Friends of Louis Riel, Regina, Sk. 2017 Photos: Roget Legasse (Roger Lagasse, Maureen Mason, David Doyle, George & Terry Goulet, Paulette and Denis Duguay)
Recognizing the traditional territory of the Cree and Saulteau nations, Treaty 4 territory, a contingent of friends of Louis Riel from the Upper and Lower Sunshine Coast attended the 50th-anniversary commemoration of John Coulter’s play “The Trial of Louis Riel” in Regina Sk. on Saturday, October 14-15, 2017.
Although still legally a convicted “traitor” in Canadian law, Louis Riel was honoured and feted in Regina, the city where his trial took place and where he was hanged for the crime of high treason on November 16, 1885. The “Louis Riel in Canada’s History” Symposium attested to the changing perception of Louis Riel from “traitor” and “rebel” to an honorable politician and Indigenous leader. The gala dinner was attended by the Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan, Vaughn Solomon Schofield, the Honorable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, as well as two Great Grandnieces of Louis Riel, Mme Paulette Duguay, Présidente of the Union nationale métisse de Saint-Joseph du Manitoba, and distinguished Métis lawyer, Mme Jean Teillet, as well as members of the cast and crew over the past 50 years. Proceeded by Métis fiddle music and a blessing by the Métis, Most Rev. Albert Thévenot, Bishop of Prince Albert, the evening was an historic occasion.
The Lieutenant Governor and Minister Goodale both spoke eloquently in terms of Canada’s sesquicentennial and reconciliation, paying tribute to Louis Riel and his many contributions to Canada, the Métis nation, and Western Canada.
The commemorative production of the play “The Trial of Louis Riel” featuring Toronto-based actor John D. Huston, who is Métis, was both thrilling and tragic, with tears in the eyes of many in the audience. Playing the hero of his people, Huston said of Riel, “this is a man who brought a new province into the country, who — long before it was fashionable — went to bat for English and French working together, believed that whites and non-whites could co-exist peacefully, could actually build a country together.”
The 50th anniversary of the production “The Trial of Louis Riel” was a fitting tribute to Louis Riel, playwright John Coulter and Peter Champagne of Rielco Productions, who has kept the longest continuously running production on the continent running for over ten years. It was also an opportunity for the friends of Louis Riel to gather and discuss the importance of exoneration for Louis Riel, Canada’s Indigenous (Métis) Father of Confederation.
INNOCENTONS (EXONERATE) LOUIS RIEL”
George & Terry Goulet with former ‘Riels,’ Mme Jean Teillet, Hon. Ralph Goodale & Bishop Thévenot at the commemorative dinner for the play “The Trial of Louis Riel.”