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All about us

History of the Union nationale métisse

The Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba is the oldest Métis organization in Canada, founded on July 17, 1887 at the home of Mr. Joseph St-Germain in St. Vital.

However, its origins can be traced back to September 24, 1884, in Batoche, Saskatchewan, where after Sunday mass at Saint-Antoine de Padoue Church, Gabriel Dumont, Louis Riel and several other Métis patriots founded the Association Saint-Joseph—the name of the patron saint being chosen by Louis Riel himself.


An ardent protector and defender of the identity and rights of the French-Canadian Red River Métis, Louis Riel also sought to establish a common front that would unite all the various Métis peoples of Red River, including groups such as the Red River French-Canadians, the Half-breeds and Rupertlanders, to name only a few. This would ensure that the Métis nation could take its rightful place within the new province of Manitoba.

 

The Association became the Union Métisse Saint-Joseph in 1887.

The founding members of the Union Métisse Saint-Joseph were:​

Joseph St-Germain, père

Benjamin Nault

Abraham Guay

Pierre St-Germain

François Poitras

Jean-François Plouffe

Auguste Harrison

Pierre Lavallée

Joseph Riel

François Marion

Elzéar Lagimodière

Pierre Deleurme

Alfred Nault

Martin Jérôme

Joseph McMullen

"So as to be more united, as our ancestors were"

Our mission

The main objectives of the Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba were and remain:

  • To unite the French-speaking Métis of the Red River;

  • To represent the French-speaking Métis of the Red River as a founding people;

  • To protect the French-speaking Métis of the Red River's people and its interests;

  • To protect, develop and promote the French-speaking Métis of the Red River's society, its traditions and its culture, and to make known the history of the French-speaking Métis of the Red River.

 

The Union nationale métisse today

Today, the Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba (UNMSJM) continues to strive to honour its mission, which is to protect, promote and honour the traditions and the culture of the Red River Métis and to make their history known through activities, workshops and community gatherings.

It continues to preserve the cultural and political values of the the French-speaking Métis of the Red River's people and to defend their language rights, their cultural rights, and their values at the local, provincial and national level. The current Board of Directors is made up of Red River Métis, including some descendants of the historic members.


The Union nationale métisse is currently embarking on a major transition, having received core funding for the first time, to help in carrying out its day-to-day operations and setting up a small team of salaried employees to support the Board of Directors.


The Union nationale métisse is currently embarking on a major transition, having received core funding for the first time, to help in carrying out its day-to-day operations and setting up a small team of salaried employees to support the Board of Directors.

Board members

The Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba elected its board members in March 2021 at the last Annual General Meeting.

Here are the members of the Board of Directors for 2020-2021

Paulette Duguay

Chair

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Paulette is a family woman with 5 children and 10 grandchildren. She is proud to have contributed to a close, united, and healthy family with her husband of over 48 years, Denis. Paulette has also maintained friendships from her childhood that will last a lifetime. Her relatives, including her family, friends and colleagues, are of the utmost importance to her. She cherishes all her connections. Paulette has contributed to the UNMSJM since 2008, filling a variety of positions, most recently that of Chair of the Board. Paulette's interests vary from the cinema to human relations. Indeed, Paulette is a cinephile with a penchant for international films. This is not surprising because she is also very interested in languages. The UNMSJM has always been of great importance to Paulette as it is an organization in which her family worked for many years. She continues the work of her family while respecting her ancestors and elders. In addition to being the Chair of the UNMSJM Board of Directors, Paulette is on the Board of Directors of the Théâtre du Cercle Molière in preparation for the 100th anniversary on April 25, 2025, and the Board of the Canadian Foundation for the Dialogue of Cultures (national committee with headquarters in Ottawa). (Photo credited to Marcel Druwé)

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Justin Johnson

Vice-Chair

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Proud Francophone Métis from the Red River, Justin is the great-great-great-grandson of André Beauchemin, Métis leader of Saint-Vital and member of the provisional government of Louis Riel.
He graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.
Justin is currently Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities (AMBM).
Since 2021, he has been a Director on the Board of Directors of Francofonds and he sits as a Director on the Manitoba 150 Host Committee.
Justin has been involved for several years in the development of francophone and bilingual communities in Manitoba and nationally. He was rewarded for his commitment in 2021 by winning the Riel Prize from the Société de la francophonie manitobaine (SFM) in the Political category.
Native of Lorette, Justin lives there with his wife Caryne and their son Ambroise.

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Dominique Duguay

Treasurer

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Dominique currently works for the federal government and enjoys his position very much. In recent years, he has also completed several home improvement projects, has increased his learning of sound recording for his church, and watched his children flourish.
When he is not busy with all of these activities, Dominique enjoys outdoor sports, such as hunting, riding, and kayaking.
According to him, it is important to contribute to the UNMSJM because it is important to preserve the Métis roots and traditions as well as the Métis culture, “If we know who we are, it is much easier to know where we are going, individually and as a people ”.

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Patrick Dubois

Secretary

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Patrick has completed his Master’s in Human Machine Interaction Science and is currently completing his PhD in Philosophy.
He has published his research at prestigious conferences and received various awards.
He is currently teaching at the University of Manitoba.
His interests range from equity and inclusiveness in social and virtual contexts and the history and cultures of Manitoba, Canada, and the world at large.
Patrick participates actively within the UNMSJM because it is a way to celebrate and learn about his Métis culture in a welcoming environment.
Patrick is also on the working committee of the CJP Muvmãte project.

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Dée-Anne Vermette

Adjudant

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Proud Métis mother and grandmother, Dée-Anne worked for three decades in the field of education. Dée-Anne has a passion for music and theater. In fact, she and her colleague Paul Sherwood each received a Prix Riel in the cultural and artistic category in 1995 for the multi-media show “Envolée FM'95”. The show was conceived with 38 talented Grade 9 students of École Lavallée, and presented on numerous occasions, including during the tour of several DSFM schools and villages in Manitoba. They were awarded the Prix national de la Francophonie Canadienne in 1996 for the same project. Dée-Anne loves to be in nature. As Voyageur François LeBlanc of the Brigade de la Rivière-Rouge since 1989, she has paddled countless lakes and rivers in Manitoba and Ontario, while singing traditional songs of yesteryear. LeBlanc is also the co-producer of the BRR CD, “Jamais je ne t'oublierai”. Retired, Dée-Anne enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends, chatting, laughing, singing and playing the guitar, often around a campfire. She also enjoys reading and learning more about the Métis and Reconciliation, reviewing a variety of texts, watching historical and international films, as well as observing and admiring the Red River flowing along side her property and the eagles, deer, coyotes, foxes, wolves passing by her house.
As the UNM’s Warrant Officer, Dée-Anne feels privileged to be part of this ancient organization where many of her ancestors volunteered. It’s a matter of the heart. She is proud to participate in her own way and to see the UNM move forward, persevering like the turtle, towards the accomplishment of its goals and missions.

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Guy Savoie

Esteemed Elder

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Guy is a distinguished UNMSJM Lifetime Elder. To say that he has accomplished a lot for Franco-Métis, Franco-Manitobans and for the city of Winnipeg is an understatement. Guy was a councillor for the City of Winnipeg for over 10 years. He was part of the discussions and agreements that brought about the Fort Gilbraltar and The Forks here in Winnipeg. Guy was the president of the Festival du Voyageur for 3 years starting in 1976. He helped diversify the festival's funding and broaden its horizons by encouraging the participation of francophone brethren from eastern and western Canada as well as from Louisiana and France. Guy is also one of the founding members the Brigade de la Rivière-Rouge. Guy now sits on the Knights of Columbus’ Goulet Council as well as on the Foyer Vincent Board of Directors. Guy has been Métis for a long time, as he puts it so well. While researching his genealogy, he discovered that he is a descendent of Louis Riel and of the Lagimodière, a highly esteemed family of the Métis community here in Manitoba. It is very important for Guy that his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren know their Métis heritage and culture well, which is why he continues his work with the Union at the age of 87.

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Elaine Beauchemin

Director

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For Elaine, raising her three children is her greatest accomplishment. Witnessing their accomplishments has always been her greatest pleasure. She is also a very committed teacher. She even went back to school after 25 years, which was scary but rewarding.
Elaine enjoys spending her free time researching and finding out what it's like to be Métis. She understands that her values come from her Métis ancestors.
Elaine also enjoys traveling and learning and hearing people's stories.
The Union is part of Elaine’s family, her family has played an important role in the Union since its inception.
Elaine is the chair of the UNMSJM's programs and operations committee as well as the 2022 Métis Congress ad hoc committee. She is also an advisor on the Board of directors of the Société métisse historique.

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Daneige Edey

Director

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Daneige completed her Bachelor of Arts in May 2020 and is working to complete her Bachelor of Education.
She has been the editor-in-chief of Réveil, the USB student newspaper for 3 years and is part of the champion soccer team at the University of Saint-Boniface.
Daneige is interested in beading traditional Métis earrings as well as sports as an athlete and trainer.
She actively participates on the Board of UNMSJM because she is a young Métis woman and believes that there is a lot of work to be done at several levels so that Métis culture is more prominent in the Franco-Manitoban scene.
Daneige is also an advisor on the finance and development committee at the UNMSJM and on the Board of directors of the Société métisse historique.

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Robert Gendron

Director

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As a current law student at McGill University, Robert doesn’t let his studies stop him from accomplishing a variety of other projects. In recent years, he helped build and bead a tikinagan for his friend and her newborn. He developed and participated in several workshops and programs related to indigenous identity with different museums. He also learned Korean as well as Anishinaabemowin.
When he has time for his favourite hobbies, Robert enjoys beading and tanning hides. He is also crazy about museums and Manitoba’s history.

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Nancy Gouliquer

Director

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Nancy is a Métis artisan with a passion for community, Métis culture and history. She connects to her French-Métis roots through teaching, volunteering and storytelling. Nancy likes to pass on traditional skills like capote-making, moccasin & mukluk sewing, hide prepping and drum-making, historic bag constructing, birch-bark collection and use, willow basket building, and Métis beading and porcupine quilling. As an elder and knowledge-keeper, Nancy is very involved in the Métis community, mentoring, giving workshops, and volunteering. As a student of history, she is a member of several historic re-enacting groups (Fur Trade & Voyageur Era) and makes presentations and displays in costume at various Museums, and, historical & cultural events.

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Christine Graff

Director

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Christine has a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Anthropology from the University of Manitoba and a Bachelor of Education from Trent University.
She is an elementary school teacher and is very proud of her marriage and her children.
Christine plays on a women's handball team and enjoys doing various arts such as beading and scrapbooking.
She says that the UNMSJM allows her to be involved in the Francophone Métis community of Manitoba. The bonds she has built with the members of the UNMSJM allow her to continue learning about her culture and her ancestors in a French-speaking environment. She wants her children to grow up knowing their culture, traditions, and the history of their Métis people.

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Marjolaine Pelletier

Director

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Marjolaine is retired but it is no small task! She teaches a CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) course called Turning Pages with MMH (Manitoba Mental Health). She has also started an exercise program that includes yoga, training, and Zumba.
Marjolaine occasionally sits as a jury in the master's program in counseling at the Université de Saint-Boniface.
His interests include Spanish, people, music, the arts and cycling.
Marjolaine sits on the board of UNMSJM because it is important to make known the activities, the mission, history, and policies of the UNM to as many people as possible, to make as many allies as possible.
She also sits on the Turning Pages Board of Directors.

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We are always looking for new Board members, and for external committee members.

 

Find out how you can support the Union nationale’s Board!

 

Our Team:

Alèxe LaRoche 

Coordinator of Programs and Operations

alaroche.unmsjm@gmail.com

Isabelle C. Monnin
Strategy and Development Officer
imonnin.unmsjm@gmail.com

 

Suzanne Saurette

Financial Officer

suesaurette@gmail.com

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Annual Reports

You can read our past annual reports to find out what we have accomplished in previous years!

Annual Report 2019-2020 (in French)

Annual Report 2018-2019 (in French)

DID YOU KNOW...

In 1887, the Board Members of the Association St.-Joseph du Manitoba were:

Chair – Ambroise Lépine

Secretary – Simon St. Germain

Treasurer – Louis Lépine

Chaplain – Father Dugas