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Character of historical Metis leader Louis Riel disputed in MP's brochure.

EDMONTON

An Alberta Member of Parliament (MP) has a lot of negative things to say about historical figure Louise Riel, who has been championed for Human Rights in early Canada by protecting Metis language, land and voting rights for his people.

MP Peter Goldring has represented the Conservative Party for Edmonton East since 1997. According to his website, he is involved in the Foreign Affairs Committee, which has been a part of conducting studies on Human Rights in China, Cuba, Sri Lanka, and Iran.

In the December issue of Goldring's brochure "The Truth About Louis Riel", he has attempted to solicit a response from the public about Riel by calling him a "villain" and minimizing his important role in the history of Canada. The article goes on to say that "history is history and that it should not be re-written."

Despite repeated attempts by Sage to contact Goldring, he has not been available to respond to his brochure.

Sage talked with Metis Local #2003 President Guy L'Heureux, regarding his thoughts on Goldring's controversial statements.

"I think they (the Progressive Conservatives) are just testing the water to see just how much support or non-support there is for the Metis," he said. "All Metis people that I have spoken to are appalled at this sort of thing and are calling it hate mongering."

On Feb. 9, Metis National Council President Clement Chartier sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper questioning if Goldring's brochure is a voice representative of the Conservative Government.

Chartier asked that the Conservative Government realize Metis issues from the past still need to be addressed and that this incident should create that dialogue, more specifically land claims of the Metis people and past treatment of Metis students in residential and day schools.

As well, an email sent directly to Goldring, Metis Scholars, George and Terry Goulet, respond to his brochure by addressing the many inaccuracies depicted within it about Louis Riel and his court case. One inaccuracy they point out is that Goldring is wrong in referring to Riel as a "villain"

"(It is) a claim which is extremely insulting to thousands of Metis people and other Canadians who consider Riel an iconic hero who forfeited his life as a result of pursuing the rights of his people," the email letter states. "A villain is an evil or wicked person. Riel championed basic human rights ... A man such as Riel should never be denounced as evil or wicked."

In a recent press release, the Liberal MPs demanded an apology for the Conservative attack on Metis. Liberal MP for Winnipeg South Centre, Anita Neville stated that "Louis Riel is a symbol of the struggles that Canada had to endure in our early history, and his legacy is a matter of national importance."

While Goldring singles out Riel, not mentioned are historical figures like William Lyon Mackenzie and Louis Joseph Papineau, who also led armed rebellions to fight for responsible government.

Responses by many Metis people have been asking for answers and portray the strong collective unity of the Metis Nation to not accept hateful propaganda towards their culture.

"Typically, governments like to segregate and conquer--we must all defend each other and continue the fight for justice--otherwise, we will never be recognized as a people deserving of self-government," L'Heureux said. He, along with a strong majority of Metis representatives and activists, want Goldring to be held accountable for the brochure against the Metis and answer for his reasoning behind the propaganda.

Goldring also mentions that honouring Riel would demean the service of Canadian World War II veterans; he does not mention that a large number of Metis people fought among them.

This past November, in honour of the Metis war veterans that fought and died, a Red River Cart was added as part of the First Peoples Monument in Juno Beach in Normandy.

Goldring concluded his brochure asking for people's opinion on "whether history should be re-written" and "whether Louis Riel's conviction for treason should be overturned."

By Roy Pogorzelski

Sage Writer
COPYRIGHT 2010 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
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Author:Pogorzelski, Roy
Publication:Saskatechewan Sage
Date:Mar 1, 2010
Words:672
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