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Thursday, 19 April 2012

Riel: Old Medicine pt. 2

There are an handful of people in Canadian History that are completely pivotal to the Shaping of Canada.  Louis Riel is one of the most important figures in Canadian History, and certainly, between 1867 and 1886, perhaps the most important.  His legacy continues to influence Canadian Politics today.  I do not believe I have done him injustice.  Enjoy.

            And the scene changed.
 The sounds of sporadic gunfire echoed in the distance.  She was standing in front of a white 18th century frontier Roman Catholic Church.
In the distance, she could see the redcoats of the Canadian Militia, firing on the Metis entrenched positions.  She knew where she was, and she knew roughly when.  Batoche, hundreds of kilometres north of where she knew her physical body lay, deep in ritual chanting, in the heart of the Cypress Hills and over a hundred and fifty years in the future.
            She approached her grandfather.  Louis Riel’s arms were outstretched at his sides and his legs were together, forming a living cross.  There was fire in his heart, and strength in his soul that she had never before encountered.  A man she recognized from family photos to be Gabriel Dumont stood near him.  He was pleading in French to abandon this place while they still could.  Riel was deep in prayer, his strength of will coursed through him, proud and erect.  His voice was faint, hoarse from days of constant prayer.  His lips were dry and parched from days of exposure.
            Dumont moved off, shaking his head.  He knew what needed doing, but he believed in his friend, and was loyal and so, would not do it.
            She approached her grandfather with some trepidation.  This was the man she had come to see.  She moved with impunity, no one around seemed to notice her.  Those that intersected her path passed through her.  But as she approached her grandfather, he looked up and at her, though even in his surprise he broke not his chanting.
            “Grandfather, greatest of our line, ancestor, I need you,” she said.
            He shook his head, never breaking prayer.
            “Grandfather, the time has passed here.  This battle is near finished.  Dumont knows Middleton’s forces gather to storm Metis positions.  Grandfather, come with me and make a difference in the world for a third time in your life.”
            Again he shook his head.
            “Come with me, grandfather,” She reached out and touched him.  His eyes widened in fear and then in gratitude.
            For even as she touched him, he felt it, not on his skin, but in his soul.  His faith had granted him an angel.  He came willingly, out of his body. 
            Physically, his arms seemed to slack and his knees weaken, but supporters reached his body before it fell, and held it for him, arms out.  Still his lips never stopped, his voice yet whispered prayer.
            As Riel’s spirit stepped clear of his body, the scene once again changed.  Marie was snapped back into the physical sensations of her body.  Her heart beat, and pulsed raced.  Sweat ran from her body, icy cold in the night air.
            Across from her, on the other side of the dying fire, sat Louis Riel himself, gazing about him in wonderment.  Of course, he was still spirit.  His body was in the heart of a battle for a Metis nation, at its capital, Batoche.
            “Who are you?” Louis asked in French.
            “Grandfather, I am your granddaughter, Marie.”
            “Granddaughter? I have no granddaughter.”
            “Your family survived Batoche.  Your children had children, and so it goes.”
            “You are not an angel.”
            “No.  I am your descendant.”
            “What year is this?”
            His eyes widened in the fear of a pious man.  “Devil’s work!  Holy Mary, mother of God..”  He began, handling prayer beads that were identical to Marie’s, only newer.
            “Louis!  Louis, I do not lie!”  She picked up her laser rifle clicked off the safety and squeezed the trigger, a single pulse smashed a tree branch behind him with a resounding C-r-r-r-rack!  It shocked him to silence.  “Grandfather, please, I need you.  In a few moments, I believe, Sitting Bull will be here and I need you at your Manitoba best.”
            “Do you work for those Bastards in Ottawa?” Louis demanded; his spirit radiated the raw power of his people, a people far closer to the land than she.
            “No.  Ottawa has lost its power over the land.  And you, your legacy, had something to do with it.  Be proud of that, grandfather.  In fact, we skirmish with Ontario over the border still.”
            “Was I, then, successful at Batoche?”
            “No.  In a matter of days, perhaps hours, Middleton’s men will overrun your positions and arrest you.  You will be taken to trial and hung, yet your hanging will serve to divide further the French and English, and weaken Ottawa’s governance.”  She thought, perhaps, she shouldn’t have told him.  But then she realized that for him, it wouldn’t matter.  He would be taken for a madman at first, and hung anyways.  She wouldn’t tell him that, however.
            “Ahh, Dumont was right.”  The news seemed to settle him.  Her bringing him here piqued his interest.  That and Sitting Bull, a man of his own time.  He knew he had been brought here for reason.  The least he could do was humour her.
            “Why me?”
            “Because, I suspect that you can deal with him, and his Sioux.  We need the Talisman he used against Custer.”
            “Again, why?”
            “Because if Deseret forces find it, they’ll destroy it, or use it against us.  The Emperor has decided that the latter is unacceptable.  I have decided that the former is.  It holds meaning for all First Nations people; it should be taken intact.  Grandfather, we might not agree on matters of faith but we are of one bloodline.  Besides, Grandfather, things have changed since your lifetime.  The land once again holds power.  Spirits can once again be heard with volume.  The magic of our ancestors is again available.  Even the buffalo are returning.  The land is again what it must have been before the white man.”
            “I will help you, blood of mine, as I may.”  He knew that Deseret meant the Mormons, and he knew they had little love of his people, as many still clung to the old ways.  Riel, himself, was a devout Roman Catholic.  But this, he believed, was God moving, and through his Faith, began to accept the words his granddaughter had spoken.  He could feel the Riel heart that pumped her blood and knew her as a distant part of him.
            Louis looked up, into the pine trees.  “There are many ravens about, granddaughter.”
            “They’re here.  I think they might be trying to work out your presence here, grandfather.”
            Riel just looked at her, and then to the surrounding woods.  His next words were in English.  “Come forth, mighty Sioux.  We wish to talk, and smoke pipe.”  He nodded as Marie produced a genuine peace pipe.  He turned to Marie and spoke softly, “Remember, while Sitting Bull will undoubtedly be accompanied by a Medicine Man, he is also a Holy Man.”


  1. Lovely stuff, original idea, great characters. I wish I could write short stories.

    1. Thank you, Rebecca. I'm glad you are enjoying the tale.

  2. very original post! thanks for sharing

    Happy A to Z