Last modified: 2013-12-09 by rob raeside
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Louis Riel flag
image by Jared Wehrle
The Métis (people of mixed native Indian and European ancestry) staged two armed uprisings in the Canadian West (1869 and 1885), under the leadership of Louis Riel, in attempts to protect their historic rights against the encroachments of eastern Canadian settlers.
The flag of the Republic of Manitoba, the "Métis Republic", flown over Fort Gary in 1869 showed a "fleur-de-lis and shamrock against a white background, with a small buffalo on the fly". (Frank Rastey, The Taming of the Canadian West, McClelland and Stewart Ltd, Toronto, 1867, p. 205).
The front page of the Canadian Illustrated News, Montreal, Saturday, April 23, 1870, carried a colour illustration of the execution of Thomas Scott by the Métis Provisional Government. It shows a banner flying over Fort Gary: a white flag with a burgundy or maroon coloured cross pattée (Templar cross) in the canton.
Louis Riel was invited to lead what became known as the Northwest Rebellion. On March 18, 1885 a flag was hoisted in Batoche, a small village in present-day northern Saskatchewan. This consisted of a "coloured print of the Holy Virgin sewn on a white banner". (Frank Rastey, The Taming of the Canadian West, McClelland and Stewart Ltd, Toronto, 1867, p. 215).
Louis Riel was executed by public hanging in Regina, November 16, 1885. A
contemporary black and white sketch of this event (in the Public Archives of
Canada) shows a flag with the configuration of the British White Ensign, a flag
usually associated with the Royal Navy, about three thousand miles from the
Peter Cawley - 30 May 1995
image contributed by Darrell Neuman, 14 March 2007
Fraser [fra98] notes:
[in May 1885] the Métis battle standard was raised over the headquarters of their provisional government at Batoche, Saskatchewan.
The flag bore a hand, a wolf's head, and two scrolls proclaiming, "maisons, autels," and "Surtout Liberté" (homes, altars, above all freedom). The suggested meaning of the symbols being: "we lift our hand in prayer to the Lord that he may grant us the courage of the wolf to defend our homes." By the end of June, and with Riel in captivity, sovereignty, if not justice, had returned to the prairies.
Darrell Neuman, 14 March 2007
Racette [rac87] mentions nine flags from the 1869-70 period. These flags are also illustrated, but they are all based on descriptions only. They are:
There are also pictures of Métis flags from 1885, these have
mostly religious motives.
Jan Oscar Engene - 13 December 1996