Government teaching new Canadians to hate Louis Riel

by: Obert Madondo  | Wed, Jul. 16, 2014

Louis Riel, 19th-century leader of the Métis people and founder of Manitoba province. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Louis Riel, 19th-century leader of the Métis people and founder of Manitoba province. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

He’s a prominent nineteenth-century leader of the Métis people, founder of Manitoba province and a Father of Confederation.

Toronto-based artist Chester Brown’s “Louis Riel A Comic Strip Biography,” a bestselling graphic novel depiction of Riel, won the Harvey Awards. It was a bestseller in Canada.

Riel was a freedom fighter. His struggle is one we identify with. As the CBC recently noted, “Today most Canadians, particularly the Métis, have reclaimed him as a heroic patriot, founder of Manitoba and a Father of Confederation.”

And yet, the government is rewriting Canadian history by poisoning the minds of new Canadians. It’s teaching them to hate Riel.

According to the CBC News:

It’s a quiz — offered in English and French — that’s designed for new immigrants to test their general knowledge about Canada.

How Canadian are You, eh?, found on Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s website, consists of questions like “What is the highest mountain in the country?” Or, “How many times did Queen Elizabeth visit Canada?
However, a question in French addressing the role of Louis Riel in Canada’s history is causing some controversy.

The question is: “What threat did Louis Riel represent for Canada?” And the required answer is: “He led two armed uprisings that threatened the future of Canada as a country extending from one sea to the other.”…

The questions in the English quiz seems less controversial. The question is: “What challenge did Louis Riel pose to Canada?” And the answer is : “He led two armed uprisings that jeopardized Canada’s expansion from sea to sea.”

Earlier, I responded to this egregious assault on Riel on Twitter:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s quiz reveals a double standard that betrays the government’s penchant for propaganda and bias toward non-whites. Unfortunately, we seem to be embracing the propaganda and our own prejudices as a society.

Earlier this year, an online survey asked 12,000 people the question: “Which Canadians have inspired you the most over the last 150 years?” Sir. John A. Macdonald made the top ten on the list, alongside the late NDP Leader Jack Layton, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and environmental activist David Suzuki. Lately, the Conservatives have relentlessly depicted Canada’s first prime minister as a blameless Canadian hero and perfect human being. Macdonald has a dark side and it’s easy to understand why Riel and the Métis “rebelled.” His attitudes and policies towards First Nations were genocidal. He implemented the “policy of starving First Nations to death.”

Riel’s so-called “rebellion” was a struggle to defend the rights and culture of the Métis.

Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on Twitter.com/Obiemad

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Obert Madondo

Publisher and editor
Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist and progressive political blogger. He's the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive.
  • Patrick Riel

    Having worked within government and being a bit sensitive to the subject matter I find myself dismissing the article. The truth is, I don’t believe that the Canadian Government (particularly the Dept of Immigration) has any motivation to re-ignite this controversy, nor do I believe that internally government departments have the capacity to coordinate and orchestrate an initiative like the one described in the article.
    I have family members (also Riels) that translate for various federal departments and a secret anti Canadian history agenda would be identified pretty quickly. That’s the same language I read in public school history books in grade 6. It may well be where that comes from.