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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Louis Riel: Canadian Patriot?

By the Rev. Dr. Ed and Mark Hird

Who was Louis Riel?  Was he a patriot or a dissident or both?

Louis Riel was born at St. Boniface (Winnipeg, Manitoba) on October 22nd 1844, inheriting from his father a mixture of French, Irish and Aboriginal blood, with French predominating.

Louis’ mother Julie sent her son Louis to become Canada’s first Metis priest.  The 1864 death of his father however weighed heavily on Louis, bringing about an abrupt end to his seminary training.  Four months from becoming a priest, Louis met a young Montreal girl, fell in love, and decided to marry.  He rashly left the College of Montreal without obtaining his degree, and then his marriage plans collapsed when his fiancée’s parents forbade this proposed union with a Metis.  Embittered by this racist-rejection, Riel left Montreal in 1866 – without a wife, without a career, without money.

Returning home to the Red River settlement, Riel found that locusts had devastated the land. With the demise of the Hudson Bay Company’s influence, both Eastern Canada and the United States seemed poised to swallow up the Red River settlement.  The Metis felt forgotten, ignored and politically abandoned.

Without adequately consulting the local 12,000 Red River people, the Hudson Bay Company sold the Red River settlement to Eastern Canada.  Louis Riel rallied the Metis people in 1869 to take over the local Fort Garry, the Western nerve centre of the HBC.  Riel’s goal was to force the Federal Government to negotiate Manitoba’s admission into Confederation as a full province, not just a territory. The provincial name Manitoba, rather than the expected territorial name Assiniboia, came from Louis Riel himself.

Louis Riel proclaimed that the Metis were ‘loyal subjects of Her Majesty the Queen of England’. “If we are rebels, said Riel, “we are rebels against the Company that sold us, and is ready to hand us over, and against Canada that wants to buy us.  We are not in rebellion against the British supremacy which has still not given its approval for the final transfer of the country…We want the people of Red River to be a free people…”

The Americans watched the Red River Rebellion with keen interest.  Ignatius Donnelly, a former Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, said: ‘If the revolutionists of Red River are encouraged and sustained…, we may within a few years, perhaps months, see the Stars and Stripes wave from Fort Garry, from the waters of Puget Sound, and along the shore of Vancouver.’  In the summer of 1870, Nathanial F. Langford and ex-governor Marshall of Minnesota visited Riel at Fort Garry.  They promised Riel $4 million cash, guns, ammunition, mercenaries and supplies to maintain himself until his government was recognized by the United States.  Riel declined.

After William O’Donohogue ripped down the Union Jack, Riel immediately reposted the Union Jack with orders to shoot any man who dared touch it.  Despite his rebellious reputation, Louis Riel showed himself to be a Canadian patriot who single-handedly kept Western Canada from being absorbed by the USA.  Riel prayed in his diary: “O my God!  Save me from the misfortune of getting involved with the United States.  Let the United States protect us indirectly, spontaneously, through an act of Providence, but not through any commitment or agreement on our part.”  Riel also prophetically noted in his diary: “God revealed to me that the government of the United States is going to become extraordinarily powerful.”

“The Metis are a pack of cowards”, boasted Thomas Scott, “They will not dare to shoot me.” If it was not for Riel’s sanctioning of the tragic shooting of the Orangeman Thomas Scott, he might have ended up in John A Macdonald’s federal Cabinet.  Thomas Scott’s death made Riel ‘Canada’s most hated man’.

After fleeing to the United States, Riel was then elected in his absence as a Manitoba MP. The Quebec legislature in 1874 passed a unanimous resolution asking the Governor-General to grant amnesty to Riel.  That same year, after Louis Riel’s re-election as MP, he entered the parliament building, signed the register, and swore an oath of allegiance to Queen Victoria before slipping out to avoid arrest.  The outraged House of Commons expelled him by a 56-vote majority.

Exiled to Montana, Riel married and became a law-abiding American citizen. In 1884, with the slaughtering of the buffalo, many First Nations and Métis were dying of hunger.  The Metis in Saskatchewan convinced Riel to return to Canada.  Riel sent a petition to Ottawa demanding that the Metis be given title to the land they occupied and that the districts of Saskatchewan, Assiniboia and Alberta be granted provincial status.  The Federal Government instead set up a commission.  In the absence of concrete action, Louis Riel and his followers decided to press their claims by the attempted capture of Fort Carlton.

Due to the Canadian Pacific Railway, my great-grandfather Oliver Allen was shipped with the Toronto militia to quickly defeat Riel at Batoche.  Using an American Gatling gun with 1,200 rounds a minute, the battle did not last long.  While in the West, Oliver Allen met his future wife Mary Mclean a Regina Leader news-reporter sympathetic to Louis Riel.  Right before Riel’s hanging, Mary Mclean disguised herself as a Catholic priest in order to interview Riel.  Before Riel died, he prayed in his diary: “Lord Jesus, I love you.  I love everything associated with You…Lord Jesus, do the same favour for me that You did for the Good Thief; in Your infinite mercy, let me enter Paradise with You the very day of my death.”

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

-previously published in the 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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Marie-Anne, Mother of Western Canada

By the Rev.  Dr. Ed Hird

Mother’s Day always bring to mind exceptional mothers who have made a difference.

Well-known author Maggie Siggins holds that the most exceptional Canadian mother of the 19th century was Louis Riel’s grandmother, Marie-Anne Lagimordiere (née Gaboury). Her home town was Maskinongé, a small village near modern-day Trois-Rivières in Quebec. In 1807, Marie-Anne became the first women of European background to permanently settle in Canada’s far west.  It would take another forty years before another European woman joined her.

With the death of her father when she was 12, Marie-Anne spent the next fifteen years as a housekeeper to a priest who taught her to read and write French, Latin, and do basic math.  Such education was rare for women in those days.  Marie-Anne did not marry until late in life, from a 19th Century Quebecois perspective. She rejected suitor after suitor until the grand old age of 26.

Doing the unthinkable, she married a voyageur Jean Baptiste, and then accompanied him back into the hinterlands of western Canada.  They broke the cardinal rule that under no circumstances were Eastern Canadian wives to be involved in the fur trade.  Wives in the fur trade were known as ‘fur widows’, only seeing their husbands every four or five years.

Travelling almost 3,000 kilometres by canoe, Marie-Anne faced violent rapids, portages, and deadly storm on her way west. Upon arriving at Pemina, her husband’s ‘country wife’ tried to poison Marie-Anne with a plum pudding. Her hungry dogs ate the pudding instead of Marie-Anne, and all the dogs died!

Living until age 96, Marie-Anne never returned to see her family in Eastern Canada.  It is said that she was healthy and wise up till the end.  Instead of her dainty dresses, she adopted caribou-skin leggings and embroidered moccasins. Along with learning to make pemmican, Marie-Anne became fluent in Ojibwe and Cree, and helped establish the city of Winnipeg.

She was described in Maggie Siggins’ book Marie-Anne as being ‘one tough cookie’ in order to survive her Western adventures. Shortly after her horse rushed towards a herd of buffalo, Marie-Anne gave birth to her second child in the middle of a prairie field.  Another time when a large bear attacked her companion, Marie-Anne fought back and shot the bear dead.  Once she and her husband were captured by the Tsu Tinna. Upon escaping, they were chased for five days until reaching the safety of Edmonton.

Marie-Anne lived through terrifying conflict between the Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company, in which many forts were burned to the ground.  For four summers in a row, swarms of grasshoppers were so thick that the sky was pitch black.  All crops, gardens, and greenery were ravaged within a few short hours.  During the Great Flood of 1825, Marie-Anne’s house was swept away by the river surge. Trees and cattle were swallowed up.  Marie-Anne begged her husband to leave this ‘God-forsaken’ land, but Jean Baptiste replied that if the local clergy refused to leave, they too would hang in there.  Remarkably all of her seven children lived to adulthood, with her four sons becoming involved in the thriving family businesses.

Her favorite grandchild was one of Canada’s most famous leaders Louis Riel.  He was deeply influenced by the passion and courage of his dear grandmother.  She taught him to speak the various first nations languages. She taught him to be willing to risk.  As Marie-Anne was grieved by the alcoholic debauchery that she saw at Fort Williams, Louis Riel likewise rejected alcohol abuse.  Dying in 1875, Marie-Anne lived long enough to see her grandson Louis’ dream come true: that Manitoba become a province, not just a territory in the Canadian Confederation.

My prayer is that like Louis Riel, we may be inspired by our mothers and grandmothers to be pioneers and explorers of Canada’s future.

 

 

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

 -an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-author of the award-winning 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 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 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