The Metis Flag was raised this morning outside of the BC Parliament Buildings to honor Louis Riel Day.
“It’s enlightening,” said President of the Cariboo Chilcotin Metis Association, Marlene Swears.
“It’s nice to be recognized. I know for many years we’ve been trying have a recognition of the Metis people in British Columbia and I think this a way of doing it and I look forward to new adventures.”
The Province said by proclaiming Louis Riel Day in British Columbia, it acknowledges the importance of Riel as a foremost historical Métis leader and the historical wrongs committed. Louis David Riel (1844-85) was a political leader and a champion of Métis rights and culture. His commitment was so strong that, in the end, he gave up his life in defense of the rights of the Métis.
“For some, it’s learned through books, through listening to speeches, to watching documentation, but it’s different for the older generation who lived it,” Swears said.
“I’m the fifth generation away from Riel’s family-my great-great grandfather was his dad’s brother so we knew those stories, we knew all those things. It was just like sitting around the campfires and the home fires listening to stories of our ancestors and survival. Today for the younger generation it would be learned through books.”
While there is still not much in the academic level or school system in terms of learning about Riel, Swears said School District 27 is offering an opportunity for the Metis people to come in and present some of the histories and share their stories.
“We have a good working relationship with that,” she said.
“So with each movement of the Metis recognition, it takes a while so I’m looking forward to this year. We’ll see what the School District here and how much academic levels that we can bring the Metis history into the school system.”
B.C. is home to nearly 90,000 self-identified Métis people. Swears said the Cariboo Chilcotin Metis Association has a membership of about 800 and asks people to contact the office to update their information.