Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Joseph George Albert Chartrand (1929-2004)

Community activist.

Born at The Pas on 11 July 1929, son of Joseph Rene Chartrand (1876-1961) and Helen Travis (?-?), he spent 25 years serving his country as a member of the Armed Forces in Korea, Germany, Cyprus, Egypt, and at home. With his wife Beverly Olga Hughes, he had four children. After their divorce, he married Margaret Nicol Sealey in 1976.

Upon his retirement to the public sector in 1972, he joined the Manitoba Métis Federation and became the Director of Education. He was a driving force behind planning, developing and establishing the Native Education Branch of the Manitoba Department of Education. He then became the chief court communicator for the Province of Manitoba, a service developed to assisting aboriginal people to negotiate the cultural barriers of the court system. In 1973, he planned and developed his own company called the Native Clan Organization (NCO) to assist aboriginal offenders who were or had been incarcerated. He introduced into Manitoba prisons the first aboriginal liaison workers, counseling by Elders, and culturally specific programming for aboriginal offenders.

In conjunction with the NCO, he developed a parole supervision program called Project Neecheewam for juvenile corrections; Regina House, a halfway house for aboriginal offenders on parole; the Forensic Behavioural Management Clinic for sexual offenders; the Project for Industrial Native Training for the manufacture of fibreglass canoes; and later, Weathercheck, a cellulose-insulation manufacturing company. He initiated Project Rene, which took offenders out of the provincial jails and provided them with employment skills and life skills. He was also instrumental in advancing the idea of the electronic monitoring of non-violent individuals sentenced by the courts, thereby decreasing the populations of Canadian prisons. He was also a member of the Royal Commission on Sentencing Reform in Canada.

After his second retirement in 1990, he was appointed to the National Parole Board of Canada, serving in the Prairie Region for three years. After that, he acted as a consultant to various organizations and provincial and federal government departments. As a pioneer in the services offered to aboriginal offenders, he was duly recognized and honoured on numerous occasions by the Governments of Canada and Manitoba as well as by aboriginal peoples. Outside of his involvement in community, he became an accomplished wood carver, specializing in birds and animals. His art won him honours at various levels and resulted in his pieces being displayed in prominent locations in the country. Throughout his life he was an avid hunter and outdoorsman.

He died at Winnipeg on 16 July 2004 and was buried in The Pas Lakeside Cemetery.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 31 July 2004.

Joseph George Albert Chartrand, Thomas Albert Chartrand family tree, Ancestry.

This page was prepared by Lois Braun.

Page revised: 27 November 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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