MARY, Courtoreille




"Put yourself in Fred and Mary's moccasins." -- Chief Art Napoleon, Saulteau First Nations

Fred and Mary Courtoreille's memories of bush life and childhood in northeastern British Columbia between 1910 and 1930 are recorded in Roast Moose & Rosaries: Fred & Mary's Story (Moberly Lake, B.C.: Two Sisters Publishing, 1997), co-written with Terrance Armstrong and prepared by the Muskoti Learning Centre. The couple met at Moberly Lake and were later married in 1931. They recall the impact of Euro-Canadians since the turn of the 19th century in the Moberly Lake and Upper Peace region, especially the rigours and privations of residential schools. Home to the Dunne-za (Beaver) people, Moberly Lake is located 20 kilometres north of Chetwynd. Fred Courtoreille spoke only Cree until his late teens and never learned to read or write in English. "Fred asked me to teach him to read and write," she recalls, "...but I decided he was a bit sneaky so I didn't teach him. I knew if I did teach him to read and write he would be sneaking 'derr swet hart' letters to his girlfriends."

[BCBW 2004]