In this challenge, students learn about the events and results of the Red River Resistance of 1869 and the second Métis uprising of 1885 by creating a monologue that reflects the experiences and perceived reactions of individuals who played a key role in these conflicts.
Watch or listen to the Louis Riel Heritage Minute or Radio Minute (see References), which speculates on the thoughts that ran through Riel's mind on the day of his execution. Before viewing the clip, you may wish to explain the story and summarize the events that led up to his execution. As they view or listen to Riel's monologue, encourage students to identify the:
- emotional tone of the speech
- content; i.e., what he talks about
- point of view expressed in the clip/story; i.e. what is his position on the event
- justification; i.e., how he supports his viewpoint
- intended message; i.e., what Riel wants us to learn.
It might be helpful to view the clip or listen to the monologue more than once. Discuss these factors as a class and explore how they lend authority and authenticity to Riel's account of the Métis perspective.
Inform students that they will be creating a monologue, similar to that of Riel's, from the perspective of a historical figure involved in the Red River Resistance and the second Métis uprising in the Northwest. Arrange for students to research the following aspects of the rebellions:
- general information about the two uprisings
- significant players
- immediate and longer term results.
As students conduct this research, encourage them to notice certain vocabulary in the resources, such as uprising, rebel and resistance. Point out that authors' use of these words may reflect a specific point of view or perspective and, therefore, may influence or bias their understanding of the events. Consider adapting one of the charts in Recording Our Research (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Assign students a historical figure to research. Possible figures include:
- Louis Riel
- Sir John A. MacDonald
- George-Étienne Cartier
- Pitikwahanapiwiyin [Poundmaker] (a Cree chief)
- Victoria Belcourt Callihoo (an Aboriginal woman)
- Lief Crozier (a North West Mounted Police officer)
- Frank Oliver (a Hudson's Bay employee)
- Thomas Scott (an adventurer)
- William McDougall (a politician)
- Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault (a Catholic priest)
- Gabriel Dumont (a Métis leader)
- Sir Frederick Dobson Middleton (a soldier).
See References for online sources of short biographies for many of these individuals.
Ask students to create a character profile that includes information, such as:
- character's full name
- date of birth/death
- place of birth
- physical description
- role in uprisings; i.e., how and why he or she was involved
- fears or insecurities about his or her role (to be inferred, based on the research)
- advice to present-day Canadians who are studying the Riel Resistance.
Consider adapting one of the charts and strategies in Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Explain that students are to write and perform a monologue that describes their figure's place in the rebellions and his or her perceived reactions to the events and outcomes. Encourage students to convey the emotional tone as well as the underlying or intended message of the speaker as they create their monologue. As a class, identify criteria for an effective monologue; e.g., historically accurate, engaging, believable, revealing. You may want to consult Creating Authentic Diaries (Modelling the Tools) for strategies to help students develop an authentic script for their monologue.
Arrange for students to share their monologue with the rest of the class. Encourage students to perform their monologue, perhaps aided by a few props or historical attire. After all the presentations, discuss the key differences in the perspectives on these events.
Adapted from Early Contact and Settlement in New France, edited by Ruth Sandwell, Catriona Misfeldt and Roland Case (Richmond, BC: The Critical Thinking Consortium, 2002. ISBN 0864912420) pp. 131162.