Louis Riel Day? A Brief History.

I support statutory holidays, even if I don’t know anything about them. Ontario has Family Day, some weird put together holiday just to get another stat holiday for the year. Now here in Manitoba, it’s Louis Riel Day. I’ve heard of this man here and there in the classroom, but don’t know much, to be honest. In fact, I’ve heard from a lot of Manitoban’s that they don’t even know that much about him. I decided to brush up on my history today and learn all about the man who gives us a well appreciated statutory holiday.

THE MAN: Louis David Riel, born October 22, 1844, near modern day Winnipeg. He was from a prominent Metis family, and was interested in the priesthood during his younger years, and attended a seminary in Montreal before his father’s death in 1864. After that, he was less interested and became a little rebellious and was asked to leave the seminary. He returned to the Red River Settlement in 1868. Riel was described as a fine scholar and gifted student, but a little odd and moody.

THE ACT: Things were getting messy here in Manitoba, or what would be known as Manitoba eventually. There were “eastern” interests and the influx of Anglo’s in the area increased tensions and anxieties among the First Nations and Metis people. Needless to say, stuff happened to create lots of unrest and Riel wasn’t putting up with it. Riel and others seized Fort Garry. They created a provisional government, and were so not letting Canada take authority over them and the land without any discussions.

Many people, even Anglo’s, were in support of Riel and what he and others were doing. However, the “pro-Canadians” were plotting against the provisional government during this time and in the end, one of them, Thomas Scott, was executed by firing squad. Lovely.

Then, the provisional government made their way to Ottawa in March of 1870. These talks between the provisional government and MacDonald led to the Manitoba Act, which created the province of Manitoba as a part of Canada.

THE AFTERMATH: There was a bounty on Riel’s head. Awesome, right? So, he had to flee. This was the effective end to the Rebellion. Riel fled to the States. But just because he was there, didn’t mean that his popularity disappeared. Even though he wasn’t even in Canada during election time for the Manitoba seat in Parliament, Riel was elected. Of course, that didn’t exactly work out and he was kicked out when he showed up in Ottawa.

The following years were interesting for Riel, with visions from God, and questionable actions like tearing his clothes off all the time. His mental state was certainly questioned at the time.

THE RETURN: Riel, with the request from others, mobilized another rebellion-type action in Saskatchewan (or, what was the North West Territories). He tried the peaceful way, but of course that didn’t work out. Things got violent and the government certainly wasn’t pleased. More troops were sent this way, and in the end, Riel surrendered.

We all know what happened after that. Things were looking down, and Riel was hanged for treason on November 16, 1885.

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It’s so incredibly interesting that Manitoba chooses to celebrate Louis Riel. Certainly during his life, he was despised by the majority of Anglo-Canadians and was considered insane by most, and some to this day think he was a nutjob. And of course, he was executed in the end for his actions, yet remains to be the prominent founder of Manitoba. Oh Manitoba, how you intrigue me. In the end, I will gladly take a day off in Riel’s honour. And I mean, how cool is it to be a part of a province where the prominent founder was as hardcore and awesome as Riel?

My First Manitoban Birthday

To say the least, I was partly dreading my 25th birthday (there, I said it. 25th). However, as my loving Ontario friends reminded me, I always dread my birthday. It has something to do with being the first one out of my friends to reach a certain age and making life more dramatic by being dramatic about it. This birthday was no different, although this one is certainly more of a milestone. Maybe the drama was appropriate? Anyway, the other reason I was dreading it was because I couldn’t spend it as I normally do. Two or three parties with my different groups of friends, epic planning and epic decorations filling my apartment, and of course, the epic THAI dinner, which I couldn’t have here in Brandon, because Thai food doesn’t exist here unless you cook it yourself. (Side note: Can we petition for a Thai restaurant here in Brandon?)

To say the least, I was planning on spending my birthday alone, or at the most with one or two people. I know, SAD. In the end though, that’s not what happened!

Things started off with an amazing dinner at the one and only Chilli Chutney. If I can’t have Thai for my birthday dinner, then Indian will always be my second choice. I went with three of my friends and it was great! By the end of the meal, we had decided to go to one of the nicer places in town, Echo, for dessert. It was convenient to me because one of my friends works there and we had wanted to go visit her on her break anyway. Little did I know that “convenience” to me was actually a plan all along…

We got to Echo and the few of us were seated at a very big table! I was thinking, hey, we don’t need this, we can sit at a smaller table. But we sat down anyway, and then…all my friends started rolling in! I couldn’t believe it! A surprise birthday celebration just for me? Being surrounded by friends was great!

So in the end, my birthday wasn’t as sad or lonely as I thought it would be. I still missed my usual celebrations with my Ontario friends, but came to understand the friendship and love I have here in this province. Thank you friends for surprising me and making my 25th a great birthday.

I Heart Manitoba

Sometimes while writing this blog, it seems as though I talk about some of the negative things or weird things about Manitoba. I try to express that I’m not trying to take a stab at Manitoba, but it may not come off that way. Isn’t it funny how it’s always easier to critique rather than share the love? Well, I’ve realized that, so this post is dedicated to the things I love about Manitoba!

1. I love my friends from Manitoba. I know, total cop-out for this one to be first, but it’s true! I have made some of the best friendships right here in the friendly province. I don’t know what I’d do without some of these people in my life. They ground me, on many different levels, but I can just as easily let my hair down with them! You all know who you are 😉

2. I love the sky. The sky that goes for miles and miles. This morning as I was walking to my car, I just looked in awe at the sky which had streaks of pink, blue and orange in it. Going for miles and miles. Because of the landscape (nature and urban) in Ontario, you simply don’t get to see the sky in this way, and it’s such a bonus to living in the Prairie’s!

3. I love the genuine friendliness. I recently started a new job, and with what it is, I was expecting people to hate their jobs and hate each other. Nope, I was wrong. Everyone is too nice and friendly. Too supportive. Too helpful. It’s mind-boggling to me, but I love it! I think Manitoba has certainly earned the title of “friendly”.

4. I love the intentionally tree-lined streets. I first found this when I came to Manitoba for the first time about 7 years ago to Boissevain. What beautiful streets! The trees were canopies over the streets and were just perfectly lined up. It’s the same way in a lot of towns here, as well as many streets in Brandon. It’s just gorgeous. I wish this existed more in Ontario!

5. I love how much money I save living here. Yup, you heard it. I love it. Insurance is the huge thing. Coming from Ontario to here – wow. It’d be such a huge shock to move back and have those huge expenses again! And let’s not forget to mention hydro and gas prices lightning the load of bills!

6. I love (or do I?) how all the Sheri/Sherry/Sherrie’s are coming out of the woodwork. Completely and utterly random. I don’t have a common first name…unless you live in Manitoba/the Brandon area. It’s crazy! In the last 3 weeks, I’ve come across at least 5 different Sheri’s (a.k.a Sherry/Sherrie) on some level. This is something I have never experienced, and obviously something that Manitoba has brought into my already insane life. Woo!

Some true and sweet, and some kooky. But that’s a good thing! In time, I’m sure there will be many more things I “heart” about Manitoba. I’ll keep you posted 😉