IS morphs into Louis Riel gathering place

Indigenous Services at The Student Development Centre recently brought the Western community together in celebration of Metis Culture. Maddy Arkle, a second-year Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry student, Annette Sullivan, a Metis cook and genealogist, and Murray Lusk, a historian of Metis, Scottish and Irish descent, collaborated to commemorate Louis Riel Day Feb. 11 at Indigenous Services at Western.

Louis Riel, a Canadian politician and a political leader of the Metis people, led two resistance movements against the Canadian government and Sir John A. Macdonald. Riel sought to preserve Metis rights and culture as their homelands in the northwest and progressively under the Canadian sphere of influence. Louis Riel Day has been officially celebrated in Manitoba on the third Monday in February, since 2007.

Candace Brunnette, Indigenous Services Director, and Sean Hoogterp, Learning Resource Centre Coordinator, Indigenous Services, connected with Maddy Arkle of Infinite Reach to bring students together to commemorate Louis Riel Day, bringing Metis food, history and crafts to Indigenous Services. The menu included tourtiere, rhubarb pie, maple sugar pie, three sisters’ soup, baked bannock, rosehip jam/sweetbread and salads.

Arkle facilitated a finger-weaving workshop for quick study learners wanting to make key chains and lanyards. Adults are much easier to teach than children, Arkle said, as the ability to sit still, stay in one place and attend to a task to completion, does not come natural for children under the age of 10.

Lusk has researched his own family’s history as well of that of his Metis community and regaled listeners with tales of their travel through Canada and the United States. To rapt attention, he spoke passionately of their connection to the land and water.

Sullivan offered “thanks to the Creator for the benevolence of the natural environment and the well-being of the attendance of this significant event.”