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Louis Riel Day in Canada

Louis Riel Day is an annual general holiday in the Canadian province of Manitoba on the third Monday of February. It commemorates the life of Louis Riel, a politician who represented the Métis people's interests.

Is Louis Riel Day a Public Holiday?

Louis Riel Day is a public holiday in Manitoba, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Bank Holiday Australia

Some people take time off for leisure activities on public holidays.

©iStockphoto.com/Filip Makowski

What Do People Do?

Louis Riel Day gives people in Manitoba the chance to enjoy some time with their families, to take a short winter break or to take part in outdoor sports events.  It is also an opportunity to learn about the Métis people's culture, language, heritage and ancestral homeland.

Public Life

The third Monday of February is a general holiday in Manitoba. Many people have a day off work and school and many businesses, organizations and stores are closed. In some communities, stores are open after noon. Public transport services may follow Sunday or holiday timetables. In rural areas, there may be no services.

The third Monday of February is a holiday known as Family Day in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Here, many people also have a day off work and schools are generally closed. Many businesses and organizations are closed, but post offices may be open. Public transport services may run to their usual or reduced timetables.

The third Monday of February is not a holiday in other Canadian provinces and territories so neither Louis Riel Day nor Family Day is observed. Schools, businesses, organizations, post offices and stores are open as usual and public transport services run to their usual timetables.

Background and symbols

Manitoba's government introduced a holiday in February in 2007. This was because there was a long period between New Year's Day and Good Friday when there were no holidays. A competition was held among school children to name the day. The winning name was 'Louis Riel Day' to commemorate this Manitoba politician. The date does not have any special connection to a particular event in Louis Riel's life. The first Louis Riel Day in Manitoba was in 2008.

Louis Riel was a leader of the Métis people of the Canadian prairies. These are an Aboriginal people with their own culture, language and heritage. The area, which was their ancestral homeland, is now in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia and the Northwest Territories and parts of the north-west of the United States. Louis Riel was also a founder of the Manitoba province and a Canadian politician. However, during his lifetime, he was a controversial figure and lived in exile in the United States for a number of years. He was involved in a number of uprisings and, after a controversial trial, he was executed for treason in 1885.

Louis Riel Day is observed on or around November 16 in other areas of Canada, particularly Toronto. This is the anniversary of Louis Riel's execution in 1885. Louis Riel Day is held in Toronto to commemorate Louis Riel's life and to celebrate the Métis people's culture, language, heritage and ancestral homeland.

Louis Riel Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010MonFeb 15Louis Riel DayCommon local holidayManitoba
2011MonFeb 21Louis Riel DayCommon local holidayManitoba
2012MonFeb 20Louis Riel DayCommon local holidayManitoba
2013MonFeb 18Louis Riel DayCommon local holidayManitoba
2014MonFeb 17Louis Riel DayCommon local holidayManitoba
2015MonFeb 16Louis Riel DayCommon local holidayManitoba
2016MonFeb 15Louis Riel DayCommon local holidayManitoba
2017MonFeb 20Louis Riel DayCommon local holidayManitoba
2018MonFeb 19Louis Riel DayCommon local holidayManitoba
2019MonFeb 18Louis Riel DayCommon local holidayManitoba
2020MonFeb 17Louis Riel DayCommon local holidayManitoba

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