On this day in 1885, Métis leader Louis Riel was executed. Riel, born at the Red River Settlement in 1844, was an accomplished student who was given a scholarship to study at a seminary in Montreal. However, he later left the seminary and returned to Red River, and became active in the natives’ defiance of attempts by Canada to buy their land. As leader of the Métis National Committee, Riel led efforts to hault Canadian land surveys and coordinate with native groups to defend their land and consider entering confederation with Canada. The process hit a roadblock when a group of Métis, alarmed by the presence of armed Canadians in their land, executed a young Protestant called Thomas Scott by firing squad. However, ultimately an agreement was reached, and in 1870 the Province of Manitoba was created, which including 1.4 million acres reserved for Métis residents. Riel remained a controversial figure for his role in Scott’s death, and he soon fled to the United States, fearing for his safety from the Canadian military. In 1873, Riel left hiding to run for federal election, and became a member of the House of Commons. However, he was never able to take his seat and was soon expelled from the Commons. In 1884 he returned from America to assist Métis people in Saskatchewan to articulate their grievances against Canada, but this confrontation soon broke out into warfare. After the Métis were defeated, Riel was arrested and charged with treason and hanged on November 16th 1885. Riel’s execution made him a martyr for the Métis people, and repeated calls have been made for a retroactive pardon.
A Saskatchewan man says he filed a human rights complaint because negative media coverage of the Confederate flag debate is discriminatory and promotes hatred.
Dale Pippin’s family is originally from North Carolina, but settled in Canada 110 years ago. He takes great pride in his Southern U.S. heritage and displays the Confederate flag on his vehicle, although he’s more reluctant to do so given the intense debate about the controversial symbol, he said.
For Pippin, the flag represents his family roots and the sacrifices his descendants made fighting in the Confederate army during the American Civil War; for others, the flag represents a legacy of slavery and pro-racist views.
“Racism and hate have been linked to the flag for far too long and it’s incorrect,” Pippin said, noting history is filled with “bad instances” when people have linked themselves with other symbols.
The National Post is Canada’s premier rightwing newspaper.
They don’t go as far as endorsing it literally, but they cite examples throughout the article of Canadians just viewing the flag as harmless, or being rebellious. There’s very little actual condemnation from the author beyond referencing the Charleston shootings or that they have been banned in various places.
According to Susan Braverman, the Vancouver-based president of the franchise, the flag suggested a brand of “rebelliousness” that appealed largely to teenagers.
In 2013, Hamilton, Ont.’s Hillbilly Heaven restaurant faced a barrage of criticism for hanging a Confederate battle flag over its front door.
Owner Cameron Bailey argued that he was just trying to find an iconic southern symbol to advertise his barbeque-laden menu, although the standard has since been taken down.
“In this world, you can’t do anything without someone getting upset,” declares the restaurant’s website.
A high school in Sutton, Ont. banned all wearing of Confederate symbols after the flag became trendy among seniors sporting it on bandanas, belt buckles and lighters.
And across Canada, the Confederate flag is closely intertwined with pickup truck culture.
The meanings behind these Canadian rebel flags vary, with defenders citing rural pride, redneck kitsch, or as a symbol of generic rebellion, almost like a right-wing version of a Che Guevara shirt.
Nova Scotian Citizens Against White Supremacy said at an event Wednesday that displaying the controversial flag should be considered a hate crime. The group has started a petition urging all levels of government to take action.
It is a universal symbol of racism. That is without doubt, and I think that there is no place for hate symbols, for symbols of white supremacy in Canada,” said Dalhousie University history professor and social activist Isaac Saney.
“The flag is not just a symbol, it had a material impact in society,” he told the rally, noting that it has been a symbol for proponents of slavery.
A Toronto school has removed a Confederate flag from a history classroom after a parent filed a complaint.
The flag has been hanging inside a classroom at L’Amoreaux Collegiate Institute for several years as part of an educational display.
“It’s part of a display on the US Civil War which also includes an American flag, a National Geographic map on the battles of the Civil War and other historical information,” Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird told CityNews.
“There have been no concerns raised about the flag in the past,” he added. “However, a concern has recently been raised by a parent. While it is part of a history display, we recognize that for some, it is a sign of intolerance and that’s why the school has made the decision to take it down.”
Parent Rhoda Clarke made the complaint. Her son is in the class and she feels the flag conjures up too many negative thoughts and feelings.
“I felt despair that this flag was in that classroom, my son’s classroom,” she told CityNews. “It’s promoting hatred, It’s promoting racism, it’s promoting violence against a certain particular group, which is blacks.”