Fr. Martin Michaud OMI
|Martin Michaud OMI|
Father Michaud OMI was born on January 31, 1922 at Fort Kent, Alberta, Canada.
He passed away on August 28, 2007.
When I was a boy, maybe 11 years old, my mother and father packed up the ’57 Dodge with about 8 or 9 of us kids and piles of supplies [I have no idea to this day how they did it] and took us on a road trip. My memory is a little sketchy as to the exact itinerary, but I distinctly remember that we left Maillardville, near Vancouver, BC, and headed north up highway 1 to 97 to Prince George where we spent some time with some family who lived there. I remember that we went as far north as Dawson Creek then headed east into Alberta to Edmonton, then south again to a place that stunned me and that I have never forgotten. As far as I can remember, the place was close to Trochu, Alberta, but I can’t guarantee that. It was an ‘Indian’ residential school and my ‘uncle’ Martin Michaud was the man in charge. It was summertime so all the ‘residents’ were away at the time with their families. Us kids [maybe all of us] slept in the dorm. I had no clue about the political significance of the place and others like it. I was struck particularly by the names of some of the kids that lived here during most of the year. I remember specifically two names: Johnny Born With A Tooth and Johnny Born With A Gun. I’m quite sure about these names because they were so distinctive. I found them so unusual, so foreign to me. How could anyone be called something like that?
But back to Martin Michaud. I didn’t really know him. I knew his brother, Father Guy Michaud, OMI, much better because I went to a private residential school in Edmonton, College St-Jean, a kind of prep school for the French Canadian boys (mostly) west of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. He worked there as director for a short period of time when I was there. My parents sent me there hoping that I would become a priest, but as it turns out, I became a sociologist instead. They tell me that I begged them to send me there because all of my friends were going. That may be, I really don’t remember. The point is, my experience at College St-Jean, where I got a superior, classical, education, was much different from Johnny Born With A Tooth’s experience at his residential school. As I said, I didn’t know Martin Michaud. But given what I know about Indian residential schools, at least as reported in Shingwauk’s Vision by J.R. Miller and What is the Indian ‘Problem.’ by Noel Dyck, among many other reports, and given the stories of pain and grief experienced by residents of the many residential schools in Canada, I wonder about what kind of a man Martin Michaud was. Noel Dyck points out that in many cases the people who worked in residential schools or as Indian Agents were people with the best of intentions. The religious personnel of these schools would have believed that the only way to salvation for the poor little Indian children in their care would have been to rescue them from their savage parents and cultures. This may have entailed using physical punishment to ‘beat the indian out of the child.’ I don’t know what kind of director Martin Michaud was. I’d like to know. Obviously, it’s been many years since the residential school I visited was shut down. I’m hoping there are survivors who can help me determine want kind of a man my ‘uncle’ was. If you have any information about Martin Michaud or the residential school he directed, please, I’d like to know. So far, my research hasn’t gotten me too far. I’m hoping you can help.