Brief History



Board Members

The current Board is made up of the following people: 2013
Ms. Audrey Breaker- Chair
Mr. Victor Buffalo
Mr. Chester Cunningham
Ms. Joyce First Rider
Father Garry LaBoucane, omi
Ms. Fern Welch
Fr. Garry LaBoucane OMI




FOR SEVERAL DAYS each July, thousands of pilgrims make their way to the shores of Lac Ste. Anne. Many come in search of healing and spiritual renewal. Some simply come to reconnect with old acquaintances and forge new friendships. This pilgrimage, which began over a hundred years ago, has become the largest annual Catholic gathering in Western Canada.

The history of the lake stretches back to the distant past. Here Native families, who in the fall had scattered to winter camps and trap lines, gathered in the summer for the buffalo hunt. The Crees called the lake Manito Sakahigan" or "Spirit Lake". The Sioux living nearby named it "Waka Mne" or Holy Lake.

The Mission

In 1841 a local Métis named Piche asked Bishop Provencher in far off St Boniface to send a priest to live among them. Priests were scarce. Bishop Provencher had only four priests to minister to a territory that stretched from Ontario to the Rocky Mountains. Still, the next spring he sent Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault to make an exploratory trip.  In 1844, a small shack was built to house Fr. Thibault and a young priest named Joseph Bourassa. Fr. Thibault immediately blessed the lake and renamed it Lac Ste Anne. This was in fulfillment of a promise he had made to give her name to the first mission he would 'father'. It was the first permanent Catholic mission west of Winnipeg.

The Oblates

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate are a society of Catholic missionaries. Founded in France in the early 1800's, they are especially dedicated to preach the Gospel to the poorest of the poor and to serve in the most difficult of missions.  With the coming of the Oblates, such as Father Lacombe, the Mission enjoyed a period of great growth and importance. These men quickly gained a reputation for bravery, goodness and holiness. In plagues, they cared for the sick and comforted the dying, asking nothing in return. They worked for peace between warring parties and brought an end to the fighting. They preached the Gospel everywhere and many came to believe in Christ.

Father Remas especially had a reputation for great holiness. Once, when the men were fishing on the lake and suddenly threatened by a violent storm, their wives fearing for their lives ran to get Fr. Remas. The priest went to the shore and commanded the storm and the angry lake to be calm. He sprinkled it with holy water and immediately all became still.

The Pilgrimage

By 1887 the buffalo had disappeared and the lake lost its importance as a gathering place. Most of the population moved away and the mission was almost deserted. Its pastor Father Lestanc made the decision to close the mission. Then, on his first holiday back home to France in thirty years, he paid a visit to the Shrine of St. Anne d'Auray.  He later related that while in prayer at this Shrine, God revealed to him in a powerful way that he must not close the mission. Rather, he must build a shrine there in honor of St. Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. It would be a place for pilgrims to come and receive spiritual help. Fr. Lestanc was deeply moved and, on his return lost no time in carrying out what God had revealed to him. The first pilgrimage was held in 1889 with several hundred attending. It soon became an annual event, drawing people from all directions and many nations.

From these humble beginnings the pilgrimage today has grown into one of the most unique spiritual events in North America. The lake once again became a place of meeting, a place where once traditional enemies now gather as friends under the Sign of the Cross. As many as 30,000 people attend on any single day. Here the old and the new are blended together. It is possible to see racks of meat and fish drying alongside modern campers and motorhomes. And always, in the background, the sound of hymns and prayers and worship.


On July 26, 2000, in the year of the great Jubilee, the Missionary Oblates made a public declaration of intention to enter into a new partnership with the aboriginal people to own, direct, and operate the Lac Ste Anne Pilgrimage. The Oblates invited individuals who share these beliefs and who supported the mission and vision of the LSA pilgrimage to ensure that the legacy and sacredness of the pilgrimage site continue for generations yet unborn.

To this end, lay individuals were added to the Board of the LSA Company to help organize and plan the annual pilgrimage.  The LSA Trust was established in July 2003. (A trust is a legal structure whereby the Trustees are obligated to manage the assets within the objects of the Trust documents). The Oblates transferred the lands and the operating company to this Trust. The Trust is composed of The Provincial of the Oblates (or his designate) the Archbishop of Edmonton, three first Nations Catholics (from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territory) and one Catholic Métis.

The objects of the trust are to:

  • Encourage and support aboriginal people to direct and operate the Pilgrimage

  • To preserve, enhance, strengthen, and facilitate the spiritual nature of the Pilgrimage, its site and facilities
  • To provide an environment where all peoples may express their Catholic faith
  • To promote growth and healing in all stages of life
  • To invite individuals, who share the beliefs and who support the mission and vision of the Pilgrimage, to ensure that the legacy and sacredness of the Pilgrimage site continues for generations yet unborn


1. Wayaw ôhci e-natamo-totatahk; Osâm mana e-waneyihtamahk.

    Kiya nâspic e-kisewâtisiyân;. Miyo Saint Anne nisohkamawinan.

CH: Ota mamâwi etasiyâhk;  Miyo Saint Anne wi-mamihcimatahk.(2x)

2. Nohkominan ki-mawimostatinan; Omatowihk ka-miyweyihtakwahk;

    Nitehinahk e-mamisi-totatahk; Miyo Saint Anne wi-natohtawinan.

3. Kinwes eka wet-awasimisiyan; Piyis maka ki-miyikowisin.

    Kanaci-Mary wiya ka-okosisit. Manitowa-Pemacihiweyit.

4. Kwayask tahki e-ki-kisteyimiskwaw; Ota askihk Jesus mina Mary.

    Wawis anohc kisikohk e-ayayan; Miyo Saint Anne, itwestamawinan.



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