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A group of high school paddlers from Calgary, who were glad to be filled in on our Dene history and what we are trying to save of our Dene culture. photo courtesy Antoine Mountain

Friends, it was a sad day recently, with the passing of Rene Fumoleau, a long-time advocate for Dene rights.
My memories of the former priest go all the way back well over a half-century, when he first came here to Radilih Koe, Fort Good Hope.
Many here recall his quiet, unassuming ways and the fact that he had very good dogs, which took him all the way out to the Barren Lands.
Over the years I also ended up working on his now famous book, As Long As This Land Shall Last, a History of Treaties 8 and 11.
Now with my own book out, From Bear Rock Mountain; the Life and Times of a Dene Residential School Survivor, the same forces are at play in the North, including Canada’s grim treatment of First Nations children.
I am just at the start of my fifth year of Indigenous PhD Studies and about to complete my comprehensive exams. As a part of my research I undertook to do a Cancer Victims Memorial Mural, with the help of carpenter extraordinaire Curtis Manuel, who volunteered to do his part.
Florence and George Barnaby also helped out with the names of these cancer victims from the early 1950s.
Another of our most recent efforts are to legally protect the Ramparts River, Ts’ude Niline Tuyeta area, for future generations.
Almost all of our local peoples have at one time or another counted on the large number of resources from there, the moose, caribou, beaver and other wildlife.
Much of history is just this, too, in memory and honour of all those who came before us, often paving the way for the way things are now.
Working on this 6×8 foot mural, I was very touched with the fact that whilst filling in the names of the 45 who passed from this dreaded disease, it seemed that these people were just here yesterday, and now gone to the four winds.
Yet at the very least our local youth have this mural, to help those who have been lost live on in memory.
Mahsi, thank you.

Antoine Mountain

Antoine Mountain is a Dene artist and writer originally from Radilih Koe/Fort Good Hope. He can be reached at www.mountainarts.com.

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  1. I just came across your moving tribute to Rene Fumoleau,whose gentle sincere presence warmed us all in the 1970s when the Dene were starting to assert their rights and title. Rene Fumoleau reminded us of the power of humility.