Girls at Lebret


In January 1884, Indian Affairs Deputy Minister Lawrence Vankoughnet informed Qu’Appelle principal Joseph Hugonard that if the school employed members of the Sisters of Charity (the Grey Nuns), “a few female students should be taken into the institution.”16 However, Vankoughnet neglected to provide Indian Commissioner Edgar Dewdney with a copy of his instructions to Hugonard. As a result, Dewdney ordered Hugonard to send the first female recruits back to their homes.17 Hugonard persisted in his quest to have girls admitted, and, by the end of 1885, the school had nine female students. He lobbied to be allowed to

increase their numbers, arguing that their presence was absolutely necessary to effect the civilization of the next generation of Indians.

If the women were educated it would almost be a guarantee that their children would be educated also and brought up Christians, with no danger of their following the awful existence that many of them ignorantly live now. It will be nearly futile to educate the boys and leave the girls uneducated.18

By 1887, the Qu’Appelle school’s enrolment was made up of fifty-five boys and thirty-nine girls. Since no provision had been made for them in the original building design, the girls were living, working, and studying in the school attic.19


Qu’Appelle principal Hugonard initially claimed that the girls could not be counted upon to work without supervision. He observed, “The inconsistency of the Indian character is remarkable in them, especially in the elder ones.”21 By the 1890s, however, the girls had become essential to the operation of the school, having become responsible for making almost all student clothing. According to Hugonnard, the girls did “not have as much school as the boys owing to the large amount of housework, sewing, knitting, mending, washing, etc., that has to be done.”22 (The History, Part 1 Origins to 1939, Vol. 1, pp. 645-646)

Source: Historic Society of St. Boniface archives, SHSB1323
Source: Historic Society of St. Boniface archives, SHSB1324

Historic Society of St. Boniface archives, SHSB1319
Historic Society of St. Boniface archives, SHSB1320
Historic Society of St. Boniface archives SHSB1321
Vue de Soeur Dumoulin, Soeur Grise, et les élèves autochtones, Flora Matsace, Elizabeth Matsace, Thérèse Lemaigre et Anne Bell, prises sur la pelouse à Beauval, Saskatchewan lors de la visite pastorale de Mgr Lajeunesse, O.M.I. du 22-29 juin 1939. SHSB N1688
Oblats-de-marie-immaculée fonds Historic Society of St. Bonifacre,SHSB28577
This photo of two Montagnais women (Denes) was taken during the parish visit of Bishop Martin Lajeunesse, OMI, to the Catholic mission of Saint-Pierre du Lac Caribou (Brochet, Manitoba) from July 21 to 29, 1937. One of the women s’ called Marie Anne. Both were former students of Beauval. SHSB N1894