In October of 2008, a baby girl born in Ontario to parents Kimberly and Stephen MacDougall was named Rielle after female fighter pilot Riel Erickson, who’d been featured in the TV documentary Jetstream that year.
“It was just the way it rolled off her tongue, and having seen this woman and what she was doing and how she was competing against top pilots — the name came across in such a positive manner that it instilled a really good vibe.
“So when my wife threw it out there, we really didn’t even have to think about it.”
They thought the name was beautiful, feminine and distinctive, no easy feat, felt Kimberly, who is a teacher and wanted something unique.
The parents, both French-speakers, also appreciated the fact that reversing the syllables in Rielle produced elle rit, French for “she laughs.”
In an interview from around that time, Capt. Riel Erickson — whose call sign is “Guns” — was asked about the story behind her name:
I was named after Louis Riel. My mother learned of his story from the local native community when she was growing up. She believed strongly in his story so decided that she would name her child after him. I grew up knowing his story and love the fact that I’m named after him. I love having such meaning in my name. It’s so much a part of my identity, knowing that story. I guess that’s why I feel so overwhelmed by someone naming their child after me. My namesake has certainly influenced me.
What do you think of the baby name Riel/Rielle? Which spelling to you prefer?
- Rushowy, Kristin. “Baby name: A Rielle winner, in either language.” Toronto Star 2 May 2009.
- Jetstream (TV series) – Wikipedia
Image: © 2009 Toronto Star