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Memorable Manitobans: Gontrian Laviolette (1911-1989)

Cleric.

Born at Clarence Creek, Ontario on 7 April 1911, he joined the Oblates in 1928 and was ordained at the Lebret Sacred Heart Scholasticate in 1934. He then served as vice-principal at Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School and as a missionary to the Dakota Sioux and Assiniboine in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. During his missions, he built chapels at Oak River Reserve, Griswold, Oak Lake and Pipestone, Manitoba. He learned the Dakota and Sioux tongues and published a book on Dakota Sioux hymns. In 1938, he established the Indian Record, which he managed and edited for fifty years, and later on, wrote his first book, The Sioux in Canada in 1944.

He served as Executive Secretary of the Oblete Father’s Indian and Eskimo Commission from 1951 to 1956 and travelled widely in his mission work. From 1957 to 1981, he was editor and manager of various periodicals, including the Western Sunday Visitor, the Manitoba edition of the Canadian Register and the monthly Canadian League magazine of the Catholic Women’s League. In 1965, he served as the President of the Winnipeg Indian-Métis Conference and was a co-founder of the Indian-Métis Friendship Centre of Winnipeg. He also was involved in the Pan-American Games in 1967 as a interpreter, having learned Spanish. He was a life member of the Priory of Canada of the Hospitallers, a member of the World Association for Christian Communication, and a member of the St. Boniface Historical Society.

He died at Winnipeg on 16 February 1989.

Sources:

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, Saturday, 18 February 1989, page 60.

This profile was prepared by Kris Keen.

Page revised: 21 October 2009

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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