February 18, 2008

Louis Riel Day

It's Louis Riel Day in Manitoba (the easternmost of Canada's western provinces). Some people think Louis Riel was a traitor -- some think he was the founder of Manitoba, and more important to building Canada than John A MacDonald himself. Either way, it's a great way to heighten interest in Canadian history without yet another high school lecture on the Metis.

Everything I learned about the Northwest Rebellion in high school was presented in ultra-boring memorize-dates-and-names fashion. An annual civic holiday, perhaps alongside mandatory reading of Chester Brown's well-made graphic novel, will do more for aboriginal rights and cultural awareness than any number of ill-made 1960s National Film Board edutainmental reels.

(I love the NFB, by the way, especially for its animated shorts, but all the outdated NFB films they showed us in high school put me off Canadian history for nigh on 25 years.)

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