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Manitoba Museum Acquires Historic Riel Artifact

Winnipeg, MB (Oct 31, 2017): Louis Riel’s walking stick, which has been on display in the Museum since January as part of the Legacies of Confederation: A New Look at Manitoba History exhibit, has recently been donated to the Manitoba Museum.

The acquisition of the walking stick will enable the Museum to move forward with plans to ensure it’s on permanent display. “The Manitoba Museum is honoured to have this meaningful artifact through which we can interpret and share the story of Louis Riel,” says Roland Sawatzky, Curator of History. “Riel is known as the Father of Manitoba, having helped to craft the Manitoba Act and enabling the province to join Confederation in 1870. This walking stick is emblematic of Riel’s journeys and quest for Métis rights throughout his life.”

“Louis Riel’s walking stick will have a central role in the revitalized Grasslands Gallery as part of the Museum’s Bringing Our Stories Forward Capital Renewal Project,” says Claudette Leclerc, Manitoba Museum Executive Director and CEO. “It has never been more important to acknowledge the role of Louis Riel as the Founding Father of our province. With over 300,000 visits and over 80,000 student visits a year, we believe that the walking stick has found a home that will provide the greatest accessibility possible to the story behind this remarkable artifact.”

The Manitoba Museum is committed to telling the story of Louis Riel as a founder of the Province in our renewed galleries and continues to cooperate with the Friends of Upper Fort Garry, the Manitoba Métis Federation, and the Louis Riel Institute to advocate for and support the creation of a Métis National Heritage Centre.

“We are thankful for the ongoing support the Manitoba Museum has provided to establish a Métis National Heritage Centre at Upper Fort Garry,” says Dr. Jerry Gray, Chair of the Friends of Upper Fort Garry. “We look forward to partnering with the Museum to interpret and program the new Centre which will be appropriately situated where Louis Riel’s Métis-led Provisional Government enabled Manitoba to join Canada.”

The Riel walking stick, previously on loan from the Royal Winnipeg Rifles Regimental Museum, was donated to the Museum in hopes that the widest possible audience would have an opportunity to appreciate the significance of this artifact.

Legacies of Confederation
The walking stick is currently featured in the Canada 150 exhibit Legacies of Confederation: A New Look at Manitoba History. Though Manitoba was not yet a province in 1867, the effects of Confederation on the Red River residents when their homeland was purchased by Canada were momentous. The exhibit tells the story of how Red River inhabitants resisted Canadian authority and proposed a province on their own terms. Following Confederation, the population of Manitoba increased tenfold over the next 30 years as a huge influx of settlers from Ontario and Europe swamped the province. Visitors to the exhibit will learn that the Prairie ecology was transformed forever and discover how First Nations and Métis inhabitants were marginalized.

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About the Manitoba Museum - The Manitoba Museum is the province's award-winning heritage and science centre. It is unique in its combination of human and natural history themes and renowned for its vivid portrayal of Manitoba’s rich and colourful history, Planetarium shows, and Science Gallery exhibits. The Museum features immersive dioramas, multi-dimensional interpretation, science and astronomy education, and quality school and community programs. The Museum has collected and protects over 2.8 million artifacts and specimens, including the Hudson's Bay Company Museum Collection. 

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