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Louis Riel now recognized as first premier of Manitoba

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WINNIPEG -

A portrait of Louis Riel displayed in the provincial legislature now recognizes the Metis leader as Manitoba's first premier.

Premier Wab Kinew and Manitoba Metis Federation President David Chartrand unveiled the updated plaque below the portrait today, which is recognized as Louis Riel Day in the province.

Riel led a provisional government in what is now Manitoba and blazed the trail for the province to join Confederation in 1870.

The Riel portrait has been on the walls of the legislative building for many years but the plaque designated Riel as president.

Kinew's first legislation introduced after the NDP government came to power last year was to recognize Riel's role as the first premier.

Chartrand says it is a historic and important way to honour Riel and the contributions of the Metis of the Red River.

"We have been 153 years in waiting and advocating to correct this part of our history, and today we see the true title of Louis Riel further acknowledged," Chartrand said Monday.

Riel led a provisional government in the Red River Settlement in 1869 and adopted a list of rights for people of different cultures and languages.

As tensions rose during the transfer of land from the Hudson's Bay Company to the Canadian government, Riel fought for the list of rights to form the basis of Manitoba's entry into Confederation.

Riel fled to the United States after facing threats to his life. He was arrested after a later rebellion in what is now Saskatchewan, convicted of treason and hanged.

Alfred Boyd was named Manitoba's first premier.

There have long been efforts to recognize Riel's accomplishments. He was declared a founder of Manitoba in 1992 and officially recognized as the first leader of Manitoba in 2016.

   This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 19, 2024.

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