February 2017

Louis Riel Day – February 20th

February 15, 2017 • Written by

Since this Monday is Louis Riel Day, we’d like to take a moment to encapsulate some of the important resources available to our patrons regarding one of Manitoba’s most controversial historical figures.

Who was Louis Riel?

Louis Riel, a leader of his people in their resistance against the Canadian government in the Canadian Northwest, is perhaps the most controversial figure in Canadian historiography. His life and deeds have spawned a massive and diverse literature.

He was born in the Red River Settlement (in what is now Manitoba) in 1844. A promising student, he was sent to Montreal to train for the priesthood, but he never graduated. An attempt at training as a lawyer ended similarly, and by 1868 Riel was back in the Red River area. Ambitious, well educated and bilingual, Riel quickly emerged as a leader among the Métis of the Red River.

Read More: http://library.usask.ca/northwest/background/riel.htm

Why Commemorate Louis Riel?

Louis Riel is recognized as an advocate of justice for the Métis people, but he represents much more. He helped lay the framework for minority rights and cultural co-operation, and is regarded as a founder of Manitoba. It is very important to remember Louis Riel’s contribution to Canada and specifically to recall that he was executed for being a persistent advocate for the rights of his people. (Reference: http://louisrielday.com/)

In 2008, Manitoba schools were invited to name our province’s newest holiday and 114 responded with suggestions that reflected Manitoba’s citizenship, history, culture, arts, sports and significant individuals from our past. Eleven schools submitted the winning entry and received $1,000 grants to purchase materials for their school library. (Reference: http://louisrielday.com/louis-riel-day-origins/)

Louis Riel Books and Videos

The Red River College Library has dozens of “Louis Riel” related items in our collection. Here is a sample:

Riel’s Defence : Perspectives on His Speeches (eBook)
In 1885, Louis Riel was charged with high treason, found guilty, and consequently executed for his role in Saskatchewan’s North-West Rebellion. During his trial, the Métis leader gave two speeches, passionately defending the interests of the Métis in western Canada as well as his own life. Riel’s Defence studies these speeches, demonstrating the range of Riel’s political and personal concerns. Link: EBSCOhost eBook

Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont
Louis Riel, a controversial Metis mystic and visionary, fought for his people’s rights against an encroaching tide of white settlers. Hunter and Metis leader Gabriel Dumont, a man tested by warfare, was, in contrast, a pragmatic realist of the land. Celebrated novelist Joseph Boyden explores the tumultuous year when Riel and Dumont united the Me´tis while dividing a nation. Could Dumont have forseen the impact on the Me´tis cause when he brought Riel home? While making rational demands of Sir John A. Macdonald, Riel seemed increasingly overtaken by a messianic mission. His controversial execution by the Canadian government in 1885 still reverberates today. Catalog Record: http://icarus.rrc.mb.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=112056

Louis Riel : firebrand
Louis Riel devoted his life to the Metis cause. A fiery activist, he struggled against injustice as he saw it. He was a pioneer in the field of Aboriginal rights and land claims but was branded an outlaw in his own time. In 1885, he was executed for treason. In 1992, the House of Commons declared Riel a founder of Manitoba. November 16 is now designated Louis Riel Day in Canada. Catalog Record: http://icarus.rrc.mb.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=100518

Louis Riel : a comic-strip biography
Told with dispassionate precision by the legendary cartoonist Chester Brown, this is the story of the charismatic, and perhaps mad, nineteenth century Metis leader, whose struggle to win rights for his people led to violent rebellion on the Canadian frontier. Catalog Record: http://icarus.rrc.mb.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=87977

Louis Riel
Champion of a people or traitorous rabble-rouser? Political visionary or religious lunatic? Louis Riel is one of the most ambiguous figures in Canadian history, a man who stood and fell for the Métis nation. Read about the fascinating western icon in this well-paced biography. The doomed struggle of Louis Riel and his Métis people against the new Canadian government is a story rich in drama and cultural change. Catalog Record: http://icarus.rrc.mb.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=86278

Riel (Video)
1979 Dramatization of the Riel Rebellion of 1885. Under their leader, Louis Riel, the Metis rise up against the government of Sir John A. MacDonald. Stars Raymond Cloutier as Louis Riel. Also includes Roger Blay, Maury Chaykin, Arthur Hill, Leslie Nielsen, Christopher Plummer and William Shatner in supporting roles.Catalog Record: http://icarus.rrc.mb.ca/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=32674

Louis Riel Quotes

“We must cherish our inheritance. We must preserve our nationality for the youth of our future. The story should be written down to pass on.” – Louis Riel

“I am more convinced everyday that without a single exception I did right. And I have always believed that, as I have acted honestly, the time will come when the people of Canada will see and acknowledge it.” – Louis Riel, 1885

“Yes, I have done my duty. During my life I have aimed at practical results. I hope that after my death my spirit will bring practical results. All that I have done and risked… Rested certainly on the conviction that I was called upon to do something for my country I know that through the grace of God I am the founder of Manitoba.” – Louis Riel, May 6, 1885, Batoche, N.W.T.

Reference: http://www.mmf.mb.ca/louis_riel_quotes.php

Louis Riel’s grave-site, located next to the St. Boniface Basilica.

Louis Riel Tour

Are you looking for a long-weekend activity? Here is a wonderful web page that lists the Louis Riel commemorative locations in and around Winnipeg: http://louisrielday.com/louis-riel-tour/

 

 

 

 

 

Viola Desmond: A Story of Courage

February 13, 2017 • Written by

In February 2008, Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate, introduced the Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month. It received unanimous approval and was adopted on March 4, 2008. Since then, February is an official time to celebrate Black Canadians – their experiences, stories, achievements and contributions.

Learn more: Government of Canada – Black History Month

VIOLA DESMOND (1914-1965):
Entrepreneur and Defender of Social Justice

The 2017 Black History Month poster (pictured right) shows Viola Desmond as an example of the courage and strength shown by so many Black Canadians throughout history.

Watch, listen and read about how Viola Desmond and other Black Canadians have taken a stand against racial segregation in Canada.

 


Heritage Minutes: Viola Desmond (Historica Canada video)

The story of Viola Desmond, an entrepreneur who challenged segregation in Nova Scotia in the 1940s. The 82nd Heritage Minute in Historica Canada’s collection. (1 min.)


Living in Hope: Viola Desmond’s Story (CBC Radio broadcast)

A dramatized account of a pivotal moment in Canadian race relations. On November 8, 1946 Viola Desmond refuses to move to the upstairs balcony in the Roseland Theatre, and is forcibly removed from the theatre and thrown in jail. The resulting legal battle was taken all the way to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. (RRC network log in required)


Viola Desmond’s Canada : a history of Blacks and racial segregation in the promised land (Book)

Most Canadians are aware of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a racially segregated bus in Alabama, but Viola Desmond’s act of resistance occurred nine years earlier. However, many Canadians are still unaware of Desmond’s story or that racial segregation existed throughout many parts of Canada during most of the twentieth century. On the subject of race, Canadians seem to exhibit a form of collective amnesia. Viola Desmond’s Canada is a groundbreaking book that provides a concise overview of the narrative of the Black experience in Canada. (Available to borrow from RRC Library)

 


Journey to Justice (NFB video)

Click the image to view the movie on the National Film Board website.

 

“This documentary pays tribute to a group of Canadians who took racism to court. They are Canada’s unsung heroes in the fight for Black civil rights. Focusing on the 1930s to the 1950s, this film documents the struggle of 6 people who refused to accept inequality. Featured here, among others, are Viola Desmond, a woman who insisted on keeping her seat at a Halifax movie theatre in 1946 rather than moving to the section normally reserved for the city’s Black population, and Fred Christie, who took his case to the Supreme Court after being denied service at a Montreal tavern in 1936. These brave pioneers helped secure justice for all Canadians. Their stories deserve to be told.” – NFB website