The Next Chapter

Shelagh Rogers remembers Herb Belcourt

Herb Belcourt was an author, entrepreneur and founding member of the Belcourt Brosseau Métis Awards.
Herb Belcourt, philanthropist and entrepreneur, recorded his remarkable life story in the memoir Walking in the Woods. He died in July of 2017. (Edmonton Community Foundation)

In 2012, Métis author and entrepreneur Herb Belcourt appeared on The Next Chapter to talk about his memoir Walking in the Woods. The book chronicles his remarkable life, leaving home as a teenager, starting a successful business and co-founding philanthropic initiatives for which — among many honours — he'd receive the Order of Canada and the Queen's Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals. Belcourt died this week at the age of 85. Below, Shelagh Rogers writes a tribute to him.

Yesterday, on Facebook, I learned from the respected Métis leader Tony Belcourt that his cousin Herb Belcourt had died. Herb was an entrepreneur, a philanthropist — and author. He was 85. The arc of his life spanned from the bush to the boardroom. Herb was born in a log cabin near Lac La Biche, Alberta in 1931. His father was a fur trader. Herb left home when he was 15 to work in logging camps and later in uranium mines in Saskatchewan and then electrical crew lines in the Northwest Territories. In the 1960s, he started his own construction company. It grew and grew and Herb went on to create the non-profit Canative Housing, providing affordable homes to Indigenous people. 

Herb was a living example of paying it forward. With his growing success in the construction industry, he established the Belcourt Brosseau Métis Awards to support the educational aspirations of Métis youth and adult learners. At the award ceremonies, recipients tell their stories. Well, a few years ago, Herb Belcourt decided to tell his story. He wrote the book Walking in the Woods: A Métis Journey, which brought him to The Next Chapter. It was an honour to speak with him.
My condolences to his wife Lesley and to his family and friends, to the Métis community and to all who were touched by the life of this generous man.