Monday, September 15, 2008

Aboriginal Pioneers of the Peace - Angelique IsKwesis

For those of you who missed out on our wonderful articles published in the Record Gazette, they will be re-posted here for your enjoyment. We will be posting one every day this week:
The "Aboriginal Pioneers of the Peace" is a feature written by Beth Wilkins, Curatorial Assistant and Researcher, in conjunction with the Museum's Treaty 8 Exhibit on display until the end of August. The articles have also been published on the Community Page of the Peace River Record-Gazette.

Angelique IsKwesis (Chickalee) – “A Real Friend”

PRMA 73.531.071

Chickalee was familiar to the people of Peace River. This short, determined Beaver Indian woman was often seen walking along Peace River streets wearing a long black dress, tied at the waist by a cord, a black hat and moccasins. She was in town on her way to purchase her meagre supplies from J.D. Levesque’s store. After her purchases and talking to J.D., who spoke Cree, one would see her sitting in front of his store smoking a pipe.

She was a mysterious soul, who suffered ridicule and harassment. With all of the disrespect shown her, she also commanded the friendship of others. “I forget how you say ‘real friend’ in Cree, but Chickalee did have a lot of them in the Peace River Country,” says columnist R.C. Colmer in an April 1984 newspaper article.

Angelique (Chickalee) was Number 28 to accept Treaty (8) with the Peace River Crossing Band in July 1899. There is speculation regarding the origin of the name Chickalee – some say it is a derivative of Pi-chickleese – good-natured – jolly, while others suggest it means “tiny one”.

Regardless, she was a woman of character.

She was married twice – first to Guillaume Bell in the mid-1800s – then, as his widow, married Jean Baptiste (Johnny) LePretre, July 5, 1914, at St. Augustine Mission, Shaftesbury Trail, about which there was a recollection of an auspicious occasion at which people from all over came by various means of transportation. There was even a gun salute and “much merry-making.”
Johnny died in 1923.

Chickalee, as far as is known bore only one child – Louise in 1893 – the first student to attend St. Augustine Mission School.

Angelique (Chickalee) IsKwesis Bell Le Pretre died at Hotel Dieu Hospital, Whitelaw, Dec. 23, 1958 – age 108. She rests in Peace River’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Sources: Peace River Remembers; Caron Riley; Record-Gazette

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