A commemorative event that marked a defining moment in the creation of Louis Riel’s provisional government was held in south Winnipeg recently.
On Oct. 24, L’Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba, in partnership with a number of organizations including Entreprises Riel, held an event that included speeches, coffee, tea, and bannock and the erection of a wooden cross at what organizers call the "site of La Barrière" — which is located along a stretch of Pembina Highway in St. Norbert.
Key organizer Michelle Gervais, Tourisme Riel’s director, said the site is integral to the story, as it’s where a party led by Riel "stopped the arrival of surveyors coming in." She said one of the goals of the recent event was to mark this historic anniversary in the spotlight of the 150th anniversary of the creation of the province next year, and recognize a key moment in the Métis resistance in 1869, when a barrier was erected.
"The whole creation of Manitoba is really important, as is the history of Louis Riel and the history of our province and the events that led up to that," Gervais said, noting the site where the cross was erected is in the south end of St. Norbert near the bridge that crosses over the La Salle River.
In light of its historical significance and symbolism, Gervais said the site is important to the community of St. Norbert and beyond for any number of reasons, including tourism.
"It’s located near a major access route with the U.S., and the minute visitors enter Winnipeg, it identifies what Manitoba is about. It’s a historic site, and it’s somewhere people can learn about the beginnings of Manitoba," Gervais said, adding that while Riel is synonymous with St. Boniface, his connection to St. Norbert cannot be understated.
Depicted at the centre of the recently erected cross are the Latin words for "God’s finger is here," Gervais said.
Community journalist — The Lance
Simon Fuller is the community journalist for The Lance. Email him at email@example.com Call him at 204-697-7111