National or public holidays are set aside to commemorate, celebrate, and recall some of our nation’s greatest sacrifices and historical moments. Canada has a collection of historical tales that hold great significance to its name in today’s time. A Canada holiday holding value close to its province is Manitoba, which celebrates and honours the sacrifices made by Louis Riel day 2023 for the Métis population. 

This article entails the history of Louis Riel, his significance and impact on Canada, and the Louis Riel Day 2023 celebrations. 

What is Louis Riel Day 2023?

Métis leader Louis Riel led his people with a zeal to fight for their rights. He played a pivotal role in the developments that led to Manitoba’s admission as Canada’s fifth province to the confederation in 1870. Louis Riel’s vision was a civilised society that respects all cultures, and all Manitobans, till today commemorate Louis Riel Day by honouring his vision.

Every third Monday in February is celebrated as Louis Riel Day in Manitoba and is considered a public Canada holiday. However, each year on November 16, the Métis Nation of Ontario celebrates Louis Riel Day in Ontario. Louis Riel Day commemorates the day that Riel was executed in 1885. This day presents the occasion to discover everything concerning the life and significance of Métis leader Louis Riel.

How is Public Life on Louis Riel Day?

In Manitoba, the third Monday in February is a public holiday celebrated as Louis Riel Day. Several folks are off from work and school on this day, and major establishments, including businesses and organisations, are closed. Shops may stay open past noon in some localities. Public transit may operate on Sundays or according to regular or shortened schedules. However, services might not operate in rural areas.

Other Canadian provinces and territories do not commemorate Louis Riel Day on the third Monday in February since those days are not recognised as holidays. Public transportation systems operate according to their regular schedules, and schools, businesses, organisations, post offices, and retailers operate as customary.

The History of Louis Riel Day 2023 – Manitoba

The History of Louis Riel Day - Manitoba

Louis Riel was a prominent figure among the Métis population, who established the province of Manitoba. Métis are indigenous people with unique backgrounds, cultures, and languages. The region, which served as their original home, is now part of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and a northwest portion of the United States. Louis Riel felt connected with this community as his grandmother belonged to the same lineage. 

To protect the liberties and identity of the Métis and defend the Red River region, which was the Métis community’s home, he staged two significant uprisings against white colonists, the Canadian government, and John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister.

The Red River Resistance (1869–1870) was the first insurgency Riel spearheaded. To preserve the political, social, and cultural legacy of the Métis, he established the Métis National Committee in the late 19th century. This organisation was responsible for the renowned Red River Resistance. Riel put together a militia as the Canadian government intended to annex the Métis’ ancestral home. To represent the Métis, he passed the Manitoba Act, which called for establishing a new province. Riel’s interim administration finally negotiated the conditions of Manitoba’s admission to the Canadian Confederation. 

In 1870, the Manitoba Act was enacted, officially acknowledging the new province. But Riel was ousted from Parliament and imprisoned for treachery against the state. However, this did not deter Riel from supporting the North-West Rebellion of 1885. In addition to founding Manitoba, Louis Riel was a politician. He was, however, a divisive figure in his own lifetime and endured several years in exile in the United States. After a contentious trial, he was killed for treason in 1885 after participating in a slew of uprisings.

The government of Manitoba instituted a public holiday on February 2007. This was due to the extended time without a holiday between New Year’s and Good Friday. Schoolchildren competed to come up with the best name for the day. Louis Riel Day was the winning name to honour this Manitoban statesman. There is no particular significance to the date in relation to a specific occurrence in Louis Riel’s life. In Manitoba, Louis Riel Day debuted in 2008.

The goal of Louis Riel Day is to honour the history of the people of Manitoba. The third Monday in February is observed as Family Day in various provinces. This holiday was authorised by the Manitoba Legislative Assembly in 2007 and was first celebrated on February 18, 2007.

Louis Riel Day Celebration in Manitoba – 2023

Louis Riel Day Celebration in Manitoba - 2023

On Louis Riel Day, Manitobans have the chance to spend quality time with their loved one, plan a short winter vacation, or participate in outdoor sporting events. It provides a platform to study the history, culture, language, and ancestral home of the Métis people.

The day bears the name of Manitoba’s founding father. It honours Canadian statesman Louis Riel’s noteworthy life and achievements. Numerous streets, structures, institutions, public libraries, and homes in Manitoba bear his name as a mark of respect.

The Canada holidays have different connotations in different Canadian provinces. The third Monday in February is celebrated as Islander Day on Prince Edward Island; in Nova Scotia, it is Nova Scotia Heritage Day. However, this holiday is celebrated as Family Day in Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

The following are the dates for Louis Riel Holidays for the coming years (2023-2026) –

Louis Riel Dates (2023 – 2026)
Year Date
2023 February 20
2024 February 19
2025 February 17
2026 February 16

Noteworthy Facts About Louis Riel

Listed below are incredible facts about the Father of Manitoba – Louis Riel. 

    • Louis Riel is known as the “Father of Manitoba” because he oversaw the Métis National Committee’s consolidation into a temporary government that resulted in the creation of Manitoba.
    • According to public polls, Riel is ranked as the 11th Greatest Canadian by C.B.C.’s “The Greatest Canadian” survey.
    • Around the beginning of the new millennium, Canadian comic book artist Chester Brown, awarded the first Canada Council for the Arts funding for a sequential-art production, documented Louis Riel’s life until his execution for treachery.
    • The official statue of Louis Riel that is currently on display on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg features him dressed historically in moccasins and is genuinely a restoration of the statue from the 1970s that sparked controversy for its unbalanced figure and nudity.
    • For his authoritative lead in the 1885 North-West Rebellion, wherein he rallied the French-speaking Métis against the reigning Canadian government, Riel was put on trial.
    • Understandably, Riel supported the rights of the Métis since his grandmother was a pure Franco-Chipewyan Métisse, and he was an eighth-generation native Canadian.
    • Although having negotiated the creation of Manitoba, Riel was frequently portrayed throughout his lifetime and into the 20th century as a cunning mischief-maker.
    • Louis Riel was elected thrice to the parliament; however, he was expelled each time for delaying approval.

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Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Why should one remember Louis Riel?

Although Louis Riel is known as a champion of justice for the Métis people, he advocates for much more. He is credited with founding Manitoba and establishing minority rights and cross-cultural cooperation. It is crucial to keep in mind Louis Riel's sacrifices for Canada, in particular the fact that he was put to death for persistently fighting for the rights of his folks.

Why do we celebrate Louis Riel Day?

Louis Riel Day is celebrated to remember the sacrifices made by the founder of Manitoba, Louis Riel, for his people. He fought for the rights of the Métis folks and established Manitoba as a Canadian province.

Is Louis Riel Day a Public Holiday?

Louis Riel Day is a public holiday solely and exclusively celebrated in Manitoba and not any other Canadian province.

What impact did Louis Riel have on Canada?

Riel established a provisional administration in 1869–1870 and provided Canada with a Bill of Rights, which on May 12 was transformed into the Manitoba Act 1870. The act was passed on June 24 by Riel's interim administration, and it became operative on July 15.

What did Louis Riel do to help Manitoba?

Métis leader Louis Riel led his people with fervour. He was instrumental in Manitoba's accession to the confederation as Canada's fifth province. Manitobans continue to share Louis Riel's vision of a province that welcomes all cultures.