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Bruce, Caroline

Louis Riel: Hero or Villain?

This is the latest commentary I wrote for my One Guy's Thoughts commentaries. While I don't for a second feel this spiel will win me a popularity contest, I'm saying what I feel needs to be said, something few others would have the guts to say:

Tomorrow, February 18, is Louis Riel Day here in Manitoba. It's a holiday whose name, we are told, was picked by Manitoba schoolchildren. I can't be sure, but I rather suspect that, if schoolchildren did in fact pick the name, they were heavily coached to do so.

Louis Riel was a man who was hung for treason. He was Métis, meaning he was of French and Native North American descent. He is hailed by many as being the father of Manitoba, a hero who was horribly mistreated by the government of the day. It is not the scope of this diatribe to go into the life of M. Riel, but there are many sources on the Net for that info.

So is he a hero or a murdering traitor? Depends who you ask, because it's very much a contentious issue, though most people daring to question his hero status will, of course, not speak up, because daring to so much as question the holiness and rightness of any Native of Métis cause these days immediately brands you as a bigoted racist. Also, and here I speak as someone who proofreads textbooks for a living, today's Social Studies (or as I call them Social Engineering) classes are extremely intent on portraying M. Riel as a hero, the father of Manitoba, and a helpless victim of an evil race, i.e. the race to which I belong. To vilify whites is, of course, never racist under any circumstances, says today's modern society, we're all guilty, whether we had a thing to do with it or not.

Did M. Riel get the short end of the stick? Was he treated wrongly? Probably, to some extent. To what extent, I could not say, since I doubt a truly unbiased account of the situation (either way) exists, and I wasn't there. Are we simply moving from one extreme to another my giving him a status closing in on sainthood? I rather expect so. I expect that, as is so often the case, the truth lies somewhere within the two extremes. Do I apologize humbly for the way M. Riel was treated? Absolutely not: while I do belong to the "race of pure evil", neither I nor my ancestors weren't even on the continent. We didn't do it, I didn't do it; I didn't condone it, sanction it, support it, encourage it, permit it, or wish for it. I have enough trouble keeping up with those things for which I do owe people an apology. I will not pass up the holiday we get tomorrow, but neither will I pass judgment one way or another on M. Riel. That task is up to Someone who was there, Someone who can offer an unbiased decision, someone not swayed by the government of the day, the will of the mobs, the mythmakers, nor the textbook writers.

Well, anyway, those are one guy's thoughts.
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