Louis Riel's Testament

Testament of Louis David Riel.................................................. Regina Prison, November 6, 1885

I make my will, following the advice of Reverend Father Alexis Andre, my charitable confessor and most devoted director of conscience.

In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. I declare that this is my last will, and that I write it freely in full possession of my mental faculties.

The date of my death having been fixed for next November 10, and since it is possible that the sentence be carried out, I declare in advance that my submission to the dictates of Providence is sincere, that, with entire freedom of action under the influence of the Divine grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, my will conforms with the doctrine of the Roman Catholic, Apostolic Church. In it I was born, and through it, also, I have been redeemed.

I have retracted what I said and professed contrary to its doctrine, and I retract this again. I ask pardon for the scandal I caused. I do not wish any difference as big as a pin head to exist between me and the priests of Jesus Christ. If I must die on the 10th of this month, that is, in four days, I want to do all in my power with the help of my Divine Saviour to die in perfect harmony with my Creator, my Redeemer, my Sanctifier, and with the Holy Catholic Church. If God wishes to grant me the inestimable gift of life, I, for my part want to mount the scaffold and resign myself to the will of Providence, remaining detached, as I am today, from all earthly things, for I understand that the surest way to act well is to carry out oneŐs plans - in a completely disinterested manner, without passion, without agitation, under GodŐs eyes, loving oneŐs neighbour, friends and enemies as oneself for the love of God.

I thank my good and gentle mother for having loved me with so Christian a love. I ask her pardon for the faults I am guilty of against her love, and the respect and obedience which I owe her. I also ask her pardon for the sins I have committed against my duties towards my beloved and regretted father and against his revered memory.

I thank my brothers and sisters for the great love and kindness they have had for me. I also ask them pardon for all the errors I may be guilty of in their eyes. I thank my relatives and those of my wife for the affection and goodwill they have always shown me - especially my affectionate and well-loved father-in-law; my mother-in-law, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law. From them, also, I beg forgiveness for anything in my conduct which was not good or might have been bad.

I give a warm and friendly handclasp to my friends of all ages, class and condition. I thank them for the services they rendered me. I express my gratitude to my friends on both sides of the frontier who were so kind as to take care of my public affairs, to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, to the Society of St. Sulpice, and to the Grey Nuns for all the benefits I have received from them since my childhood. I offer them my thanks.

I have benefactors on the other side of the frontier, friends whose goodness for me has been beyond measure. I ask them to accept my thanks and to charitably excuse my faults. If my conduct has offended in anyway, in small or great matters, I ask pardon, asking them to take into account any excuse that might be in my favour; and as to the sum of my true faults, my culpabilities, I trust that they will have the goodness to forgive my before God and man.

With all my heart and mind, with all my strength and with all my soul, I pardon those who have caused me sorrow and harm, who have persecuted me, who without reason have fought me for fifteen year, who gave me only the pretence of a trial, who condemned me to death; and I forgive them totally as I ask God to pardon me totally for all my sins in the name of Jesus Christ.

I thank my wife for her goodness and charity towards me, for her patient share in my painful work and difficult undertakings. I beg her to pardon me the suffering I caused her voluntarily. I enjoin her to care for our little children, to raise them in a Christian manner, with special attention to all relating to good companions.

It is my desire that my children be raised with great attention to all that concerns obedience to the Church. I exhort them to show the greatest respect, the greatest docility, and the most complete affection for their good mother, I leave neither gold nor silver to my children, but I beseech God in His infinite mercy, I beseech the womb of GodŐs mercy to fill my mind and heart with the true fatherŐs benediction that I wish to give to them: Jean, my son, Angelique, my daughter; I bless you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. May you seek to know GodŐs will and be faithful in accomplishing it in all piety and sincerity; may you practise virtue, firmly and simply, without show or pretence; may you do the most good possible without failing others within the limits of an upright obedience to the ordained clergy, priests and bishops, especially your Bishop and your Confessor. I bless you so that your death may be gentle, edifying, good and holy in the eyes of the Church and of Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.

I bless you, finally, that you may seek and find the Kingdom of God and that you may moreover rest in Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Pray for me.

I leave my testament with Rev. Father Alexis Andre, my Confessor. I beg my friends from everywhere to keep Father AndreŐs name side by side with mine. I love Father Andre.

Louis David Riel, son of Louis Riel and of Julie de Lagimodiere.

The testament given here was taken from the following source.
Hold Your Head High: History of the Metis Nation in Western Canada. Written by A.H. deTremandam. 1936

Translated by Elizabeth Maquet. 1982

Louis Riel's

Last Memoirs

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Copyright Michael J. Durocher, 1997