategist, exceedingly educated in law and the liberal arts, and fluent in French, English, Cree, and Latin. He was a reluctant warrior, a poet, a prophet. "My people will sleep for one hundred years," he said. "And it will be the artists who will help them awake."
 
Riel is just one among many historic figures slandered and misrepresented by historians and commentators defending the interests of the powerful and privileged in Canada. Idle No More is an opportune time for all of us to work to restore the memory of all those who resisted colonialism and struggled for rights and sovereignty. 
 
So, of course, installing Louis Riel Day as a national holiday is only one small, ceremonious step towards recognizing the role Aboriginal peoples play in Canada; but it is a step worth taking.



Ayons la paix de l’âme. Et l’Infini nous ouvre
Des aperçus nouveaux, gais à chaque moment.
—Palpite! ô mon esprit! (How my body trembles)


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email response Feb. 19/13

Chris, did you know that the courts have declared the Metis and non-status Indians
eligible for all the rights as status Indians?  BUT the Government  is APPEALING this ruling.
Nothing has changed in this landscape of convenient racism and greed.
Louis Riel is a true Canadian hero,  Idle No More will call forth more.
I believe we will see a transformation in spite of Government machinations.
Katherine.

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 Saturday, 14 January 2012


Canada's Genocide Trophy - Morley Ellis



A lock of hair and his hanging mask on a wall
upstairs in Casa Loma's museum
of The Queen's Own rifles:
the end of suppressed visionary Louis Riel

Who with pride tried so hard
to give his people a rightful place in Canada:
the Metis: part French, part Native Canadian
who only wanted to own farm land -
contribute to our new society

Riel went so far as to represent his people
in Parliament - stating their case
but They would have no part of it

The Crown decided to get rid of Riel
at all cost - military force!
for Metis were not worthy of even
a Native reserve

A century later in Belleville
Native children tell of teachers
spitting on them
by those deemed fit by the Crown
to teach RACISM and BIGOTRY

So raise a glass to our beloved great victories,
Canada
and lead on, great lawyers of Parliament:
a toast to the Genocide Trophy!


Morley Ellis
Marmora, Ontario
Jan. 13, 2012


bio note:
Morley is a popular singer/guitarist who has performed all over the Quinte area. He is also the resident musician for annual Purdy Country Literary Festivals held around his village of Marmora, Ontario. 

As a young man Morley served with The Queen's Own Rifles, and one summer he worked as a guard at Casa Loma, dressed in a period drill uniform. The horrific image of Louis Riel's death mask, and the racism with which it stigmatized a Canadian patriot,  haunted Morley for over 30 years. He wrote this powerful poem to exorcise his painful personal memories and our own Canadian legacy of bigotry.



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email responses to poem:

thanks, Gail
I knew Morley was onto something crucial - he's been talking about the Louis Riel death mask since I met him 22 years ago. Morley was a young guard at Casa Loma many decades ago - & even then the nasty 'trophy' didn't sit right with him, even in those youthful & naive days.

No, I don't have a personal Facebook account, altho I believe there is one in my name online (vaguely remember giving permission to the head of the Can. Poetry Association to do this, for some forgotten reason, several years ago).

Blogging is great. As Morley observed after I posted his new poem, 'Your blog is like an online magazine.' Exactly ... blogging gives each of us the opportunity to share worldwide ... my blog has many daily hits all over the planet - including the former USSR, China, India - many places where freedom of speech is just a dream - but the internet & our blogs let us interact - worldwide - what an incredible concept - good old Canuck Marshall McLuhan predicted the Global Village about 50 years ago, & now we're living in it ...

It took about 15 minutes for me to set up my blog late last Feb. - & I'm not much of a techy, to say the least  :  )

peace & poetry power!
Chris & Chase ... wrrrrroooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooof!


    
On 2012-01-14, at 6:44 PM, Gail wrote:

Hi Chris,
It is awesome!  You were right; I love it.
Do you have a Facebook account?  I have been putting my I am sorry on Facebook, but I feel like there should be a better way...for all of us to get our message out.  Should I do a blog?
Gail

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Thank you so much Chris!     There is some hope that all over the world and even in Conservative Canada,
we are recognizing blatant unfairness and discrimination.     Maybe it is a frail but beautiful start to a better way.
Katherine.

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