The life and influence of Albert Lacombe, also known as Father Lacombe, was celebrated by the school named after the French-Canadian Catholic missionary last Friday.
Students at Father Lacombe Catholic School in Lacombe celebrated the significant man through a day full of activities on Feb. 27th.
Father Lacombe, who lived from 1827 to 1916, lived among the Cree people and visited the Blackfoot First Nations in western Canada. He is remembered for having brought peace to the two First Nations and assisting with negotiations between the Blackfoot and the Canadian Pacific Railway.
“Father Albert Lacombe was the founder of the developed west and started Catholic schools to bring Christ to the First Nations people,” said Father Lacombe Catholic School Principal Denis Cote.
“He really brought peace to the west and it’s important for us to take time to celebrate. He’s our namesake.”
Cote added it was very rewarding for the students to experience the day and to bring the Catholic presence to the school.
The City of St. Albert was founded in 1861 by Father Lacombe as well as the City of Lacombe is also named in his honour.
Throughout the day, the students dressed up as either Father Albert Lacombe or as someone who may have lived during the time period when Father Lacombe was ministering.
First Nations ancestry was a main the focus of the day as well, with Métis storyteller Denise Miller engaging the students in a traditional drum song, a Cree story and the history of Father Albert Lacombe.
Miller told the students about the original people of Canada, the First Nations. She also said Father Albert Lacombe had two nicknames given to him from the First Nations people, ‘good heart’ and ‘the noble soul.’
Father Albert Lacombe was born in Saint-Sulpice on Feb. 28, 1827. His grandmother was Ojibwe, making him Métis, said Miller.
“He was the first priest to come to the prairies,” she said. “He opened the first flour mill. He did a lot of firsts.”
According to Alberta Culture and Tourism, Lacombe’s overall accomplishments are staggering.
“He established First Nation missions, served numerous Roman Catholic parishes, and founded new settlements. He mastered several First Nation languages and published dictionaries and prayer books in these dialects.
“During the upheavals of the 1880s, Father Lacombe was a peacemaker, resolving disputes between Aboriginals and the federal government and Canadian Pacific Railway.
“He (also) established the Lacombe Home in Midnapore and recruited the Sisters of Providence to administer care for the sick, the poor, and the aged at the site. Lacombe coordinated the construction of bridges and grist mills, of schools and churches.”
During the celebration last week, students also had the chance to make their own bannock, a traditional flat bread often consumed by First Nation’s people.
Feb. 28th marked the 188th anniversary of Lacombe’s birth as well.