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Searching family roots an enlightening experience for Metis descendent.


There is a clear importance in knowing and understanding one's family history.

Just ask Lawrence Arnault, author of 'Cyprien Morin and his Descendants'.

"Understanding Aboriginal family history is important for retaining the culture and knowing where you came from," said Arnault, who is extremely passionate about his family history and about Metis genealogy in general.

In recent years, Arnault has spent significant time gathering and compiling genealogical information and photographs of the First Nations and Metis descendants from communities around Green Lake, Meadow Lake and Ile-a-la Crosse in northwest Saskatchewan.

Arnault got his information by talking with Elders and gathering oral stories about the family. He also looked into church records, Canadian census records and scrip applications.

Arnault's interest in digging into his family history came from his grandmother.

"She always spoke of her childhood and the people she knew," he said.

His interest was further peaked when he started reading literature written on the Green Lake, Meadow Lake and Ile-a-la Crosse communities.

He decided to dive heavily into documenting the family history of Cyprien Morin, whose family was one of the first to settle in the Meadow Lake area.

"People in the community were very generous with information and provided over 1,000 photos from the family," Arnault said. The people also offered help with the genealogical research, which could get difficult at times in tracking all the branches of the family tree.

In those instances, Arnault said, he would step away from the research for a moment and then come back to it with a fresh mindset to untangle certain confusions about the records and the research.

This initiative of Arnault to put together such an important document that will be around for the use of families as well as people engaging in Metis genealogy.

One descendent, Dora Morin, said she is impressed with the work, which allowed her to relive cultural and communal memories about the people listed in the book. Morin shares her own stories with her family, and says it has been a resource that brings the family history to life.

"The people are really happy and pleased to contribute to (the) research," said Arnault.

Arnault was on hand to field questions at the book launch for 'Cyprien Morin and his Descendants' on March 11, held at the North Regional College Learning Resource Room in Meadow Lake.

"The launch was well received," Arnault said, adding that he was pleased at the response of people who attended as he saw them sharing their stories and expressing their happiness at the finished product.

The family history project was promoted with the assistance of the Gabriel Dumont Institute (GDI). The book and all the photos can be found on the Metis virtual museum, which is operated by GDI at

For more information or to obtain copies call GDI at (306) 657-5715.

Roy Pogorzelski

Sage Writer

COPYRIGHT 2010 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
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Author:Pogorzelski, Roy
Publication:Saskatechewan Sage
Date:Apr 1, 2010
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