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No. 75


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Memorable Manitobans: David Courchene (1926-1992)

Politician, aboriginal rights activist.

He was born into a long line of Aboriginal Chiefs on 1 April 1926 at Sagkeeng [Fort Alexander]. His early education took place at the Fort Alexander Residential School until he was expelled in grade 9 for refusing to go to daily confession. He worked as a hunter, trapper and heavy machine operator and was elected Chief of Sagkeeng in 1965.

In 1967 while taking a course in Ottawa Courchene was asked to help form the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood (MIB), and in 1968 he was elected the first president of the MIB. As President he focused on community development programs for Northern Manitoba, he also established lines of communication between the northern communities and Winnipeg. Under Courchene the MIB produced “Wahbung: Our Tomorrows” in response to Prime Minister Trudeau’s “White Paper”.

In 1970 he was the first Aboriginal person to receive a honourary doctorate from the University of Manitoba. The same year he received a Manitoba Centennial Medal from the Manitoba Historical Society. In 1971 he was the first person ever named Grand Chief of Manitoba. In 1987 he received the Order of Canada. He retired as President of the MIB in 1974.

Sources:

David Courchene, Notable Manitobans, Government of Manitoba.

This profile was prepared by Angela Graham.

Page revised: 10 July 2009

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