(New Westminster, BC) The BC Métis Federation continues to lead by example and real actions to support Métis culture and address issues relevant to Métis people. The vision of the BC Métis Federation leadership has led to the most powerful undertaking in the history of Métis people in British Columbia. This past year the BC Métis Federation has supported numerous Métis cultural activities across British Columbia with partner communities and agencies. It has also been the commitment to supporting Métis culture that has given rise to the significant support from the Métis communities and families across this province for the BC Métis Federation.
Each year Métis people recognize the importance or Louis Riel Day on November 16th when he was wrongfully hung in Regina in 1885. A variety of activities are often undertaken from Métis community gatherings to raising of Métis flags at city halls across the country. As a provincial organization BC Métis Federation wanted to bring something special this year on Louis Riel Day.
The Trial of Louis Riel play has been in existence for 47 years produced by RielCo Productions Inc. from Regina, Saskatchewan. Despite the fact that there is a significant Métis population in British Columbia, not once has this play ever been to British Columbia. More importantly not once has the Trial of Louis Riel play ever been done on the date Louis Riel was wrongfully executed. Yesterday both of these points were changed and history was made in terms of the play being in British Columbia and performed 128 years later on the date Louis Riel was wrongfully hung.
BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry stated, “Words cannot express how powerful this past weekend became. This idea was considered about 6 months ago when George and Terry Goulet along with myself were reviewing ideas for Louis Riel Day on November 16th, 2013. Initially we considered a presentation and forum on Louis Riel. From here Mr. Peter Champagne’s name came up and the Trial of Louis Riel Day play was viewed with great excitement. Calls were made, budgets considered, eventually leading to the presentation by BC Métis Federation at our Annual General Meeting in Langley, BC on September 28th which launched the event.”
BC Métis Federation President Henry added, “This was a major undertaking, a raffle was created to raise funds, partners were approached and the event planners were identified to support administration and ticket sales. This became the focus for our leadership throughout October and November leading up to the event.”
BC Métis Federation Henry further added, “This past week excitement grew as a team of approximately 25 individuals from RielCo. Productions Inc. travelled by vehicle and plane to arrive in Vancouver and New Westminster. The set began construction, Columbia Theatre staff assisted, and Raven Events made sure all final details were supported. The three shows were flawless and several hundred people in attendance from children and elders were provided a once in a lifetime experience that was educational and provided Métis cultural recognition and celebration. I was truly pleased to see many First Nations attending as well to better understand some of our history and culture.”
BC Métis Federation President Henry continued, “Thank you to so many; George and Terry Goulet for the wisdom and foresight, Raven Events for the coordination and support, David Doyle for the participation and assistance, Beverly Lambert for the presentation to the Aboriginal educators in Langley, BC Métis Federation board members for sales of the raffle tickets, Yvonne Chartrand and the Louis Riel Métis Dancers for supporting the Gala Event, and finally Keith Hill and Amy Eustergerling for playing at the Gala Event. Most of all I have to thank Peter Champagne and the entire RielCo Productions Inc. for the professionalism and assistance. Peter was a great friend throughout and understood the significance of this undertaking from the very beginning. He was supportive, flexible, and their performance was truly world class. The Trial of Louis Riel invoked emotion from everyone who attended and the comments following the performance were focused on the absolute injustice that Louis Riel was served. Thank you Peter and the entire RielCo Productions Inc. team for continuing to educate the public about this important story not yet fully understood by most Canadians.”
BC Métis Federation President concluded, “It was an emotional weekend for me personally. This weekend proved again that the Métis community throughout British Columbia is thirsting for Métis culture and education about our history. It also proved many non Aboriginal and First Nations are seeking to better understand our history and who we are in terms of Métis culture. The question remains now where do we go and it is clear to the BC Métis Federation that Louis Riel needs to be exonerated by the Government of Canada without delay. The performance, based on the actual court transcripts, proves that Louis Riel had justice and mercy denied and his name and work remains incomplete until he is fully exonerated and this historic injustice resolved. Louis Riel is a Métis hero and it is our duty and obligation to readdress this historic injustice and carry forward with Métis pride. This past weekend I was proud to be Métis and I will never forget what was accomplished. BC Métis Federation thanks everyone who attended to ensure this dream could become a reality. As I said there are not enough words I could ever express properly to thank everyone enough.”
Keith Henry, President
BC Métis Federation
Vancouver, BC V5R 5W2
Office 1-604-638-7220 Cell 1-778-388-5013
You can now follow BC Métis Federation President Keith Henry on twitter @keithhenryMetis