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Impact on the West

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate are part of the significant telling of Canadian history. Their story is a threefold one. It is part of the religious history of Canada that has only been sporadically written about; part of the experience of colonialism and the impact on Aboriginal Peoples; and, finally, it is about the establishment of civil order as an aspect of the Francophone settlement in Western Canada. It is a difficult story to tell because, Canada, as all modern nations carved out of Indigenous lands, has come to recognize the negative impacts of colonialism on Aboriginal Peoples. An understanding of the work of the Oblates in the formation of the West will hopefully shed light on our history, cultural and social institutions so that the lessons of the past can be learned and help to shape the future.

This section of the website provides a range of articles supported by Multimedia to make over 100 years of Western Canadian history come alive.

Colonization of the WestColonization of the West

This section examines the role of the Oblates in establishing the bases of civil society in the West. This includes establishing communities, schools, hospitals and the beginnings of the social welfares system. In addition, they brought printing presses, created journals and other cultural products in both Aboriginal languages and French, and left a lasting mark on our cultural life.

Impact of the Oblates on Aboriginal Peoples and the MétisImpact of the Oblates on Aboriginal Peoples and the Métis

The Oblates were the dominant Catholic missionary order in the West and Northwest of Canada. While the Congregation was focused on bringing religion to Aboriginal Peoples, they also became a vehicle for implementing Government of Canada policies with respect to providing education and health care to these same people. This section explores a range of topics including conversions, establishment of social order, enculturation and work in the preservation of Aboriginal languages. As well, competition with other religious denominations is explored.

Métis CommunitiesMétis Communities

The Oblates had a special relationship with the Métis and this section explores Missions and early Métis communities such as Lac Ste.-Anne, St. Albert, Edmonton and Saint-Paul de Métis, Notre-Dame-des-Vicotires at Lac La Biche. As well, the work of early Oblates such as Father Alexandre-Antonin Taché, Father Henri Faraud and Father Albert Lacombe is explored.

Francophone CommunitiesFrancophone Communities

This section explores geographically from North to South in Alberta Francophone communities the development of which was influenced by the Oblates.

Educational MandateEducational Mandate

This section explores the accomplishment of the educational mandate of the Oblates both among First Nations and the Francophone community. Institutions they founded include the University of Ottawa and the College Saint-Jean, now the Campus Saint-Jean, University of Alberta.  Their involvement in the residential school system is also explored.

Hospitals, Health Care and Social WelfareHospitals, Health Care and Social Welfare

As part of their missionary and educational work, the Oblates were also instrumental in laying the foundations of the health care and social welfare systems. They were assisted in this by a number of religious orders of women.

Collaboration with Women’s Religious OrdersCollaboration with Women’s Religious Congregations

The Soeurs Grises/Grey Nuns, Sisters of Providence, Filles de Jésus, Sisters of the Assumption of Holy Mary and the Faithful Companions of Jesus were orders that worked closely with the Oblates. This section explores their joint enterprises as well as providing information on the women’s orders.

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            For more on Missionary Oblates in Western Canada, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.

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