This year, Manitoba's annual Louis Riel Day falls on February 20. A day to celebrate the Métis man who was a primary leader in bringing Manitoba into Confederation.


Louis Riel was born in 1844 in the Red River Settlement.

In 1869, Riel became president of the Métis National Committee, which was a group to protect the social, cultural and political status of the Métis in the Red River Settlement. The Committee held a meeting to discuss the possibility of a union with Canada. They created a "List of Rights," which was deemed necessary if the "people of the North-West" were to enter Confederation. This convention changed to become the "Provisional Government of Assiniboia."

Three delegates from the provisional government met with officials from Ottawa to discuss to possibility of Assiniboia joining the Confederation, and on May 12, 1870, the Manitoba Act received royal ascension declaring Manitoba as an official province of Canada.

After Manitoba joined Confederation, many people wanted him dead and this caused him to go into hiding, the province of Ontario even put a $5,000 bounty for his arrest. Riel was even ushered by Sir. John A. Macdonald to go into hiding. The Métis man hid in the United States for four months before secretly returning.

In 1875, the federal government granted an official pardon to Riel for convictions against him and was banished from "Her Majesty's Dominions" for five years. Between the years 1879 and 1884, Riel integrated with the Métis in Montana, became a member of the Republican Party, and assisted a Saskatchewan Métis group to protect their legal rights.

In July 1885, Riel was formally charged with treason, and instead of allowing his lawyers to use his supposed "insanity" as a defence, Riel wanted people to know that he stood for the Métis community's grievances with the federal government. On November 16, 1885, was executed on a public gallows in Regina.

Louis Riel Day is celebrated because of his strong beliefs in defending the Métis community and is recognized as a Father of Confederation. Today, he is seen as a Canadian hero and a figure for bilingualism, multiculturalism, and social justice.

With articles from The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Related Stories:


Friday, February 17: 

Festival du Voyager: ($)

  • Feb 17 to Feb 26, Parc du Voyageur, Winnipeg
  • Free events available
  • Music
  • Activities
  • Art installations
  • Special events

Saturday, February 18:

Free Family Fishing Weekend: (free)

  • Feb 18 to Feb 20
  • No license required
  • Does not apply to federal parks

Le Relais Norwood Trading Post: (free)

  • From 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Coronation Park
  • Live music and entertainment
  • Face painting and henna
  • Hot beverages
  • Skating
  • Curling
  • Ski mobile library

Gateway Recreation Centre 2023 Winter Carnival: (free)

  • From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Gateway Recreation Centre
  • Activities and games
  • Face painting
  • Crafting
  • Dino bouncer
  • Treasure hunt
  • Pancake breakfast
  • Marshmallow igloo building

Warming Hut Tours: (free)

  • From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at The Forks
  • Guided tour of Warming Huts 2023 along Nestaweya River Trail.

Afro-Caribbean Association of Manitoba Movie Night: (free)

  • From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Afro-Caribbean Association of Manitoba
  • Movie playing - "The Woman King"

Harry Popper and the Little Mermaid Spell: ($)

  • At 11 a.m. at Celebrations Dinner Theatre
  • Incredible experience
  • Original shows
  • Delicious food
  • Lasting Memories

Alive in the Woods: ($)

  • From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at FortWhyte Alive
  • Nature-inspired activities
  • Crafts
  • Games
  • Exploration
Read More:

Sunday, February 19:

Snowshoe Sundays: (free)

  • From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Living Prarie Museum
  • Self-guided tours of prairie preserve

Arctic Glacier Winter Park Programming at The Forks: (free)

  • From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Arctive Glacier Winter Park
  • Horse-drawn sleigh
  • Dance and skate on the Canopy Rink with live music
  • Storytelling

Night Light at The Forks: (free)

  • From 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the Nestaweya River Trail
  • Ski, walk, bike or skate
  • Light show

Cabin Fever: Free Film for Kids: (free)

  • From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Cinamatheque
  • Movie playing - "The Witches"

Sod House Homesteaders: ($)

  • From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at FortWhyte Alive
  • Interactive experience to learn Manitoba's cultural history

Monday, February 20:

Louis Riel Day Family Skate: (free)

  • Feb. 20 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Prichard Park
  • Free skates available
  • Hot drinks

Family Fun Day: (free)

  • Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. at Springs Church
  • Bouncers
  • Cash cube
  • Reptile garden
  • More!

Rekindling our Connections: (free)

  • Feb 20 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Anola Community Club
  • Celebrate Métis food, culture and heritage
  • Activity tables
  • Artisan stations
  • Entertainment
  • Door prizes
  • Children's Activities
  • Contests

Métis Voices Walking Tour: (free)

  • From 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at The Forks Market
  • Three hour historical tour through The Forks, to Riel's grave and Upper Fort Garry

Louis Riel Day at WAG - Quamajuq: ($)

  • From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Kids crafts
  • Beading workshop
  • Films
  • Guided tours

Voyageur Day: ($)

  • From 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Wetland Discovery Centre
  • Voyageur-themed contests, competitions and games
  • Lunch
  • More

Franco-Fun Day: ($)

  • From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Children's Museum
  • French-Canadian artifacts display
  • Louis Riel story retelling
  • Crafts
  • Interactive dance performance
  • French story time
  • Sweet treats
  • More