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Tribute to Edwin St. Pierre at Honouring Our Heroes

By Karon Shmon, Director of Culture and Heritage

Nov 24, 2023

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November has a number of special days to the Métis. On November 8th, we observed National Indigenous Veterans Day, followed by Remembrance Day on November 11th, and Louis Riel Day on November 16th. As such, we called the week of events Louis Riel and Métis Veterans Honour Week through which we hold a number of cultural events.

This year, on November 15th, we held a special event at the Remai Modern in Saskatoon at which we screened the GDI film, Honouring Our Heroes, which engages the six Métis performing artists featured on the recordings that were made to raise funds for the National Métis Veterans Memorial Monument, now fully erected at the Batoche Festival Grounds. The event was complemented by readings from Gregory Scofield and entertainment from Donny Parenteau. Scofield read from his book, Louis the Heretic Poems while Parenteau performed some of the songs from the fundraising CD and several newer songs as well. It was an honour to pay tribute to our recently departed Métis veteran, Edwin St. Pierre who passed away in late September. Edwin’s widow, Harriet Oaks St. Pierre was invited to be a special guest as we honoured Edwin with a tribute delivered by Karon Shmon. 

I offer my sincerest condolences to Edwin’s family and friends. We are all going to miss him. I will remember him fondly and I wish to share a few of the highlights I find the most memorable.

Ed’s Work Ethic: This was simple for Ed; “try the best to do your best. Leave things better off than you found them.” That he did, while being a wonderful role model for the rest of us.

Edwin was a Proud Michif: Ed was enormously proud of his children and family (his late wife, Edna, was also a Michif language keeper, as is Harriet). He was proud of all of you. Edwin was proud of his own career accomplishments, of Harriet’s Michif contributions, and of her support to bring his book to completion. He was especially proud of being Michif.

Edwin’s Commitment to Service: Ed saw helping others as his purpose, setting a fine example for us all. He served our country and was a proud veteran with whom we worked for many special events such as Indigenous Peoples Day, Remembrance Day, and Louis Riel Day. There will be a huge void but we will always have him in our thoughts on these days. He continued his service as a government worker helping Métis and others join the workforce. He was a proud Michif and served as a Michif language keeper and storyteller with his biography. Ed’s upbringing was familiar to many Métis of his time and this memoir ensures younger generations will know that although life was hard, your outlook on your situation will help you remember the love

and good times.

Ed chose love and laughter as his lifestyle. Ed was almost always in a good mood and you could count on sharing many smiles and laughs with him. He was a gentle teaser, the best kind, a Métis way of showing affection and love to others.

His devotion to these ideals never waivered. At last year’s Louis Riel and Métis Veterans Day of Honour at Batoche National Historic Site, Edwin was once again our honoured veteran. He had frequently recited the poem “For the Fallen”, a 1914 work by Laurence Binyon, honouring fallen soldiers. I share this one stanza as it remains a vivid memory for me, from the many times Ed recited this at special events.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

I will think of Edwin any time I hear this poem and I will imagine him in his ball cap, cheering on the Blue Jays while sharing a few laughs and smiles. We will remember him.

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