Fort Providence Mé​tis nominate matriarch to appear on Canadian bank note

The Fort Providence Mé​tis Council has nominated matriarch Catherine Beaulieu Bouvier Lamoureux as a candidate to appear on a new Canadian bank note.

'Trailblazer' Catherine Beaulieu Bouvier Lamoureux helped found hospital, delivered mail

The Fort Providence Mé​tis Council has nominated Catherine Beaulieu Bouvier Lamoureux, far right, as a candidate to appear on a future series of Canadian bank notes. (Fort Providence Mé​tis Council)

The Fort Providence Mé​tis Council has nominated matriarch Catherine Beaulieu Bouvier Lamoureux as a candidate to appear on a new Canadian bank note.

In March, the Bank of Canada invited Canadians to nominate iconic women for recognition on the next series of bank notes in 2018.

Lamoureux is known for her strength and independence as one of the great Mé​tis women of the North. She was the first Mé​tis woman in the Northwest Territories to be named as a Historical Person of Interest by Parks Canada in 2011.

Lamoureux was born in the Salt River area near Fort Smith in 1836. She settled in Fort Providence with her family in 1861 where they lived next door to the Notre Dame de la Providence mission.

She helped create the first permanent northern Oblate mission in Fort Providence and subsequent hospital and school, working alongside the Grey Nuns to provide care and support for the poor, sick and orphaned. Lamoureux encouraged aboriginal women to make use of the health care services offered at the Sacred Heart Hospital.

'Mother of us all'

Jeanette Mandeville, Lamoureux's great-great-great-granddaughter, says the family is excited about the nomination.

"To me she's a leader, a pioneer," Mandeville said. "She's a trailblazer and I think she should have recognition for that. She's a great role model."

A portrait of Catherine Beaulieu Bouvier Lamoureaux, painted by artist Randy Sibbeston. This portrait was commissioned by the Fort Providence Metis Council after Lamoureaux was designated a Person of Historical Interest. (submitted by Fort Providence Metis Council)
Mandeville said she remembers her mother talking about visiting Lamoureux every morning, because she lived in the house next door.

"She adored her and valued spending time with her. She was known to be kind and loving and she provided fresh cow's milk every morning," says Mandeville.

"(My mom) called her Kokum Baie."

Kokum Baie in Michif — the Mé​tis language — means the "Mother of us all."

Mandeville says Lamoureux was also known for her speed and courage while driving her dog team. She cut her own trail between Fort Providence and Old Fort Rae to deliver the mail and the Mackenzie Highway now follows the route she took between the two communities.

Lamoureux was committed to passing on Northern Mé​tis culture and identity to future generations.

Gail Cyr of Yellowknife spearheaded the Bank of Canada nomination. 

"Somebody who helps and encourages the building of a hospital and businesses, keeps their language, keeps their traditions, races off to Fort Rae in a dog team or on snowshoes, is incredibly fierce, independent, everything that women are," she said.

The Bank of Canada has officially accepted the submission by the Fort Providence Mé​tis Council, as Lamoureux meets the nomination criteria.

The nomination period closes today and a long list of 10-12 candidates will be released on the Bank of Canada's website.