Catherine Beaulieu Bouvier Lamoureux
Catherine Beaulieu Bouvier Lamoureux was born in the Salt River area near Fort Smith, NWT, in 1836. In 1861, she moved to Fort Providence with her family. Catherine was the daughter of famous Métis leader François Beaulieu II and Louise (Catherine) St. Germain and the granddaughter of François Beaulieu the coureur des bois. She was married twice firstly to Joseph Bouvier in 1852. After he died in 1877, she married Jean Baptiste-Lamoureux in 1879. She was Métis and Dene and spoke Michif, Chipewyan, Slavey, and Cree.
In Fort Providence, Catherine was known for helping when needed at the Roman Catholic mission, which later became a hospital and a school. Although she practiced Dene spirituality, she strongly supported the Grey Nuns and provided food and interpretative services to the Mission. Catherine also delivered mail to and from Old Fort Rae and Fort Providence using her dog team or snowshoes on a trail she cut herself, a trail that spanned over 240 kilometres. She must have done a great job, as this trail is the same route that the Mackenzie Highway follows today!
Catherine was known for being a kind, caring, and a vital community member – a true matriarch. In the Métis language, Michif, she was known as “Kokum Baie.” She was also known as the “Mother of us all.” She had five children with her first husband and died at Fort Providence in 1918.
In 2011, Catherine was named a National Historic Person by Parks Canada, making her the first Métis woman from the Northwest Territories to have this title. In 2016, the Métis council of Fort Providence nominated Lamoureux to appear on a new Canadian banknote.