On the occasion of Manitoba’s Louis Riel Day 2017 I was interviewed on CBC News Network on the exoneration of Louis Riel. In the 130-plus years and generations of Canadians since Riel’s trial and execution his national reputation as a traitor has been disproved and replaced with the call to recognize him as Canada’s Indigenous Father of Confederation, a true Canadian folk hero, a protector of minority rights and culture.
“He was a defender of the fundamental values that Canadians hold dear, including equality and social justice. All Canadians, whether they are Métis or not, can be proud of what Louis Riel accomplished,” Carolyn Bennett, minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, said in November 2016. Although there have been demands made over the years for Riel’s retroactive pardon, Guy Savoie, a Riel relative and elder with the Union National Metisse St. Joseph du Manitoba, said that’s not enough. He wants to see Riel exonerated, which means to be absolved from any wrongdoing. “If you go for a pardon, there’s still an assumption of guilt,” he said. “So exoneration is the only thing that is left. Let him take his place in the history of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Canada.
In solidarity with the Union National Metisse St. Joseph du Manitoba, I and the Friends of Louis Riel continue to put out the call to exonerate Louis Riel for Canada’s Sesquicentennial.