As the sun rose above Victoria, so did a flag outside the B.C. legislature, honouring Louis Riel Day.
Nov. 16 celebrates the contributions of both Louis Riel, a historical Métis leader who died on this day in 1885, and the Métis people.
READ MORE: Métis flag raised at B.C. legislature
“As a proud member of the Métis community, I was honoured to watch the flag rise in front of the people’s house,” said Carole James, Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance. “By proclaiming Nov. 16 as Louis Riel Day, we celebrate the importance of Louis Riel’s personal sacrifice and Métis culture. We are committed to working together to make life better for Métis people throughout British Columbia.”
Métis became a distinct nation in the late 1700s as a fusion of First Nations and European cultures. Riel himself championed Métis rights and culture, ultimately dying for the cause when he was executed by the Canadian government after a rebellion on the prairies. A 2016 census shows nearly 90,000 people living in B.C. identify as Métis. Since then, a press release said, that number has increased by nearly 30,000.
The president of Métis Nation BC (MNBC), Clara Morin-Dal Col, MNBC board members and Métis people gathered at the ceremony. Morin-Dal Col said, “As a celebration of our shared history, Louis Riel Day is an important day for all Métis people in B.C. Proclaiming this day and marking it with a flag raising in front of the legislature recognizes our distinct culture, heritage and history of Métis people throughout British Columbia.”