Angelique and Marguerite Nolin

Angelique and Marguerite Nolin were pioneers, well-educated Metis women who created the first Catholic school for Aboriginal girls in Manitoba.

Their mother was Metis and their father was a fur trader and merchant. They were educated in Montreal by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame. The family came to the Red River Settlement in 1819, from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Bishop Provencher asked the sisters to run the first formal Catholic school for Aboriginal girls in the area. At first the sisters refused but, in 1826, after the death of their father, Provencher asked again, and they opened the school in 1829. The school, the first of its kind for girls in Western Canada, educated Metis, French, Cree, Ojibwa and Scottish girls. The Nolin sisters ran the school until 1834, when they travelled with Father Belcourt to Baie St. Paul (St. Eustache) to start a school there that would integrate the Aboriginal and Metis way of life with a Catholic education.

Angélique and Marguerite were fluent in French, English, Ojibway and Cree. Their major achievement during the 10 years they worked with Belcourt was to help him write an Ojibwa dictionary and several other textbooks into Aboriginal languages.

In the 1840s, the sisters quit teaching and began farming, which they did until their deaths.

Marguerite died in September, 1878, and Angélique, on March 30, 1869, at St. Boniface.

Image: 

The Nellie McClung Foundation