Rare artifacts help Louis come alive in Canada

Metis Henry Hall is the proud owner of Louis Riel artifacts he’s been collecting for 18 years. Hall doesn’t consider himself to be the owner but instead he would rather be considered a ‘keeper’. This collection undoubtedly the largest personal collection of Riel memorabilia in B.C., and possibly Canada, is on display which started yesterday in B.C. as part of Metis Day at the Aboriginal Pavilion which is coincidentally also Louis Riel Day. Riel is considered the founding father of Manitoba – the only province in Canada to have an official proclaimed Louis Riel Day.

Hall’s collection includes a tiny, boot-shaped snuff box, made out of buffalo bone, with Riel’s initials; two of his wooden drinking dippers; a large carved wooden cup and a buffalo-horn spoon engraved with Riel’s name and 1881, the year it was made.

During the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Four Host First Nations’ main site, the Aboriginal Pavilion at Georgia and Hamilton streets, will be holding different theme days, such as Monday’s Metis Day, and Cree Day, which happens today.

“One of the names given to the Metis is the forgotten people. That’s horrendous. We are the race of Canada. We were created here and we are still here. For the rest of my breathing days, I’ll tell people we are here.” Says Hall.
He said in the late 1500s, 500 men on three ships came from France to the banks of the St. Lawrence, now Montreal, and left 60 men behind who were hired to build a fort and trade for fur. It was these men who married aboriginal women and it would take about 100 years before the Metis identity, with its own language, food, dance and song was firmly established in Canada, he said.

The Olympics the Metis across the country to explain to the world who they are. An opportunity of great value, I must say!

“Hall said the Metis on hand Monday to demonstrate their culture through songs and dance would have been honoured to show Poole how much “the culture is coming back full strength.” (Vancouver Sun) It would be an honour to witness this great performance and to learn about Canada through the eyes of the Aborigines.

Louis Riel fought for Metis rights during the leading of Sir John A. MacDonald. Riel was later executed for treason. Today he is regarded as a folk hero.

Artistic director Yvonne Chartrand says “it was especially poignant that Metis Day fell on Louis Riel Day because he “fought for us in both resistances so we would have a voice in the world today.”

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