Flag at City Hall

The Metis Nation of Ontario celebrates an annual event to recognize Metis leader, Louis Riel on November 16th. As part of Canada’s 150+ celebrations, the Niagara Region Metis Council has invited all 12 municipalities from across Niagara to participate with a special gifting ceremony. The Niagara Region Metis Council is gifting a Metis Nation flag to each municipality and to the Region of Niagara in the hopes the Niagara community will show its support to Canada’s indigenous people; specifically, the Metis Nation. Canada’s constitution recognizes three distinct indigenous populations, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit. Each are separate and distinct cultures that have ties to this land for more than 12,000 years.

The Metis, are the result the unions between early fur trappers and explorers with native women before Canada was a country. The Metis are not just of mixed blood (half-breeds). Over multiple generations, the Metis people formed their own language, culture, traditions, communities and government that set them apart from their Native and European ancestors. While the Metis share a common ancestry with First Nations and Inuit, they are a separate nation.

Louis Riel has been a controversial figure in Canada’s history. In the past he was often portrayed as a traitor to Canada. In fact, on November 16, 1885 he was hanged by the Canadian Government for treason. Yet, it was Louis Riel who negotiated the land west of Ontario to join Canada rather than join the United States. He was a member of Canada’s Parliament. And while he never had the opportunity to sit during parliament, he did sign his name to the official registry that was a requirement of being recognized as an Member of Parliament. According to Derrick Pont, President of Niagara Region Metis Council, “In addition to being a statesman, Riel was an early activist for human rights, in particular the rights of indigenous people. It is for his devotion to his people and his stand to protect the rights of those who lived on this land prior to colonization, that the Metis people celebrate his legacy.”

Today, historians are taking a fresh look at Louis Riel and recognize him as an important and positive figure in Canada’s history and in Canada’s expansion in the West.

In previous years, the Niagara Region Metis Council reached out to some communities across Niagara to fly the Metis Flag during the week of November 16th. This year, as part of Canada’s milestone anniversary and part of our journey towards reconciliation, the Niagara Region Metis Council is inviting all municipalities to participate in this annual celebration