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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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The Passion of Louis Riel

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

‘The first time I received the Holy Eucharist, I was trembling,” said Louis Riel.  Born at St. Boniface (Winnipeg) on October 22nd 1844, young Louis Riel had a very sensitive, passionate spirit with zero tolerance for bullying.  According to Mousseau, ‘nothing irritated him as much as an abuse of strength against the weak.’  Riel also had a deep life of prayer and fasting, commenting in his diary: “Fasting and prayer are the two great keys to success in time and eternity…Nothing can resist fasting when it is done with humility, sincerity and devotion.  Fasting opens prisons and releases the most hardened criminals…Three or four days of fasting accomplish more than an army on the field of battle…”

His mother Julie had wanted to be a nun.  Instead she sent her Red River prairie-born son in 1858 to Montreal to become Canada’s first Metis priest.  Riel was deeply impacted by his mother’s spirituality, noting that “the calm reflective features of my mother, her eyes constantly toward towards heaven, her respect, her attention, her devotion to her religious obligations always left upon me the deepest impression of her good example.” Riel was very Christ-centered, praying in his diary: “Lord Jesus, I love you.  I love everything associated with You.”

You can imagine the shock to his mother when Louis dropped out of the College of Montreal just four months before his ordination. Louis went to live with the Grey Nuns in their convent.  His father’s recent death had weighed very heavily on Louis as the new head of the Riel family.  Also complicating his ordination plans was that he had secretly become engaged to Marie Julie Guernon, only to have the engagement quashed by her racist parents.  In his diary, Riel commented: “Men can struggle as they will against the will of God and oppose its fulfillment, but they never succeed in excluding it from the guidance of human affairs.  God has everything in His care.  Have confidence in Jesus Christ…”

Returning to Winnipeg, he discovered agricultural, social, and political devastation, especially among his Metis people.  When Riel stood up for the rights of the Metis, he woke up our sleepy Canada nation.  After taking over the Hudson Bay Company’s Fort Garry, Riel successfully forced Prime Minister MacDonald to recognize Metis land rights, and to accept Manitoba into Confederation as a full Province, and not just another territory.  Riel stated to the Federal negotiator Donald Smith: ‘We want only our just rights as British subjects, and we want the English to join us simply to obtain these.’  On May 12, 1870, the Manitoba Act, based on the Métis “List of Rights,” was passed by the Canadian Parliament.

The tragedy of the Red River Rebellion was the Riel-authorized shooting of Thomas Scott.  As a result, Eastern Canada would settle for nothing less than Riel’s head on a platter.  Colonel Wolseley’s troops wanted blood.  Leaving Fort Garry, Riel said: “We have fled because it appears that we have been deceived.”  Bishop Tache later said regarding the promised amnesty: ‘The Rt. Honourable John A MacDonald lied like a trooper’

In escaping to the USA, Riel comforted himself, saying: “No matter what happens now, the rights of the Metis are assured by the Manitoba Act; that is what I wanted –my mission is finished.”  Writing to his good friend Bishop Tache on Sept 9th 1870, Riel said: “My life belongs to God.  Let him do what He wishes with it.”

The time of exile in the USA was very painful for Louis Riel.  Bishop Bourget comforted Riel telling him that “…God, who has always led you and assisted you up to the present time, will not abandon you in the darkest hours of your life.  For he has given you a mission which you must fulfill in all respects.”  Riel began to move more in the prophetic, sometimes experiencing intense joy and deep sorrow in church services. With a great effort, Riel tried to suppress his weeping: “My pain was as intense as my joy”.  In Riel’s diary, he memorably said: “The Spirit of God penetrated my brain as soon as I fell asleep…The Spirit of God affects us where He wishes, and to the extent that suits Him.”

Because of the intensity of his spiritual experiences, his friends hid Riel in a Montreal insane asylum.  After being released in 1878, Riel commented: “I did pretend to be mad.  I succeeded so well that everybody believed that I really was mad.”  Perhaps Riel’s insanity was like King David’s feigned insanity before the Philistines (1 Samuel 18:13).  Riel stated: “If I did disappear or if I should lose my mind, their relentless persecution may be relaxed…Then my enemies would probably cease persecuting my Metis people.”

In 1884, Riel returned from Montana with his family, at the urgent request of the starving Metis, to Batoche, Saskatchewan. Wilfrid Laurier, later to be Liberal Prime Minister, later declared on the floor of the House of Commons: “Had I been born on the banks of the Saskatchewan, I would myself have shouldered a musket to fight against the neglect of governments and the shameless greed of speculators.”  Riel unsuccessfully petitioned the federal government before attempting to capture Fort Carlton.  “I can almost say it”, noted Louis Riel, “our cause is shaking the Canadian Confederation from one end of the country to the other.  It is gaining strength daily.”

Riel’s cause however was militarily doomed.  Most of the 250 Metis had shotguns or old muzzle-loaders, but a few had only bows and arrows.  My great-grandfather Oliver Allen, as part of the 1,000-strong Toronto militia, had Sniders, Winchesters, cannon and a Gatling gun- the forerunner of the machine gun.  The Gatling gun had been loaned to them by the US Army, and operated by an American Lieutenant Arthur Howard. While conquering Riel, my great-grandfather met my great-grandmother Mary Mclean a Regina Leader news-reporter sympathetic to Louis Riel.  Right before Riel’s hanging, Mary Mclean, who was fluent in French, disguised herself as a Catholic priest in order to interview Riel.  Her newspaper editor had told her: “An interview must be had with Riel if you have to outwit the whole police force of the North-west.” Riel said to my great-grandmother on Nov 19th 1885: “When I first saw you at the trial, I loved you.”  Shortly after, my great-grandparents Oliver and Mary married and relocated to start life anew in BC!

Before Riel died, he passionately prayed in his diary: “Jesus, author of life!  Sustain us in all the battles of this life and, on our last day, give us eternal life.  Jesus, give me the grace to really know your beauty!  Grant me the grace to really love You.  Jesus, grant me the grace to know how beautiful You are; grant me the grace to cherish You.”

My prayer for those reading this article is that we too may discover the passion of Louis Riel for his Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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(Mount) Frederick Seymour The Forgotten Governor

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

To have the 3508-hectare Mount Seymour Provincial Park right in our Greater Vancouver backyard is such a blessing.  All of us, whether nature enthusiasts, hikers, skiers or mountaineers, would enjoy the serene forest cover of hemlock, Douglas fir and red cedar.  My wife and I, along with our three sons, have enjoyed many pleasant hours hiking along the Mt Seymour trails, especially on the Baden Powell Trail that ends up down in Deep Cove.  In the last number of years that we have been hiking on Mt Seymour, I have often wondered just whom Mt Seymour was named after.

After being given a fascinating book entitled ‘British Columbia Place Names’, I discovered that Mt Seymour is named after the first Governor of the united British Columbia colony, Frederick Seymour.  Even though Frederick Seymour has been described as the forgotten governor, his namesake is found scattered all throughout our local community.  Examples are Mt Seymour Lions, Mt Seymour Dry Cleaners, Mt Seymour Little League, Mt Seymour Soccer, Seymour Dental Centre, Seymour Animal Clinic, Seymour Golf & Country Club, Seymour Heights Elementary School, and the 11th & 13th Seymour Scouts, Cubs, and Beavers.  Even SeyCove High School is a combined name involving Seymour, as well as Deep Cove.

The more I learned about the Seymour connection, the more curious I became about just who Frederick Seymour was and why so many things were named after him, including Seymour Creek, Seymour Arm, Seymour City, and Seymour Street in Vancouver.  I discovered that Seymour was born in Belfast, Ireland on September 6, 1820 to a formerly wealthy family that had just lost its properties, position, and paycheck.  Through a family friendship with Prince Albert, Seymour was appointed as assistant colonial secretary of Tasmania.  Before being appointed as Governor of the mainland colony of British Columbia in 1864, Seymour also served in Antigua, Nevis, and finally as lieutenant governor of British Honduras for 16 years.  The Duke of Newcastle chose Seymour for BC because he saw him as ‘a man of much ability and energy’.  Seymour was thrilled at the ‘prospect of a change from the swamps of Honduras to a fine country’.

Frederick Seymour got along well with the citizens of the capital city of New Westminster.  He upgraded their school, made personal gifts of books and magazines to their library, built a 200-seat ballroom, and encouraged the growth of cricket, tennis, & amateur theatre.  He also ambitiously attempted to complete Sir James Douglas’ great highway to the interior of BC, but the financial costs of construction were staggering.

Seymour hosted 3,500 First Nations people at New Westminster for a weeklong celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday.  He also gained the support of a Chilcotin Chief in ending a violent inter-racial dispute at Bute Inlet.  Seymour later reported that his ‘great object was to obtain moderation from the white men in the treatment of Indians.’

As the interior BC gold rush began to slump in 1865, Seymour went to England in a bid to cut costs by consolidating the two colonies of Vancouver Island and the Mainland.  The British Government endorsed Seymour’s plan which resulted in the abolition of the Vancouver Island House of Assembly and the establishment of New Westminster as the sole capital of BC.  Victoria was outraged that it ceased to be a capital and lobbied successfully to move the BC capital back to Victoria.  Seymour grudgingly was forced to move from his beloved New Westminster to Victoria where he was deeply disliked by many locals.  Despite such Islander animosity, Seymour was able to establish the BC public school system, improve the courts, draw up public health regulations, set standards for mining, and reduce the provincial debt.

During this period, some BCers petitioned that BC join up with the United States.  Others began campaigning for BC to join Confederation, a move that Seymour opposed in numerous ways. Seymour initially ‘forgot’ to forward a number of pro-Confederation letters to the Colonial Secretary in London but, when he did, he included his own anti-Confederation messages.  Seymour believed that Confederation was only wanted by a vocal minority of business people who were hoping that Confederation would solve BC’s economic woes.  Prime Minister John A. Macdonald was outraged at Seymour’s opposition to Confederation, stating that Seymour should be recalled “as being perfectly unfit for his present position, under present circumstances.  From all I hear, he was never fit for it.”

Seymour’s provincial recall campaign never had a chance to get off the ground, as Seymour was called up north to settle an inter-tribal war between the Nass and Tsimshian First Nations. Using the famous Anglican missionary William Duncan of Metlakatla as an interpreter, Seymour convinced the warring groups to sign a lasting peace treaty.  On his way back, Seymour died in Bella Coola from one or more possible causes: dysentery, Panama Fever, and/or acute alcoholism.  His convenient death paved the way for his opponents to sweep the memory of Seymour and his anti-Confederation feelings under the carpet.  It is amazing to realize that when BC entered Confederation in 1871, BC had fewer than 40,000 people, of which almost 30,000 were First Nations people.  Confederation for better or worse was the ‘watershed experience’ that defined our province.  Seymour was an embarrassment to John A. Macdonald and friends.  So Seymour the anti-Confederationist became the Forgotten Governor.

In the same way that Seymour was a forgotten governor in the civil realm, God is so often a forgotten governor in the spiritual realm.  It is time that we re-establish Jesus Christ in his rightful spiritual place as governor of our land.  My prayer is that God may keep our land glorious and free and that God the forgotten governor may have dominion from sea to sea.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca