Louis Riel was executed on this day in 1885 and several events have been taking place across the province to honour his legacy.

November 16th has come to be known as Louis Riel Day.

Sask. Polytech schools across the province raised a Métis flag at all of their main four campuses to celebrate the historic day.

“We want our Indigenous students to feel like they belong on our campus and are valued members of our community,” said Anita Cameron, Indigenous Student Centre Coordinator for the post-secondary institution. “Raising the Métis flag is just one of the ways Sask. Polytech celebrates our Indigenous communities and supports the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.”

According to Cameron 19 % of Sask. Polytech’s student body is Indigenous. She says several other events are planned across the school’s campuses to commemorate Louis Riel Day.

Several RCMP detachments across the province also marked the day by raising a Metis flag.  The flag was raised at the RCMP headquarters in Regina along with the detachments in both Saskatoon and Prince Albert.

“On behalf of the Saskatchewan RCMP, I would like to reaffirm our commitment to the recognition of the rights and culture of the Métis, and to the continuation of our relationship – a friendship based on respect and cooperation. Since 2017, we have been raising the Métis Nation flag at the Saskatchewan RCMP Headquarters on Louis Riel Day. By doing so, we officially recognize the contributions Louis Riel made to our province and country, and renew our longstanding relationship with the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan,” said Saskatchewan RCMP Commanding Officer Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore in a media release.

(Photo provided by the RCMP).

The Gabriel Dumont Institute also hosted a conversation on Louis Riel with famed Métis author Maria Campbell and Métis university professor Marilyn Poitras. The conversation can be found here.

Campbell and Poitras spoke on many things, but one thing Campbell pointed out was how young Louis Riel was when he died.

“Most people don’t realize that he was only 41-years-old when he died,” said Campbell. “Most people think of him as an old man, but he was really quite young.”

Campbell also pointed to Riel’s roots in northern Saskatchewan as important to his legacy.

“He was a Dene Métis… his grandmother was a Dene woman… and his father was born in Ile a la Crosse,” said Campbell during the conversation. “Those are really important because it gives him a place… we only think of him from Red River, but his roots were here before Red River.”

The federal government also put out a joint statement on Tuesday to commemorate Louis Riel. The statement was made by Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs; and Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services.

“Louis Riel is remembered for his efforts to defend Métis rights, culture and identity. He led several movements, fought for the rights of Métis, and he continues to inspire so many,” read the joint statement. “As we acknowledge the leadership of Louis Riel, we also remember that this is a dark day in Canada’s history. Despite numerous appeals for clemency and his trial jury recommending mercy, he was executed for treason. On this day, we are reminded of this and other historic injustices, and the work we still need to do together to end systemic racism in Canada as we continue to walk on the path of reconciliation.”

Elsewhere around the province, several events are taking place including a supper in La Ronge at the Kikinahk Friendship Center at 5:30.

In Saskatoon, the Métis-Nation Saskatchewan hosted a lunch at Gabriel Dumont Park, along with an online celebration.

(With files from Michael Joel-Hansen)