Home Town or Home Community:
Wollaston Lake, SK
Gathering together to see a movie during the winter of 1979-80 was a special event for the villagers of Wollaston Lake. Before electricity and television had come to the northern community, movies were shown in the coffee shop having its own electrical generator. The movie brought in for the occasion was “The Song of Bernadette”. The story of Our Lady of Lourdes and Bernadette Soubirous opened a desire for a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. Five Native ladies urged their pastor, Father Jean Megret, O.M.I, to take them.
During lent of 1980, Annie Benaouni, Genevieve Besskkaytssare, Marie Joseyounen, Flora Natomagan and Eldzina Sha-oulle travelled from the north for the first time in their lives. Travelling with Father Megret they went to Paris, spent five days at Lourdes and four days in Brittany with Father’s family. While in Lourdes the ladies talked about building a small grotto at home and purchased a statue of Bernadette.
In the spring of 1981, the ladies designed and completed their grotto. A madonna was ordered from Bourassa’s in Saskatoon. Local villagers joined in building their small grotto in front of St. Adrien Church on the main street. Archbishop Paul Dumouchel, OMI came for the first pilgrimage and blessed the grotto July 12, 1981.
The Dene have a deep love and trust of their Heavenly Mother, Mary. They stop at the grotto to pray when walking by and pray the rosary before masses. In a community of 650 Catholics, daily mass attendance is very high; approximately two hundred people in the summer and fifty people during the winter months. Ninety-five per cent of the mission attend Sunday Masses. Sundays, even in the worst conditions of winter, the people stop at the grotto after mass to pray and sing.
After the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes of Wollaston Lake was built other missions also followed. Small shrines were built at Canoe Lake, Lac Brochet and Brochet.
Dr. Joseph Lozinsky and Heather A. Kolla, ” Mary as Mother” (St. Peter’s Press, June 1987, revised July 1987)