Louis Riel artifacts ‘coming home’ to Manitoba’s Métis

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brosseau and MMF president David Chartrand shake hands. Walther Bernal / Global News

Three historical artifacts that are believed to have once belonged to Louis Riel are coming back to Manitoba.

On Saturday, at the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) Annual General Assembly, the RCMP announced the federal government is gifting the artifacts back to the Métis community as a show of good faith.

Three artifacts were signed over Saturday: Riel’s book of poetry, which was gifted to the RCMP in 1943, and a crucifix and hunting knife both believed to have once been carried by Riel before he was executed.

“It’s great to see that things are changing,” MMF president David Chartrand said. “They’re artifacts of a great leader and founder and the father of Manitoba.”

“It’s a great day for Manitoba and it’s a great day to showcase that there is a relationship between RCMP and the Métis nation.”

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On Saturday, hundreds applauded as the artifacts were signed over. All three are set to be housed in a yet-to-be-constructed Métis Heritage Centre that will be built in Upper Fort Garry in 2018.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brosseau said that getting them back to their original owners is yet another important step towards reconciliation.

“The past was tragic, bleak, dark period of time between the state and the Métis people,” Brosseau said. “Today is a physical expression of our willingness to build on the strength of an existing relationship.”

Both the RCMP and MMF said on Saturday that discussions about bringing the artifacts from a heritage centre in Regina to Manitoba have been in the works for a year.

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