There has been perhaps no more enigmatic figure in Canadian history than Louis Riel. In leading two rebellions, in 1870 in the Red River area of present-day Manitoba and in 1885 in Saskatchewan, Riel fought for the rights of the Métis, a distinct cultural group who were the offspring of marriages between French fur traders and aboriginal women. As Canada expanded westward, the Métis saw their lands and their rights encroached upon. Riel emerged as a major player in Confederation and a significant figure representing western alienation, native rights, and the complexities of French-English relations.
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