Mission of the Province of Eastern Canada,

Among the approximately 700 Montagnais who lived in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Oblate presence: 1862-1909? Geographical Location: North shore of the St. Lawrence River (Province of Quebec)

At the request of the Amerindians and after lengthy efforts, Father Charles Arnaud, OMI, a missionary among the Montagnais, obtained permission from the Oblate Congregation to settle in Betsiamites and did so in November 1862.

In a letter to Father Fabre dated February 15, 1864, Father Jean-Marie Nédélec wrote: “Notre-Dame de Betsiamistes, having become the residence of the missionaries, was constituted “the capital of savagery”. It is the main meeting place for Indians during the summer, because the post is more central than Les Escoumins and less accessible to whites.”

In 1877, Father Arnaud provided Father Fabre with some other information on the work along the North Shore. Betsiamites became the centre of the Montagnais (Innu) missions and the main posts where the missionaries built chapels, including Godbout, Sept-Îles, Mingan on the north shore, Notre-Dame-des-Neiges at the bottom of Baie-des-Esquimaux and Pointe-Bleue on the shores of Lac Saint-Jean.

In addition to working with the Innu, Naskapi, Inuit and Whites, the Betsiamites missionaries visit the logging camps.

Father Arnaud was the main architect of this work.

Eugène Lapointe OMI