The North-West Rebellion (or the North-West Resistance, Saskatchewan Rebellion, Northwest Uprising, or Second Riel Rebellion) of 1885 was a brief and unsuccessful uprising by the Métis people under Louis Riel and an associated uprising by First Nations Cree and Assiniboine of the District of Saskatchewan against the government of Canada. Many Métis felt Canada was not protecting their rights, their land and their survival as a distinct people. Riel had been invited to lead the movement of protest. He turned it into military action with a heavily religious tone. This alienated Catholic clergy, whites, most Indigenous tribes and some Métis. But he had the allegiance of a couple of hundred armed Métis, a smaller number of other Indigenous warriors and at least one white man at Batoche in May 1885, confronting 900 Canadian militia plus some armed local residents. About 91 people would die in the fighting that occurred that spring, before the rebellion’s collapse.
Despite some notable early victories at Duck Lake, Fish Creek and Cut Knife, the rebellion ended when the Métis were defeated at the Siege of Batoche. The remaining Aboriginal allies scattered. Riel was captured and put on trial. He was convicted of treason and despite many pleas across Canada for amnesty, he was hanged. Riel became a heroic martyr to Francophone Canada, and ethnic tensions escalated into a major national division whose repercussions continue to be felt. Due to the key role that the Canadian Pacific Railway played in transporting troops, Conservative political support for it increased and Parliament authorized funds to complete the country’s first transcontinental railway. Although only a few hundred people were directly affected in Saskatchewan, the rebellion’s lack of success contributed to the eventual assurance that the Prairie Provinces would be controlled by English speakers with a very limited francophone presence, and to the alienation French speakers across Canada who were embittered by the repression of their countrymen.