Rene Fumoleau, a well known and respected priest and activist for the Dene people, has died at age 93.

Fumoleau passed away in the late hours of Aug. 6 at his final residing place of Avens Cottages in Yellowknife on his birthday, according to longtime friends.

Fumoleau was a well-known Roman Catholic priest in several northern communities from the fifties to the nineties. During that period, he served in Fort Good Hope, Deline, Lutselk’e, and Yellowknife.

©NWT Archives/Rene Fumoleau /N-1995-002

Jim Lynn, a padre at North Slave Correctional Complex and secretary for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mackenzie Fort Smith, said he knew Fumoleau very well.

“He was a very down to Earth type of gentleman,” said Lynn. “There was no question he made a lot of contributions to the Dene and the North.

“He was a very thoughtful person and rational. He put a very straight forward kind of thinking towards why things were as they were.”

Lynn said this was why Fumoleau was committed to his deep research of Treaty 7 and 8 for the Dene people, which lead the publication to his book As Long As This Land Shall Last: A History of Treaty 8 and Treaty 11, 1870-1939.

“He made a very strong impact on the Dene community,” said Lynn. “He will be remembered as a beautiful soul who gave up himself to everyone.”

According to a Facebook post from the NWT Archives at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage centre, Fumoleau donated 15,000 photographs of the North and the communities.

Fumoleau produced books of photography during his time in the North and donated over 15,000 to NWT Archives.
Photo courtesy of NWT Archives.

“People are always asking to see his books of photographs and are amazed at the professionalism of them and recognize family and friends,” said Lynn.

“In that perspective, he’s going to be around for a long time yet.”

Lynn said there will be a public prayer gathering for Fumoleau in the coming week, but details are not yet confirmed.

More to come….

Brett McGarry

Brett McGarry came to Yellowknife in early 2019 after graduating from Humber College with an advanced diploma in journalism. After covering city council and local business as a reporter, Brett is now an...

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  1. Shocked to learn of his death. Never met the man but have his books and photo albums. ” Here I Sit “, a favorite. I use to canoe with Alex Hall, another legend, out of Fort Smith.