NORTH STAR: The Legacy of Jean-Marie Mouchet now available!

John Firth

NORTH STAR: The Legacy of Jean-Marie Mouchet now available!

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“He was a man who had a purpose when he came among our people. He was very gentle with his purpose. He had a vision. He saw we had something that nobody else did. He gave us gifts which we remember to this day and still use. He changed us. He changed us for the better.” 

—Raymond Yakeleya, residential school survivor, filmmaker, Dene Elder


Alone one winter night in a log cabin in the late 1940s, Jean-Marie Mouchet was waiting for his water to boil and started thinking about why he was there and how he could make a difference that mattered. 

He was a Catholic missionary in Canada’s North and could see the negative effect the Europeans were having on the Indigenous population. Wanting to do something about it, he resolved to help Indigenous youth reconnect with the land and their traditional values yet provide them with a means to adapt to the social and cultural change that was on the horizon. 

He started something simple – a skiing program. The individual and snow in harmony.

Jean-Marie’s Territorial Experimental Ski Training (TEST) program yielded multiple Olympians, made cross-country skiing the fastest-growing winter sport in Canada, and placed both Northern and Canadian skiers on the cross-country skiing world stage. Over the next 60 years it also produced many leaders who helped guide Northern First Nations into the 21st Century and is credited with saving the lives of many residential school survivors.