Louis Riel Day celebration coming to Grand Forks

The Boundary Métis Community Association will host a celebration and flag raising on Nov. 15

Boundary resident Jacqueline Lessard’s ancestry winds back through a mountain pass namesake (Yellowhead/tête jaune) to Alberta, across the prairies through the Red River Valley and east to New Jersey, where Peter Pangman, a founder of the Northwest Trading Company, was born in 1744.

Pangman, a great grandfather of several generations back to Lessard, married Marguerite Sauteuse, an Indigenous woman from the western prairies. Their son, Bastonnais Pangman, rose to be an influential Métis leader and buffalo hunter. He even helped found a Hudson’s Bay Company post at Turtle River, also known as Grand Forks, North Dakota.

But all this background went unknown to Lessard until about 10 years ago, she said.

“It’s something that I did not take lightly,” Lessard said, noting that at the time, she and her daughter, then 24, made a commitment to embrace their reconnected identities.

“If we were going to say yes, we are Métis, then we needed to do it to the degree that we felt comfortable to tell people we are Métis and to be proud of who we are,” Lessard recalled.

More than 100 people in the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary identified as Métis on the 2016 census, and now, to celebrate their culture, the Boundary Métis Community Association will be honouring their past on Nov. 15 at a ceremony to recognize Louis Riel Day (officially Nov. 16 in B.C.).

Riel, the infamous Métis leader and politician who advocated for the rights of his people, lead two main resistance movements – the first which led to the creation of a provisional Métis government in the Red River Valley, the second, again to assert Métis rights, culminated in his arrest for high treason.

But from traitor to devoted leader, from “rebellion” to “resistance,” Riel’s legacy is becoming better understood, and with it, the Métis nation in Canada.

“Often we say we’re this forgotten people,” said Lessard. “The Crown as well as the federal government did take our land as well, and there was the promise that there would be compensation well – that never occurred.”

Lessard, who is also a director with the Boundary Métis Community Association, attributes the shift in understanding to listening to a different group of storytellers.

“The difference is that now we acknowledge the historians of the day that were telling the story were trained, educated, probably British, historians.”

Now, history recognizes the voices of the Métis, who have been telling their own stories first-hand for over a century.

In 2016, B.C. officially proclaimed Nov. 16 to be Louis Riel Day in the province. Grand Forks, however, will be celebrating a day early. At 11 a.m. on Friday, the flag raising ceremony will start at Gyro Park – though Lessard encourages people to arrive around 10:45 to get settled into the fiddle music with a cup of hot chocolate.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rural Boundary areas get funding for flood risk assessment

The study will mesh with those completed for Grand Forks, Midway and Greenwood

Grand Forks nets $3.6M to upgrade Eastside reservoir

Necessary upgrades for the facility were identified nearly 10 years ago

Christina Lake fire department christens new boat

The department leveraged its members’ skills to repurpose a former recreational pontoon boat

Gun enthusiasts arrive in Kelowna for the Western Canadian Skeet Championship

The competition will be held from July 17-19, 2020 in Joe Rich

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Commercial huckleberry harvesting restricted in Kootenays

The province of B.C. has banned commercial-scale picking from July 15 to October 15

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Most Read