BOOKS

book cover of louis riel let justice be done
Louis Riel: Let Justice Be Done
David Doyle Ronsdale. Press, 2017. 200 pages, $24.95.
****
Reviewed by Roxanne Miller

In Louis Riel: Let Justice Be Done, David Doyle provides a carefully detailed and impressively researched account of the political climate and cultural influences surrounding Louis Riel’s actions prior to and following the Red River Rebellion of 1869-70. The events culminated in Riel’s execution for treason in 1885, an execution that has always been contentious. Doyle is intent on allowing Riel to belatedly defend himself. He succeeds in bringing Riel to life through a dialogue with a fictional commissioner. The result is Riel’s personal testimony (at the time Riel was not given the opportunity to speak) at a “Riel Inquiry.”

With Riel as speaker, the legal ramifications  of the actions of the Canadian government  during the creation of the Dominion of Canada,  the inadequacy of the original trial, as well  as Riel’s motivations as a Métis leader and politician  during the era of Confederacy, become  clearer. After reading the book one can’t help  but understand the need for a broader awareness  of the facts associated with this period of  Canadian history. It is a necessary component  of reconciliation.

Doyle’s book is most appropriate for the educator of Canadian history (specifically, grade 8 “Creating Canada 1850-1890”). The   book will enable teachers to expand on background   information and challenge the all too   readily accepted notions of the heroism and   patriotism associated with John A. Macdonald,   his ministers, the North-West Mounted Police   and the Hudson’s Bay Company. The settlement   of north-west Canada is shown in a different   light, one that needs consideration when   discussing the concepts of “cause and consequence”   and “continuity and change.” Those   interested in historical truth would do well to   read Louis Riel: Let Justice Be Done.

Roxanne Miller is a member of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto.

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