Clarence Campeau was born in 1947 into a family of 11 and grew up living along a road allowance near Algrove, just north of the community of Archerwill in northeast Saskatchewan. When the provincial government decided to break up road allowance communities, forcing them onto Métis farms in the early 1950s, the Campeau family promptly left and returned to Algrove. It’s believed that Campeau’s spirit of resistance and desire for social justice may have been sparked by this event.
At age 18, Campeau turned his life around for the better when alcohol was no longer part of it. He then met Napoleon LaFontaine, who was a great inspiration to him, encouraging Campeau to become involved with the Métis Society of Saskatchewan. Campeau started a career as an addictions worker and in just five years, Campeau became the youngest area director of Eastern Region II – a post he held for 24 years.
As an area director, Campeau had a vision not only for his region but also the Métis people as a whole. It is said he never judged people as he knew everyone faced challenges in their lives and he gave people a chance to live up to their potential.
Campeau was a strong leader who believed the Métis, from their very beginnings, were great business people. His vision was built upon what he believed were the inherent strengths of grassroots people. He always sought the opinions of people living in his region in order to better understand how they perceived the future. This dedication to his people, made him well-respected across the province.
Cited as a great negotiator, Campeau often dealt with many government officials. While working at the Gabriel Dumont Institute, Campeau became friends with his superior Donavon Young, the institute’s director of research and policy. Young remembered Campeau as a true leader, always putting his community’s interest before personal ones.
Shortly after Campeau’s passing at age 49, Young, who was negotiating on behalf of the provincial government to create a Métis economic development foundation, suggested the name Clarence Campeau Development Fund as a means of honoring Campeau’s hard work.
The Clarence Campeau Development Fund has been successfully serving Saskatchewan’s Métis business community for over 22 years, which has created a huge impact on Saskatchewan as a province!