Thursday, November 19, 2015

Introducing new Métis Local 1880 President Gail McLenaghan

Metis Nation Local 1880 President Gail McLenaghan
Josh Davis

On Thursday November 19 members of the community had the opportunity to speak with Métis Nation Local 1880’s newly elected President, Gail McLenaghan. McLenaghan spoke about her duties as Métis President, Métis Week, and the history of Louis Riel. On Monday there was a flag-raising at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village at (1:00). McLenaghan is excited to be the new president, having helped start the Pincher Creek association over thirteen years ago.

“We honour Louis Riel,” said McLenaghan of Métis week. “He was hung on November 16th in 1885. All over Alberta there are things going on. We had a flag raising at the museum on Monday, and this today, and the kids program tomorrow.” McLenaghan explained a little of the history of Louis Riel, a Manitoban born politician who served as a political leader of the Métis people of the Canadian prairies. Emerging as a leader during the Red River Rebellion, Riel fought for the rights of the Métis people, who did not hold the titles for their lands, during 1869 – 1870. The end result of this was the creation of the Province of Manitoba. Following this, Riel faced stern opposition from the Canadian government, choosing political exile in the United States over the arrest and assassination many of his peers faced. “Then he came back, and there was the rebellion,” said McLenaghan, referring to the North-West Rebellion of 1885. “Him and Gabriel Dumont fought for our people. We didn’t win, and they hung him.” Lois Riel famously said "my people will sleep for 100 years, and when they awake, it will be the artists who give them back their spirit," and McLenaghan noted that it has been over 100 years since his death. “We’re just starting to get noticed as a people.”


(left to right) Metis Local 1880 Treasurer Gerry Pollock, Director Anita Doell, President Gail McLenaghan
McLenaghan explained that her office helps young people apply for their status to the Métis Nation of Alberta. “We’ll help as much as we can. We’ll take photos, and we fill out the application with you, and get you started on that road.” Following this the application travels to Calgary and Edmonton. “If they need anything else we have to search it out. There’s lots of research that goes on.” She explained that the Provincial Archives of Alberta are incredibly helpful in this process. “That’s how I got my status.” McLenaghan said that being president of the Métis Association will involve attending a lot of meetings. “Anything in town that I can go to, I’ll try and be there.”

On Friday, November 20 the Napi Friendship Association and Métis Association will be hosting a pizza party from 1 pm to 3 pm at the Pincher Creek’s Metis Office in the Provincial Building on the main floor. After that, the Métis Association is hosting their Christmas party on December 13 at 1:00 pm. They are also having a meeting with citizens of Calgary on the Grassy Mountain on December 14 at 6:00. The Métis Association will also be sending its youth dog-sledding in February, and are attempting to set up a retreat to Fort Edmonton, to be announced at a later date.

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