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Langley Métis community invites public to celebrate Louis Riel Day at the Fort

Event will be held on Nov. 16
Louis Riel Day at Fort Langley, November 2019. (Waceya Métis Society/Facebook)

The Waceya Métis Society is inviting the public to celebrate Louis Riel Day at Fort Langley National Historic Site.

“See, a lot of our culture is getting lost, and this is what we’re trying to bring back by having these functions at different places – to bring all that back because we’re losing it all,” said Kelly Sears, president of the society, which serves Métis people in the greater Langley area.

The celebration will take place at the national historic site, 23433 Mavis Ave., from 10 a.m. until closing at 5 p.m. on Nov. 16.

The date marks the anniversary of Riel’s execution in 1885, according to the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC), when he was hanged for treason for his role in the historic Red River Rebellion.

Born in at the Red River Settlement, Riel was recognized for “advocating for Métis rights, Riel also fought for greater religious freedom, French language rights, First Nations rights, and greater gender equality throughout the Northwest,” MNBC reports.

“We just like to celebrate him, because of all he did for the Métis, and along with other people, he wanted freedom for the Métis and [for them] to be able to live their life on their land,” Sears explained. “So we’re trying to provide some information to people just so they know a little bit about us.”

Not only will Tuesday’s celebration be an opportunity for the public to learn more about Riel, there will also be a display of artifacts and jigging.

“The jigging is – it’s sort of like Irish jigging, but it’s with our own steps, but it’s a lively music,” said Sears. “The most famous is the Red River Jig.”

The day will be another opportunity for the Métis to share their history and culture, Sears said, something she feels is often overlooked.

She said it might not be common knowledge but there are three Indigenous groups: Inuit, Métis, and First Nations.

“When you talk about Indigenous, people think First Nations right away… we were just as important, a part of history, Canadian history, and our history is getting lost,” she said.

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