Erik P.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Red River Heritage Fair

Manitoba 150

Manitoba: 150 years of being a province. It started from the small “Postage Stamp Province” and moved on to be our large “Keystone Province”, the sixth largest province in Canada. Can you believe it, 150 years of Manitoba being a province! Manitoba became Canada’s fifth province in 1870. Louis Riel, the leader of the Metis and Father of Manitoba, worked hard to get the federal government to guarantee the Metis List of Rights, and today we honour him by celebrating Louis Riel Day in February each year. The name Manitoba comes from Indigenous languages, and means “straits of Manitou, the Great Spirit”, a place referring to The Narrows in the centre of Lake Manitoba.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

The most interesting thing I learned about Manitoba is that we are unique. We have amazing people like Louis Riel, Sir William Stephenson, Cindy Klassen, and more! We have the amazing Human Rights Museum that people visit from all over the world. When you dig deep into the province and explore it you will always find something that fascinates you. Just like when I found out that the city I was living in, Winnipeg, had the windiest intersection in the whole world at the corner of Portage and Main! Also, we are the only prairie province with a seaport. It is located at Churchill, and we have the majestic polar bears, and we even have a polar bear jail! I also found out that The Forks, at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, has been a meeting place for 6000 years!

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

One of the most important lessons I learned from doing this project about Manitoba is that you have to be equal and fair, and not treat a person that speaks a different language than you or is not your skin color differently, the way they did to Louis Riel and the Metis. In the end we’re all HUMAN and we all are God’s children and we all deserve respect and equal treatment. Another important thing that I learned is to always stand up for what is right and try to help the person or group that is being discriminated against. I learned that Manitoba has great leaders and will always rise right back up when it falls.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

My life today is very different from the past, like when Louis Riel was alive. I don’t have to fight for my rights, and then get executed for doing it! My life is much easier because many people in Manitoba’s past struggled and fought to get justice and equality for all the people of Manitoba. I have to thank them for doing that, and we have to keep working at that too. Also, the food, the clothing, and society are very different now. I don’t have to hunt for my food, I get it at the grocery store, and I don’t have to sew my clothes, I just buy them. I have a lot of technology that they didn’t even know about. I think Louis Riel would be very shocked to see what Manitoba is like now. I would show him around to all the beautiful sights of Manitoba, and tell him everyone thinks he is a hero now, and that he even has a day every February that honours him.