Dr. June Bruce
Dr. June Bruce was born in St. Laurent, Manitoba on June 14, 1947 to parents Roland Bruce and Annette Boudreau Bruce. She has two brothers and three sisters, and attended school in St. Laurent from Grade 1 to Grade 10, when she quit school to get married. In the course of her marriage, she had three children, Les, James and Shelley. Because of work shortage in Manitoba, the family moved to Alberta and stayed there for 30 years, from 1969 to 1999, but returned to St. Laurent in 1999. In late 1999, they moved back to Winnipeg. Because of her dreams to graduate from Grade 12, she went back to school in St. Laurent in 2010 and graduated with her diploma. That was about the time that she, along with four other local Michif women, started working on a Michif French dictionary. It took them five years to do this, as their Michif French was spoken but never written. The book was published in. Juen Bruce continues to be quite busy with teaching Michif French in her community, in Winnipeg and also in Selkirk, Manitoba. She along with The ladies also meet every week when possible to do some Michif crafts, ie: 100% wool moccasins, mitts, purses with embroidery and or beading.
In 2020, in recognition of their efforts to keep the culture and language alive, each of the Dictionary Ladies received their Honorary Doctorate for Doctors of Letters from University of Winnipeg in a special graduation ceremony.
As of 2020, June Bruce has 4 grand children, and 4 great grand-children. She says that her reasons for continuing to work with the Michif French is to keep our language and culture alive for her children, grand-children and great-grand children within the Metis community.
Jules Chartrand is a retired Métis born and raised in the Michif Community of Saint Laurent on Lake Manitoba. Besides French Canadian ancestry, he has ancestry among several western First Nation groups, i.e., the Cree, the Odjibway, Blackfeet, and Chipeweyan. He grew up speaking the Michif Language, which is a dialect of French, as spoken in St Laurent and all over the North West in Canada. In his youth, he worked with his father in commercial fishing and carpentry and haying for farmers. After high school, he worked for CN Rail as a telegapher, station agent, and in train traffic control.
Retiring early, he worked as a court clerk in Winnipeg and St Boniface. After taking a course in driving with the Reimer Driving School, he drove trucks long haul for several years. Jules always took an interest in the history of St Laurent, in the Métis and their language. At festivals in St Laurent he gave historical tours of the community and did the same for groups of tourists, teachers, and others coming to St Laurent. He also spoke in the schools at St Laurent to help preserve the history and language of the people. He was a member of the local St Laurent Theatre Group for over ten years. Jules has appeared in several documentaries, including A Diary of the Crow Wing Trail, by Lorne Chartrand and Nos Cousins Canadiens, by Berengere Casanova of Paris France, which was aired in France.
He continues to get involved in various works of art in the Francophone, Métis and elder communities, and competed this year in the Francophone seniors programs: “Coeur d’Artistes” where he did very well, telling tales of St Laurent!