- Our Town
Metis commemorate Louis Riel Day in Williams Lake
To commemorate “Louis Riel Day,” the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples unfurled the Métis Flag at the Ottawa Police Headquarters on Nov, 16.
In Williams Lake, the flag went up outside of city hall Thursday and on Friday local Metis will gathered outside of city hall at noon to mark the day.
Cariboo Chilcotin Metis Association elder Arnold Lucier said it's a really big day in Manitoba that's starting to be recognized more and more across the country.
"We have a pretty big base here. Our picnic at Felker Lake the second weekend in August is getting bigger each year. Last year we had people coming from Valemount, Terrace, and other areas."
It is always a full day picnic with horseshoes, bocci ball, and there's crib tournament going on for a full day. And of course Bingo," he added.
The association's chief executive officer Marlene Swears said there are 737 registered members in the region.
"We cover from 100 Mile House to Alexandria and Bella Coola," she said.
Tonight the association is having a big potluck and celebration at the Wildwood School gym. Lucier said the doors are going to be open about 4 p.m. on.
"It will be family event. There'll be singers and guitar players and around 7 p.m. Santa's going to show up. Hampers will be distributed to families in need, along with gifts for children in care."
They have bought three extra turkeys they will be roasting, and there will be buckets of deep friend bannock and the rest will be potluck.
National Chief Betty Ann Lavallée issued the following statement to commemorate the anniversary of Louis Riel execution on Nov. 16, 1885.
“Each year, on Louis Riel Day we pay tribute to a man who fought to preserve Métis rights and culture, and paid the ultimate price. As an Aboriginal person, I believe that history has shown that Louis Riel was in fact a hero, and was unjustly tried and convicted of a crime he did not commit.”
“I believe that Louis Riel was a freedom fighter who stood up for his people in the face of bigotry and racism. I also want to note that not only is Riel an important figure to Métis and Aboriginal people, he is becoming increasingly more important to non-Aboriginal people as well. This, I believe is because as historians look back, a different story of Riel emerge; as a man of courage, of conviction and a man seeking justice for his people.”
“It is for this reason that there have been several attempts which have gone before Parliament to have the conviction of Louis Riel overturned. Although these attempts have not been successful to date, I firmly believe that in the near future, this grave injustice will be corrected.”
“As an Aboriginal person, I encourage Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across the country to take a moment out of their day, and pay tribute to the sacrifice that Louis Riel made in the name of justice. It is a day to remember our history, to learn from our past, to ensure that this type of injustice never happens to anyone again in the future.”
More and more cities are flying the Metis flag, Lucier said.
Local Metis association president Laura Lee Marshall said it's the first time the Metis flag has been erected outside of city hall and that the group was very grateful the city gave the go-ahead.