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Elzéar Goulet

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Elzéar Goulet

Elzéar Goulet (November 18, 1836 – September 13, 1870) was a Métis leader in the Red River Colony, which later became the province of Manitoba, Canada. He was a supporter of Louis Riel's provisional government and was murdered by Canadian troops under the command of Col. Garnet Wolseley, after the suppression of the Red River Resistance.

Two of Goulet's brothers were also involved in Manitoba's early political history: Maxime Goulet was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba and Roger Goulet held posts in the government.

Life

Goulet was born at St. Boniface in the Red River Colony. He received some education there, and married Hélène Jérôme at Pembina in the Dakota Territory in 1859 (Jérôme was the niece of Joseph Rolette, a local merchant and politician). He worked as a mail carrier from Pembina to the Red River from 1860 to 1869 and became an American citizen.

Goulet joined Riel's forces at Upper Fort Garry in 1869 and became second-in-command of the Métis militia under Ambroise-Dydime Lépine. On March 3, 1870, he served on the tribunal that passed judgement on Thomas Scott, an Orangeman from Ontario who was accused of treason against the provisional government. Goulet voted with the majority to impose a death sentence and was one of Scott's escorts to the firing squad the next day. The execution outraged many Ontarians and contributed to the collapse of Riel's government later in the year, when a military expedition under Garnet Joseph Wolseley entered the settlement.[1]

Goulet stayed in Red River after the fall of Riel's government. He was recognized in Winnipeg on September 13, 1870, and pursued by three men, two of whom were uniformed members of the Wolseley expedition. Goulet escaped on foot, and tried to swim to St. Boniface across the Red River. His pursuers threw rocks at him, one of which struck him in the head and brought about his death by drowning. Two of his pursuers were identified by witnesses, but no arrests were ever made. It is believed that the authorities were unwilling to prosecute for fear of causing a large-scale uprising. Many Métis believed this response effectively sanctioned violence against their community.[2]

Legacy

In 2007, Winnipeg City Councillor Dan Vandal led a drive for Winnipeg to establish an Elzéar Goulet Memorial Park near the spot where Goulet was killed.[2] The park was officially opened on September 13, 2008. Author George R. D. Goulet, great-grandnephew of Elzéar, was at the ceremony and described his ancestor as a Métis martyr.[3] His great-grandson Dan McDonald is president of the Mid-Island Métis Nation on Vancouver Island and a member of the Métis Nation of B.C. General Assembly.

The Manitoba Métis Federation has a local called Le Conseil Elzear-Goulet.[4]

See also

  • Notable Aboriginal people of Canada

External links

  • Entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, written by J.A. Jackson. Information from this source has been incorporated into this article.
  • Biography from the Métis Culture & Heritage Resource Centre, Inc.
  • Biography from the Manitoba Historical Society

References

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