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					SS 10 CLASS DEBATE: LOUIS DAVID RIEL - HERO OR TRAITOR?

As long as Canada exists, its citizens will want to read about Louis Riel because his life summarizes in a
unique way the tensions of being Canadian: English versus French, native versus white, east versus
west, Canadian versus American.

--Thomas Flanagan, Riel and the Rebellion: 1885 Reconsidered (Preface)


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Louis Riel, a man considered a hero by his people, was hanged for high treason. The
judge in 1885 said that he was guilty because….

“Being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil as a false traitor against our said Lady
the Queen, and wholly withdrawing the allegiance, fidelity and obedience … on the twenty-sixth
day of March …, armed and arrayed in a war-like manner, that is to say with guns, rifles, pistols,
bayonets, and other weapons, being then unlawfully, maliciously and traitorously assembled…in
contempt of our said Lady the Queen and her laws, to the evil example of all others in the like
case” – trial transcript


Many years later, our class is revisiting this event. Why? - Because it is still
controversial. You will experience this during your debate when you bring history alive
and fresh eyes to the debate. Perhaps you will have something new to say.


Working in groups you will debate one of these topics:

1.        Were Louis Riel and the Métis justified in using violence?

2.        Was Louis Riel a traitor to Canada or a hero to Canada and the Métis?

3.        Should the government have executed Louis Riel?

4.        Should Louis Riel have executed Thomas Scott?

				
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