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Highlights from the Louis Riel and Métis Veterans Honour Week, November 14-19,

By Karon Shmon

Jan 16, 2023

Posted in: , , ,

We had a big week of activities for the Louis Riel and Métis Veterans Honour Week, November 14-19, 2022. GDI hosted the launch of the audio book, Halfbreed by Maria Campbell. The English version is read by Maria and the French version, in Michif French, by Dr. Cindy Gaudet.

We attended the unveiling of a large painting by Christi Belcourt entitled “Every Dot, A Prayer for the Saskatchewan Rivers.” The painting, commissioned by the College of Law at the U of S, highlights the importance of the Saskatchewan Rivers to our ecosystem. Christi Belcourt spoke eloquently about the importance of the image components of the stunning work.

On Wednesday, Louis Riel Day, we held a celebration at Batoche National Historic Site, co-hosting with Friends of Batoche and Parks Canada. Elder and Michif language keeper, Harriet St. Pierre, opened the gathering with a prayer. Maria Campbell spoke of the importance of honouring all veterans, including those from 1885 and of the deadly impact on the women and children during the aftermath.

Angela Rancourt sang ‘Proud to Be Métis” in English, French, and Michif. Christi Belcourt spoke to those in attendance and helped GDI present a gallery wrapped reprint of her work, “The Celebration” to the Batoche National Historic Site, a fitting gift on such a day of sorrow and celebration. Gregory Scofield shared his work on Louis the Heretic Poems and his repatriation efforts that will be chronicled in an upcoming GDI Press publication.

Many people walked in, or rode to, in a procession to the cemetery where veteran Edwin St. Pierre gave a short address and laid a wreath. The senior students from St. Louis recited the poem “For the Fallen” in tribute to all veterans. A hot lunch was served to all in attendance and was followed with entertainment by Donny Parenteau. Parenteau also paid tribute to the veterans by sharing the making of the GDI produced “Honouring Our Heroes” CD and video and providing several songs from the album. We celebrated the strength of our veterans with lighter entertainment that included much of Parenteau’s repertoire and the song he created with the students from St. Louis who were present to sing it with him.

While we usually alternate our celebration between Saskatoon and Batoche, it was particularly touching to hold it at Batoche, in-person, after several years of disruption due to the pandemic.  We spent very little time outside and were reminded that the fall weather in Saskatchewan is not unlike that endured by the Métis of Batoche in 1885 during the days of the resistance. We had the luxury of warm clothing and boots and somewhere to go and something to eat when our short walk and tribute was over. This helped put the suffering our ancestors endured to uphold and advocate for our rights into perspective. Maarsii to Louis, Gabriel, and all the Métis involved in the 1885 Resistance and to those who served, and are serving, up to the present.

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