There's something about Mary
Mary Beauchamp honoured with achievement award for her work in social services

Catherine Gillis
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 31/00) - April 1 won't be any ordinary day for Mary Beauchamp.

After 34 years of dedicating her life to her work in health and social services Beauchamp will enter the world of retirement, a world she admits she's entering with mixed feelings.

"I don't want to retire any more! I've been with the board for 34 years now, and throughout my career I have had wonderful mentors that were very much involved with their work," Beauchamp says, adding, "Retirement was my husband's idea. He wants me to take a break from work and enjoy life."

Beauchamp chuckles when quoting her husband who says, "Take axe, and go to bush."

Officially retiring on April 1, Beauchamp moved to Yellowknife from her home town of Fort Providence when she was 12.

She finished her high school degree and thought that what she wanted to do was be a nurse. Instead, Mary started off her long-time career with the government in 1966 as the youngest case worker in the field. By 1974 she was advanced to the position of welfare worker. A year later she became a social worker before moving up to co-ordinator of child welfare in 1990.

"I've been lucky to work in one area," says Beauchamp, who adds her Metis heritage has also been a benefit.

"Over the years, having worked with the Dene, Metis and Inuit people has given me a good understanding of the culture, customs, traditions and values of aboriginal people."

By 1995 Beauchamp became a consultant of adoptions.

The most important part of Beauchamp's job is to reunite families and do searches for the people who want to be reunited with a biological family member.

Mary says it is very difficult to not get too involved in the lives of others, but at the same time getting involved is one of the job requirements.

Extremely sensitive

"My job is extremely sensitive, very emotional, and sometimes stressful," Beauchamp says.

"When someone comes into my office asking me to find a family member for them, I must tell them three things. Number 1, the person they are looking for might be deceased, number two, they might not want to be found, and number three I might not be able to find them."

"A search can take one week or it can take up to 10 years, but I make my best effort to find someone in the search."

In the last 10 years Beauchamp has made at least 200 successful reunions.

Beauchamp has two daughters: Nicole and Janelle, who was adopted at nine months old.

Janelle, now 30 years old, is married and has two children of her own.

Beauchamp's family is very keen on the fact that she is retiring soon.

"I don't want to retire, but I am looking forward to spending more time with my two grandchildren."

Beauchamp, who received a lifetime achievement award from the department on Jan. 6, says she would also like to do some volunteer work, explaining that she hasn't really been able to commit to that kind of effort in the past.

As for her biggest accomplishment, Beauchamp is quick to say, "Still being sane, being positive about what I do for work and still enjoying it."