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Monday, February 16, 2009

Louis Riel's handwritten poems displayed for the public

Louis Riel's handwritten poems displayed for the publicA series of poems penned by Métis leader Louis Riel while he awaited execution for treason were unveiled by the Manitoba Métis Federation in Winnipeg on Monday, February 16. Riel gave the poems to his jail guard, who had provided him with the two notebooks in which to write, as a gift shortly before he was hanged in Regina for his part in the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. Wrote Riel in one of the four poems: "I must speak of God in Whom I trust; In Him I have room to hope. The rope threatens my life; But thank God I fear not." The poems came to light when the descendants of the jail guard, North West Mounted Police Const. Robert Hobbs, decided to put them up for auction in 2008. Expected to fetch $5,000, the Métis federation ended up paying $32,000 for the poems. Federation president David Chartrand says the Métis have watched many of their historical artifacts wind up on eBay, and they were determined to capture the poems. Although long considered an enemy of the state, public opinion has changed in recent years and Riel is now respected for the role in played in bringing Manitoba into Confederation. Monday's provincial holiday is named Louis Riel Day in his honour - CBC

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