It was a special day at the Manitoba Legislature on Monday as the province declared Louis Riel as the first premier of Manitoba. 

Premier Wab Kinew, the minister responsible for intergovernmental affairs and Indigenous reconciliation, and Manitoba Métis Federation President David Chartrand unveiled a new portrait designation yesterday.

“Our government was proud to make the first legislation we introduced a bill to recognize Louis Riel as Manitoba’s first premier,” said Kinew. “We have also taken steps to ensure all Manitoba students learn about Riel and his provisional government including the List of Rights they drafted that would eventually become the basis of the Manitoba Act of 1870.”

In 1992 Riel was declared the founder of Manitoba. He was officially recognized as the first leader of Manitoba in 2016, and thanks to a push from the Manitoba Metis Federation, Riel was officially granted the title of first premier in 2023. 

On Monday, a portrait of Riel that has hung on the walls of the Manitoba Legislative Building for years was updated with a new plaque declaring Riel as the first Premier of Manitoba.  

"This is an historic and momentous day as we reflect on the true history of Louis Riel and the Métis of the Red River,” said Chartrand. “Our history has been one of hardship, marginalization, racism and discrimination – a continued struggle for recognition of our identity as the Red River Métis people. We have been 153 years in waiting and advocating to correct this part of our history, and today we see the true title of Louis Riel further acknowledged. The stain on Canada remains for portraying him as traitor and a madman, instead of telling his true history as the first premier and the founder of Manitoba. We hope what we do here today will be a catalyst for real change, so that all know the truth and honour Premier Riel’s legacy, and the legacy of our people.”

"Mr. Riel had a vision for our province: a vision of equality, where people have the right to speak French, recognize Indigenous rights, and realize our full potential living on these lands all together," said Kinew. "Each day we are getting closer to realizing Riel's vision."