Is Louis Riel Day a Public Holiday?
Louis Riel Day is a public holiday in Manitoba, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.
What Do People Do?
Louis Riel Day gives people in Manitoba the chance to enjoy some time with their families, to take a short winter break or to take part in outdoor sports events. It is also an opportunity to learn about the Métis people’s culture, language, heritage and ancestral homeland.
The third Monday of February is a general holiday in Manitoba. Many people have a day off work and school and many businesses, organizations and stores are closed. In some communities, stores are open afternoon. Public transport services may follow Sunday or holiday timetables. In rural areas, there may be no services.
The third Monday of February is a holiday known as Family Day in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Here, many people also have a day off work and schools are generally closed. Many businesses and organizations are closed, but post offices may be open. Public transport services may run to their usual or reduced timetables.
The third Monday of February is not a holiday in other Canadian provinces and territories so neither Louis Riel Day nor Family Day is observed. Schools, businesses, organizations, post offices and stores are open as usual and public transport services run to their usual timetables.
Background and symbols
Manitoba’s government introduced a holiday in February 2007. This was because there was a long period between New Year’s Day and Good Friday when there were no holidays. A competition was held among school children to name the day. The winning name was ‘Louis Riel Day’ to commemorate this Manitoba politician. The date does not have any special connection to a particular event in Louis Riel’s life. The first Louis Riel Day in Manitoba was in 2008.
Louis Riel was a leader of the Métis people of the Canadian prairies. These are Aboriginal people with their own culture, language and heritage. The area, which was their ancestral homeland, is now in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia and the Northwest Territories and parts of the northwest of the United States. Louis Riel was also a founder of the Manitoba province and a Canadian politician. However, during his lifetime, he was a controversial figure and lived in exile in the United States for a number of years. He was involved in a number of uprisings and, after a controversial trial, he was executed for treason in 1885.
Louis Riel Day is observed on or around November 16 in other areas of Canada, particularly Toronto. This is the anniversary of Louis Riel’s execution in 1885. Louis Riel Day is held in Toronto to commemorate Louis Riel’s life and to celebrate the Métis people’s culture, language, heritage and ancestral homeland.