SOURCE: Métis Nation of Ontario

Métis Nation of Ontario

November 16, 2015 15:59 ET

The Metis Nation of Ontario Celebrates Louis Riel Day

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - November 16, 2015) - Louis Riel was the great Métis leader executed by the Canadian government for leading the Northwest Resistance in defense of Métis rights and the Métis way-of-life. Every year Louis Riel Day is held to remember what Riel sacrificed, and renew the commitment to complete his work. The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) celebrates Louis Riel Day to recognize the many contributions of the Métis to Canada and to highlight the continuing challenges that Métis continue to face. "We celebrate this day to recognize our ongoing struggle to fulfill Louis Riel's dream that the Métis take their rightful place within Confederation," explained MNO President Gary Lipinski.

Métis communities across Ontario hold Louis Riel Day events and a provincial ceremony took place in Toronto at the Northwest Rebellion monument on the grounds of the provincial Legislature. Among the dignitaries present was the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario. She commented that: "although it [Louis Riel Day] commemorates a terrible tragedy of Riel's death it is also a celebration of the continuing vibrancy of the Métis people."

The provincial government was represented at the Toronto ceremony by the Honourable David Zimmer, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Minister Zimmer stated: "Today we acknowledge Louis Riel's contributions to building Canada and recognize and respect the history, culture and identity of Métis people. It is also an important opportunity to build on the process of reconciliation between Canada and the Métis Nation, and to celebrate the achievements of Métis people."

Also in attendance was the Honourable Dave Levac, Speaker of the Ontario Legislature. Speaker Levac, who is Métis, declared: "I am Métis and proud of it," and credited Riel for initiating the first human rights code in North America. "He wanted to protect the rights of everyone -- he had a vision for all people."

The presence of Minister Zimmer and Speaker Levac at the Queen's Park Louis Riel Day event demonstrates the positive relationship the MNO has built with Ontario through the MNO-Ontario Framework Agreement, which was renewed in 2014. "The Framework Agreement has proven to be the catalyst for progress in many areas of mutual interest. It signaled a new way of doing business with the Métis and that the process of reconciliation has started," said President Lipinski.

President Lipinski was also joined Norm Miller, the PC Aboriginal Affairs Critic, and France Gélinas, the NDP Aboriginal Affairs Critic. Other speakers at the event included MNO Chair France Picotte, MNO Vice-chair Sharon McBride, Jean Teillet, a Métis lawyer and great niece of Louis Riel, Senators Verna Brunelle-Porter and Reta Gordon and Joanna Burt, who represented Métis youth. In addition, the Honourable Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines; the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services; the Honourable Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry; and MPPs Arthur Potts and Grandville Anderson also attended the ceremony.

More information on Louis Riel Day is available on the MNO website at: http://www.metisnation.org/news--media/news/2015-louis-riel-day-events

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