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Photograph of Métis and Native prisoners from the North West Rebellion, Regina, August 1885
Map entitled Map of the seat of Riel’s insurrection showing the connection of Prince Albert with other points in the North West, 1885
In this section:
In the autumn of 1885, the Privy Council was inundated with petitions from across the country, as citizens communicated their views on the fate of Louis Riel (1844-1885). Having established a provisional government to represent the interests of the Métis and First Nation peoples in Saskatchewan, Riel led an armed resistance against the Canadian militia sent to suppress his political uprising. Riel had been granted amnesty and exile ten years earlier by the Privy Council under Alexander Mackenzie (1822-1892), but his role in the rebellion of 1885 resulted in a charge of treason and a sentence of death by hanging. From the time of Riel's arrest in May until well after his execution in November, Cabinet addressed aspects of the controversy including the public outcry, Riel's mental health, the appeal on his behalf to the Queen's Privy Council in England, the evidence presented at his trial and the momentous execution itself. Many of these documents were filed among the dormant papers of the Privy Council.