Tuesday August 4 2015 7 NORTHERNERS ELDERS Aurora College offers its best wishes to NORTHWESTERN AIR LEASE LTD. on its golden anniversary. Plaque honouring Mtis patriarch unveiled in Ft. Smith Francois Beaulieu II designated person of national historical signicance By MEAGAN WOHLBERG ThegreatgrandfatherofMtisintheNorth- west Territories was honoured last week as a person of national historic signicance with a plaque unveiling in Fort Smith. Local Mtis and First Nations the territo- rial government and representatives of Can- ada came together Tuesday afternoon at the Roaring Rapids Hall to commemorate the life and legacy of Francois Beaulieu II consid- ered the founding father of the northern fur trade and the NWT Mtis Nation. Most would say he is the Louis Riel of the Mtis North of 60 said NWT Mtis Nation president Garry Bailey. It is because of him we call this place home and continue to take our rightful place in Canada as Mtis people. Son of French coureur-du-bois Francois Beaulieu and Chipewyan Chief Akaitchos sister Ethiba in the 1700s Beaulieu helped to establish the fur trade in the NWT becom- ing manager of the Hudsons Bay Company trading posts in the North and eventually em- powering the Mtis to become free traders. Thanks to his business acumen he es- tablished an independent economic base for his people said Colin Carrie parliamentary secretary for Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq who was present for the unveiling. But more than that he helped create a sense of Mtis identity and laid the foundation for a new nation of northern Mtis. Apart from his involvement in the fur trade Beaulieu was widely known as a political and culturalbroker.Capableinmanylanguageshe mediatedconictsbetweenvariousAboriginal groupsfromFortChipewyantoGreatBearLake andhelpedshaperelationswithEuropeansguid- ing explorers like Sir John Franklin into what wouldbecometheNWT.Hewasalsocrucialin bringingtheCatholicreligiontoNortherncom- munities before he died in 1872. While Tuesdays celebration was one of looking to the past Thebacha MLA and NWT Environment Minister Michael Miltenberger said the honour is one to be shared among Beaulieus descendants the entire NWT Mtis Nation moving forward. If he was here today I think he would look aroundwithsomeconsiderableprideatwhere theMtisNationhasdevelopedtotodayMilt- enberger said. He would see a Mtis Nation that is at the table negotiating one of the rst land claims for Mtis people. He would see a Mtis Nation that has signed a memorandum of agreement with the territorial government on a government-to-government basisand he would see in fact the territorial government being led by a Mtis - and not the rst. So today is a good day. Its a good day to recognize what was started by Francois Beaulieu. But its also a good day for us to think how far weve come in 143 years how we got here and how much further we have to go together he said. Around a dozen of Beaulieus descendents were present for the unveiling. Among them was Angus Beaulieu of Fort Resolution who was emotional about the recognition. HewasmygrandfathersgrandfatherBeau- lieutoldtheJournal.Imveryhappytobehere. Mygrandfatherusedtotellmemanystoriesofhis grandfather. He was a great leader a fur trader andalsobroughttheCatholicreligiontoFortRes- olutionin1852.Hesdonesomuchwithhislife. A celebrated Mtis ddler Angus said his cultural pride comes from his great-great grandfathers legacy. My grandfather raised me and he was so proudtobeaMtishesaid.SomyselfIkind of followed my grandfathers footsteps. The location of the plaque has yet to be deter- mined.OverthelastfewyearsofdiscussionParks Canada and the Mtis have gone back and forth between whether or not it should be placed in FortSmithoratSaltRiverwhereBeaulieulived. ButatTuesdayscelebrationthedescendents of Beaulieu said they would like to discuss it amongst themselves and make a proposal. My support to them was this is great this is what we want. It should be somewhere the family is very happy with said Mike Keizer external relations manager for Parks Canadas SouthwestFieldUnit.Wewillworkwiththem andwhoeverthelandownersare...butImactu- allyquitepleased.Icouldntbemorehappythat instead of just ending up somewhere it will be putsomewherethatmeanssomething.Wewould like it to be somewhere signicant. The commemoration was made by the His- toric Sites and Monuments Board of Canada which recognizes nationally and historically signicant persons places and events across the country with bronze plaques. Angus Beaulieu of Fort Resolution stands with the plaque honouring his great-great grandfather Francois Beaulieu II recognized as the patriarch of the NWT Mtis. PhotoMeaganWohlberg EXCITEMENT GROWS FOR SALT RIVER FIRST NATION The first modular components arrive in Fort Smith for the Salt River First Nation Petro Canada gas station. ATCO Sustainable Communities ASCI wishes to correct a statement made in the July 20 issue regarding Salt River First Nation teaming up with ATCO to build a new gas station on its Fort Smith Reserve. This is ATCOs first project with Salt River First Nation. The Wood Buffalo Inn built in Fort Smith in 2012 was a private project with Martselos Services Ltd. and had absolutely no connection whatsoever with Salt River First Nation.