Approximately twenty people attended the Société historique et généalogique de Smoky River AGM in Donnelly on May 10.
In her opening statement, Society President Carmen Ewing welcomed everyone and spoke briefly about the increasing challenge to recruit new members and new board members, and without compromising the society’s founding tenets of the society, the board and membership must acknowledge the change in demographics within the region.
The society is a research centre for genealogy and local history located in the Village of Donnelly. The mandate of the Society is the preservation and conservation of the French culture in the region. With the changing demographics, there has been discussion about serving newcomers also.
“We try not to just accommodate but to make everyone welcome and appreciated as a member of our society,” Ewing said. “We hope you understand opening our society and centre without losing the principals of the society’s founding members.”
The society’s resources continue to grow as it acquires new community books and additions to the genealogical library, such as a recently acquired extensive collection of genealogical information relating to families in the Smoky River region, which was donated by Emile Racan-Bastien.
Now open every day during for the summer season, the society offers some new, interesting services as it acquired a scanner that reads photographs and negatives.
The society also offers the service of transferring camera cassettes or VHS to CD and USB drive digital formats.
Following her opening remarks, Carmen Ewing introduced guest presenter Jan Laderoute, a Cree speaking, Metis storyteller and public speaker from Gift Lake.
Laderoute talked about her own personal family history and how the oral tradition served to preserve the annals of her family story and how it functions as a conduit connecting the present with the past.
Jen Laderoute told the story of her great-grandfather Billy Whitford, a full-blooded Blackfoot from southern Alberta who made his way to the Peace Country as part of a cattle drive and settled in the region towards the end of the 1800s.
The new Society Board appointed at the AGM are Diane Therriault, Yvonne Sawchyn, Wendy Gagnon, Liz Bohnke, Marie Guenette, Lucille Bussiere, Laurie Morin, Carona Dionne and Carmen Ewing stays on as President.