Louis Riel: Hero or Villain? Essay

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Louis Riel was one of the most controversial figures in Canadian history, and even to this day – more than a century after his execution – he continues to be remembered. Many believed him to be a villain; others saw him as a hero. So who was he really? Born in St. Boniface at the Red River Settlement of Canada (present-day Winnipeg, Manitoba) on October 22, 1844, Louis Riel hoped one day to follow his father’s footsteps and become a great Métis leader just like him. Eventually, Riel was seen as a hero to the French-speaking Métis. In the Canadian West, however, most people regarded him as a villain due to his execution in 1885. Nevertheless, Louis Riel was not really a villain by heart; only a flawed man who made many mistakes in his life. …show more content…
Riel decided to help the Métis out, hence became their main leader and spokesperson. He was prepared to speak for the Métis and defend their rights. Riel’s education, speaking ability, and father’s history made him an obvious leader for his people. In time, Riel became deeply involved in his struggle to improve the lives of the Métis People, and he was eventually seen as a visionary to them. He even spearheaded the Métis into having two rebellions against the government.

Another thing that Louis Riel did in order to help the Métis was lead the Red River Rebellion of 1869. Leading this rebellion against the government was one of the very few things which caused Louis Riel to be seen as a villain. However, Riel’s purpose was only to stand up for his people, not to go against the government. An event that led up to this rebellion was when William McDougall (appointed Lieutenant-governor of Northwest Territories) ordered a survey of the Red River Settlement on September 1869. Riel declared that the land survey was a threat to his people. So in October, the Métis, led by Riel, managed to halt the Canadian surveyors and prevent them from entering Red River. Afterward, Riel helped set up Le Comité National des Métis (Métis National Committee) prior to the rebellion. In early November, Riel led an armed revolt and seized Fort Garry, which was the headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company. When William McDougall arrived at the fort, he found it blocked by
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