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The Métis in Western Canada: O-Tee-Paym-Soo-Wuk

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The BeginningsThe People and Their CommunitiesCulture and Lifeways
Catholic Missions and Schools

St. Anne's churchIt was never long after a community was formed that a priest was sent to establish a parish. The longest gap without priest or church was the time from the establishment of communities in the far north of Alberta to the arrival of priests. Fort Chipewyan was formed in 1778,in 1847/48, Father Alexander Tache chose a site for Catholic mission, and in1849, Father Henri Faraud became the first resident priest. The Roman Catholic Nativity Mission was dedicated in 1851. In 1857, the first prayer books with both Cree and Chipewyan languages were printed. The first Anglican minister, Archdeacon James Hunter, arrived in 1858.

Father Thibault had established Lac Ste Anne mission as early as 1842, and three nuns joined the staff in 1859, shortly before the mission moved to St. Albert, where the nuns greatly enlarged their work, including regular classes for the children. The mission at Lac la Biche had been established in 1853, and in time, it also had classes for the children of the area. Over time, both the Protestants and Catholics established boarding schools, residential schools. Some of the earliest ones, such as the one run by the nuns at St. Albert, were begun to care for the orphaned children in the community.

Life in school

Life in a Catholic residential school was very similar to life in other residential schools. Because of the availability of nuns and lay brothers, the Catholic schools may have had a larger staff than the Protestant schools. It would also seem that the students in Catholic schools spent more time in religious instruction and prayers than those in the Protestant schools. There is also some evidence that they enforced a rule of silence.

Classes in Catholic schools were very similar to those in the Protestant ones, with the exception of an emphasis on memorizing prayers and the Catechism, and language instruction might have been in speaking French instead of English.

The emphasis in Catholic schools was much more on converting the students. They also sought to teach them how to live. They would also have been looking out for children who "had a vocation" or a future in service to the Church.

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Traditional Beliefs

Anglican/Methodist Missions and Schools

Catholic Missions and Schools

Pilgrimage (Kootenay Plains)

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