By Herb Belcourt
Reflecting on his evolving id as a individual, a Canadian and a Métis westerner, Herb Belcourt tells the awesome tale of 1 familys enduring connection to the dramatic historical past of western Canada. Belcourt strains his ancestry on to an early French-Canadian voyageur and his Cree-Métis spouse who lived in Ruperts Land after 1800. The eldest of ten young ones, Belcourt grew up in a small log domestic close to Lac Ste. Anne in the course of the melancholy. His father bought furs from neighborhood First countries and Métis trappers and, with exhausting paintings, all started a kin fur buying and selling enterprise that survives to today. whilst Belcourt left domestic at 15 to develop into a labourer in coal mines and sawmills, his father informed him to save lots of his cash so he may possibly paintings for himself. Over the following 3 many years, Belcourt begun a few small Alberta companies that prospered and finally enabled him to make major contributions to the Métis neighborhood in Alberta.
Belcourt has committed over 30 years of his lifestyles to enhancing entry to cheap housing and additional schooling for aboriginal Albertans. In 1971, he co-founded Canative Housing company, a non-profit service provider charged with delivering houses for city aboriginal those who faced housing discrimination in Edmonton and Calgary. In 2004, Belcourt and his colleagues proven the Belcourt Brosseau Métis Awards Fund, a $13-million endowment with a mandate to aid the academic desires of Métis early life and mature scholars in Alberta and to make an enduring distinction within the lives of Métis Albertans.
Awarded an honourary doctorate of legislation through the collage of Alberta in 2001, Belcourt is usually the 2006 recipient of a countrywide Aboriginal fulfillment Award for Housing. during this memoir, jogging within the Woods, he describes Albertas possibilities with admiration whereas talking bluntly in regards to the lack of aboriginal and Métis land in western Canada, and concerning the tough effects of generations of interracial false impression within the West. Addressed to younger Métis, and to all Canadians, he speaks with compelling candour approximately his love for this kingdom, and his matters approximately its destiny.
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Extra info for Walking in the Woods: A Métis Journey
Oh, I was so pleased. It had had a special case. I put the violin on the floor when some people came to visit, and someone stepped on it and broke it. That was the end of my plan to learn how to play some music. The Métis people are great storytellers. Neighbours used to come around to our house in the evening, and that was our storytelling time. We were told, as kids, to sit on the floor, against the wall, and listen. Our neighbours would tell stories that would make the hair on the back of your head stand up.
Their families travelled widely across the West on buffalo hunts, moving remarkable distances across the Prairies every season on horseback, and together in long processions of Red River carts. They were not the kind of people to settle down, although the priests tried to encourage them to do that. Each year they came back to Lac Ste. Anne to fish. At the time, and for many years later, the lake was full of whitefish. The Métis ran the fishery, and provided timber and other supplies to the traders at Fort Edmonton.
We are lucky to know a lot about our ancestors. Joseph Belcourt, my great-great-great grandfather, was a French-speaking voyageur born in 1779. He worked on contract for the North West Company, paddling from dawn until dusk in huge canoes, and carrying back-breaking loads of furs over land on long portages. As I understand the story, Joseph was working at a trading post in what is now Manitoba when he met three Iroquois voyageurs—Louis Callihoo, Ignace Callihoo, and Ignace Wanyandi— who had come from the community south of Montreal that we now call Kahnawake.
Walking in the Woods: A Métis Journey by Herb Belcourt