Today is Louis Riel day in Manitoba. But many people don't know who Louis Riel was. Barney Morin of St. Pierre is the communications coordinator for the Manitoba Metis Federation. He explains Louis Riel was a Metis leader who negotiated on behalf of Manitoba when it became part of Canada.

"He brought Manitoba into confederation as a bilingual province and set up what was supposed to be a historic head start for the Metis people at the time. So we wouldn't have Manitoba the way it is now, bilingually set up, without Louis Riel."

Morin adds Riel's influence extends well beyond Metis and French rights. He says it was Riel's strong negotiating skills that have helped make Manitoba the strong province that it is today.

"He defended a lot of rights for a lot of people. Whether you are Metis or Francophone, Louis Riel is your guy. The reason why we have French laws and French schools and French school divisions in Manitoba is because of Louis Riel. But we would not have the strength of the province either if Louis Riel would not have negotiated for all Manitobans. So whether you are French, Metis or just a Manitoban, he should be looked at as a hero who helped you gain the life that you have today."

In addition to being a provincial holiday, there are many celebrations being held throughout the province to honour Louis Riel.

List of Louis Riel Day Fesivities courtesy of the Manitoba Metis Federation:

Community Events
Métis Rights & Sites App Celebration Launch
February 18, 2019 - The Canadian Museum for Human Rights
When: 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m
Location: Bonnie & John Buhler Hall, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg, MB
Details: Join the Manitoba Metis Federation, the Louis Riel Institute and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to celebrate the launch of the Métis Rights & Sites App.
Admission: This event is free to attend with admission fee for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights buliding. Admission Fees - Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Louis Riel Day Celebrations - 2019
February 16, 2019 - St. Louis Centre
When: 7:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m (Doors Open at 6:30 p.m.)
Location: St. Louis Centre, 445 Tissot Street, Winnipeg, MB
Details: Louis Riel Celebrations featuring Fiddle Player Pattie Kusturok with guest Ray St. Germain
Tickets: $15.00 each & includes lunch

February 16, 2019 - Interlake Metis Grounds - St. Laurent Local
When: All day events and activities starting at 9:00 a.m. including an evening social at the St. Laurent Recreation Centre
Location: Interlake Metis Grounds, St. Laurent, MB

February 17, 2019 - Ste. Rose Community Centre - Ste. Rose Local
When: 5:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m (Doors Open at 5:00 p.m.)
Location: Ste. Rose Community Centre, Ste Rose du Lac, MB
Details: Supper, Fellowship & Entertainment, 50/50 Draws, Silent Auction
Admission: 13 yrs & up: $15.00 | 7-12 yrs: $7.00 | 5 & under FREE | Advance Tickets: Art P. 204-447-3212 or Paulette D. 204-447-2556

February 17, 2019 - St. Eustache Cartier Hall - St. Eustache Local
When: 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m
Location: St. Eustache Cartier Hall, St. Eustache, MB
Details: $5 Pancake Breakfast 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. | Kevin Chief Memorial Dancers 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. | FREE Family Skate 2:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
Activities: Axe throwing competition, bannock on a stick, snowshoeing, canoe races on the snow and a bonfire

February 18, 2019 - Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum - MMF and St. Boniface Museum event
When: 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m
Location: Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum, 494 Taché Avenue, Winnipeg, MB
Details: FREE event including Métis entertainers, Métis Artisans, hot chocolate, bannock, maple cookies and much more. Meet with historian Dr. Philippe Mailhot in the Riel Exhibit to learn more about the Riel and visit the boutique to purchase your sash, Riel shirt, or indulge in sweet treats or surprise finds!

February 18, 2019 - Harvest Hall at Brandon University - Grand Valley Local
When: 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m
Location: Harvest Hall at Brandon University, Brandon, MB
Details: FREE hotdogs, hot chocolate, and tea (until they're gone). Face painting, jigging lessons, and a live band with traditional music!

February 18, 2019 - Selkirk Friendship Centre - Selkirk Local
When: Louis Riel Day Cribbage Tournament Fundraiser registration starting at 10:30 a.m.
Location: Selkirk Friendship Centre, 452 Eveline Street, Selkirk, MB
Entrance Fee: $10.00 per team, bring your own partner. Pre-register at email or text 204-792-2164.
Details: Limited number of entries for the tournament. Canteen on site. 50% of entrance fees will be split between 1st and 2nd place. Cultural displays. Kids welcome. Door prize: Little Big Town Concert February 19, 2019.

February 18, 2019 - St. Ambroise Resource Centre - St. Ambroise Local
When: 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m
Location: St. Ambroise Resource Centre, St. Ambroise, MB
Details: 11:00 a.m. - Cribbage tournament, $5 registration with 100% payout | 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Bannock & wiener roast | 12:00 p.m-1:00 p.m. children's activities | 1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Métis Entertainers | 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Marshmallow roast & maple syrup rolling
Activities: FREE food and beverages all day! Plus Silent Auction and 50/50 raffle.

February 18, 2019 - Anola and District Community Club - Anola Local
When: 10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m
Location: Anola and District Community Club, Anola, MB
Details: Métis food will be served, admission is free, entertainment by Ivan Flett Memorial Dancers in morning and afternoon performances. Lots of family fun activities.

February 18, 2019 - Stride Place - Portage Local
When: 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m
Location: 245 Royal Road South, Portage la Prairie, MB
Details: 1:00-4:00 p.m. - Métis Activities | 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. - Indoor Public Skating | 12:00 p.m-6:00 p.m. Special Public Swim (regular prices for public swimming apply) | 4:30 p.m. - Portage Terriers vs Virden Oil Caps (Regular prices for the hockey game apply)
Activities: FREE Outdoor & indoor Métis activites for the whole family: Traditional food, bannock over an open fire, outdoor & indoor skating, hay rides, spot dances & prizes, face painting, Northern Reflections & Guest performances, vendors, door prizes, photobooth, and St. Claude Elementary School maple sugar treats.

February 18, 2019 - San Clara Boggy Creek Metis Centre - San Clara/Boggy Creek Local
When: All day events and activities starting at 8:30 a.m.
Location: San Clara Boggy Creek Metis Centre, Mailhot Avenue, San Clara, MB
Details: 8:30 a.m. - Breakfast | Le Boulet and bannock for lunch | Pot luck supper and music and much more!