UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The exceptional-typical history of a Métis Elder in Fort St. John Dolmage, Erin


This research is focussed on the collection and analysis of oral histories and diaries of Fort St. John Métis Elder May Barrette. By delving into May’s life through oral histories, personal diaries, and other archival research, I am constructing a microhistorical biography of one exceptional-typical woman’s life to contribute to a more comprehensive history of Métis women in north-eastern British Columbia and the Peace River country. This research looks at diaries and oral histories as historical sources, and explores the details of May’s life and her stories about women in the community. May’s own accounts of her childhood, coming to the Peace River as a pioneer, leaving to pursue an education, returning to start a family and taking on a self described role as a “diary keeper,” exemplifies the significance of a microhistorical subject. The life of an exceptional-typical individual, like May, offers historians a window into the experiences of women in one of the last pioneer areas in Canada. Her voice, telling individual as well as community stories, is doubly-relational; May’s life story touches not just on the broader issues affecting her and her family, but also those of women in the Peace and her community as a whole. Through sharing her diaries and stories May made sure that these stories would not just continue to be told and after she was gone, but that the stories of the women in Fort St. John were treated as a valuable part of the area’s history.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International