St. Francis Xavier University
Department of sociology
Submitted by: Sanmi Adereti
Student number: 201202787
Submitted to: Professor David Lynes
Submitted on: Thursday, February 19, 2015
Course: Sociology of First Nations – Soci 330
Louis Riel came to power in the height of turmoil between French and English relations. Riel was presumed the head activist for the rights of Metis and leader of two rebellions against two different governments, the Macdonald administration and King administration. Riel also killed a man to send a message, checked himself into an asylum where he found Jesus, and proclaimed to be the next prophet. He was tried and executed by a jury of his peers in one the most famous trials in Canada and Metis activism history. He was a heroic leader of a right cause, but had a poor way of going about things. This poor decision-making lead to the judgment of insanity, however Riel at first was not insane rather just did things unjustly Riel was subject to the agendas of his family, friends and associates, and these agendas led to his eventual insanity, trial and subsequent death. Although Riel’s irrational behavior resulted in the government and others to questioning his mental state, Riel’s primary objective was to have Metis rights recognized which led to some behavior that could be considered unwise, but not insane. Some of the irrational behavior Riel has expressed was through his over-the-top involvement and belief in religion. He also shows his illogical thinking by the two rebellions in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in deviances of the government. Riel could be seen to be irrational in the eyes of his family members thus the reason for his arrival at the asylum in longue pointe, along with the execution of Thomas Scott.
Louis Riel shows signs of being a noble leader with a strong heart but also shows signs of being insane early in his activity of Metis rights. One major incident before Riel was tried was the execution of Thomas Scott. Riel had Scott arrested and tried for insubordination, where he was found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad. It is said that Riel’s reason for this was that the Canadian Government would take him and the Metis seriously. “I have done three good things since I have commenced: I have spared Boulton's life at your instance, I pardoned Gaddy, and now I shall shoot Scott.”1 This helps exemplify Riels irrational behavior and how he had done three goods two of then sparing the life of Gabby and Boulton, and the third thing was that he had to kill a man to make a point to the government.
The execution put lots of stress on Canadian Government of Ontario wanting blood for Riel’s murder of Thomas Scott, also the “prejudice and political opportunism, soon drew corresponding anger from French Canada.”2 This quotation shows how Riel affected a whole nation and made it hard for the diplomatic leaders of the time, Sir John A Macdonald and Alexander Mackenzie. They each found the Riel issue divided the people of the nation and they were damned if they did something and damned if the did not.
His uncle checked Louis Riel into an asylum, as they went for a carriage ride and it ended at the asylum, Riel was unaware of this scheduled visit to the asylum.3 Louis Riel was completely blind sided by the whole ordeal and felt betrayed by his family. “He did not want medical treatment but recognition of his mission.”4 This also shows that Riel did not feel insane but did the act because he felt it was part of his mission. Lee arranged to have him committed in an asylum in Longue Pointe on 6 March 1876 under the assumed name "Louis R. David".5 This shows how his family was scared of the publicity that Riel was getting and how it would look if the Leader of Metis were put into an asylum at Longue Pointe. Fearing discovery, his doctors soon transferred him to the Beauport Asylum near Quebec City under the name "Louis Larochelle"6 This further