The Monette Monument has been restored and once again stands tall at 5690 Highway 64. The community held a re-dedication ceremony on July 19th to unveil the monument and help residents to “heal from the vandalism and the hurt that it caused,” said Heather Fryer, the treasurer of the West Nipissing Historical Society.
The mayor of the Municipality of French River, Gisele Pageau, attended the ceremony, and the Municipality provided financial assistance to restore the monument. Richard Meilleur of Metis Families of West Nipissing was also there and led those gathered in a smudging ceremony.
It was only two years ago—on August 27, 2020—that the Monette Monument was first unveiled. The monument commemorates Cyrille and Odile Monette, who were the first settlers in the area. The village of Monetville is named after them, and many of their descendants live there still. On November 8th, 2021, the monument was vandalized—chained up and pulled to the ground— “a cruel act,” noted Fryer on social media the day after the discovery was made.
The monument was brought to life by the West Nipissing Historical Society with much support from the Municipality of French River and the Municipality of West Nipissing. Many community members also pitched in to make the monument a reality, and the fundraising efforts went on for about three years.
Once knocked over, everyone went back to work to restore it, and now the monument is back. A bench has also been installed, which was purchased with funds donated by the Monette Family. Fryer noted that about 50 people came out for the event and emphasized how the smudging ceremony acknowledged “the need for forgiveness, understanding, and guidance for those who damaged the monument last year” while giving praise “for the value of community.”
“It was an honour to have so many elder members of the Monette family present” at the event, Fryer said.
David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.