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Louis Riel Receives Honorary Title

On February 19, Wab Kinew, the first First Nations premier of a Canadian province, unveiled an updated portrait of Louis Riel at the legislature, recognizing him as the province’s honorary first premier.  

Louis Riel was born in 1844 in Saint-Boniface in the Red River Settlement. He was the eldest of eleven children born to Louis Riel, Sr., who was of Franco-Ojibwe Métis descent and Julie Lagimodière. 

Louis Riel was a standout student who went on to become a central figure in the North-West resistances and the leader of the Red River Resistance, which led to the entry of the new province of Manitoba into Confederation, earning him the “Father of Manitoba” title.  

In 1885, a formal charge of treason was laid against Louis Riel. His trial began in July in Regina and ended in November when he was executed for his role in the resistance to Canadian encroachment on Métis lands. 

Louis Riel’s life and execution have had a lasting impact on Canadian history. In 1992, Parliament passed a unanimous resolution that named Louis Riel as the founder of Manitoba. In 2007, Manitoba began to recognize him annually with a public holiday in February. In 2016, the government of Manitoba recognized Louis Riel as the first leader of Manitoba, and in 2023, the NDP government passed the Louis Riel Act. 

To acknowledge Louis Riel’s legacy, Manitoba’s 43rd Legislature bestowed the honorary title of "First Premier of Manitoba" on Louis Riel who envisioned a multicultural, bilingual, and inclusive Manitoba that respected the rights of Indigenous peoples and minority rights. 

The Act also calls on all Manitoba schools to implement curricula highlighting the significant contributions of Louis Riel to Manitoba and to Canada and acknowledging his honorary title. 

The creation of the Louis Riel School Division began in 1998 with the voluntary amalgamation of the Norwood and St. Boniface School Divisions. Four years later, the St. Boniface and St. Vital School Divisions amalgamated. Residents from both communities provided suggestions for the name of the new division, and on February 5, 2002, the Louis Riel School Division emerged and was officially amalgamated on July 19. 

The historical figure from which our division draws its name and inspiration grounds us in Manitoba’s rich culture, history, traditions, and progressive roots. 

We are proud to be named after the First Premier of Manitoba.