Portrait of Marie Gillette Banne by Mary Becker Weiss

Mary Becker Weiss remembers her Canadian foremothers

Stories of the courage, sacrifice, and resilience of women are embedded in so many of our family lineages. When I put out the call for stories, Mary responded with this deeply affecting remembrance of her foremothers. Interestingly, Mary’s ancestry goes back to the town of Trois-Rivieres and Montreal in Quebec, Canada. The image, below, is a painting that represents the arrival of the young girls who were brought over from France between 1663 and 1673 to help populate the new land.

The Arrival of the French Girls at Quebec, a painting by Charles William Jefferys depicts the arrival of the Fille du Roi (“daughters of the king”), approximately 852 young girls between the ages of 12 and 15 who immigrated to New France (Quebec, Trois-Rivieres and Montreal) as part of a program sponsored by King Louis XIV to boost the French population and number of families. Mary’s 10th great grandmother was 13 years old at the time of her arrival.

Mary’s 10th Great-Grandmother Gillette Banne

Mary writes, “When I was a young girl my grandmother Lillian Becker showed me what maternal devotion looked like. Years later by her example a family friend Jamel Shapley inspired in me fearlessness and unconditional love. Most recently Joanne Arnold taught me renewed perception and gratitude.” She continues, “It is my 10th great grandmother who has inspired me most passionately. In 1672 she sacrificed her own life to protect her young daughter from harm. History labeled her a villain. Some called her a saint. I see her as having passed down through several generations of her descendants an example of uncompromising courage, devotion, and unconditional love. I am most grateful to Gillette Banne for having given us life.”

Mary Becker Weiss, Brunswick Maine Artist, Assemblage and Collage www.marybeckerweiss.blogspot

Stories of Our Foremothers is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts https://mainearts.maine.gov/