Every year on November 16th, the anniversary of Louis Riel, Métis people from across the homeland gather to remember the man, his cause, and his legacy.
The trial of Riel, for the charge of high treason, began on July 28th, 1885, in Regina, Saskatchewan. Although the defendant was Métis, Catholic, and French, the six-man jury was White, Protestant, and English. Witnesses for the defence were denied immunity; translators had to be used for most of the testimony; and, Riel was not allowed to formally contest his lawyer’s insanity defence.
On August 1, 1885, it was no surprise that the jury returned a guilty verdict. Even though they recommended mercy, the judge sentenced Riel to death by hanging.
Despite the outcry from a number of sources, on November 16, 1885, the Macdonald government hung Louis Riel outside the RCMP barracks in Regina.
Louis Riel Day is celebrated in towns and cities throughout the country, and is marked by demonstrations, protests, vigils and feasts.
In Saskatoon, Métis businesses are closed and their staff partake in remembrance ceremonies usually held at Friendship Park, followed by a feast.