On Tuesday afternoon, a flag-raising ceremony recognizing both Métis Week and Louis Riel Day was held on the front steps of city hall.
During the week of Nov. 16. Métis people across Canada are commemorating the history and culture of the Métis Nation, along with the historic legacy of Louis Riel.
Members from the local Métis community say, until this day, Riel’s fight for representation in government is an inspiring story for all Canadians, whether they are Indigenous or non-Indigenous.
“I think the story of Louis Riel is very inspirational,” said Adam Browning, president of the Lethbridge Métis Local 2003. “As a social studies and history teacher, I look at it as really one of the first great stories in Canada, of people fighting for representation. It paved the way for Western Canada to join confederation.”
Browing added that it speaks to standing up for principle and what people believe in.
“Louis Riel didn’t just stand up for Métis people, he stood up for people who were disenfranchised,” Browning said.
Métis community members also say they appreciate the city of Lethbridge officials taking the time to acknowledge the significance of the day.
Alice Bissonette, a Métis elder, said she’s glad past and present city officials have been able to build a strong relationship with the Métis community by holding ceremonies such as this one, paying homage to Métis heritage.
“It means a great deal, it means we can spread the word and teach our youth that their past is as important as their future,” Bissonette said.
“Our community of Métis in and around Lethbridge encompasses several thousand people, we’re a third of the Indigenous population in Lethbridge, for us the significance of this day and having this recognized at city hall is a major step in reconciliation,” Browning said.
“We’re all Canadians, but we’re distinct Canadians, and to have that represented publicly and officially… it’s really significant for Métis people,” he added.