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Katy Sanderson

Katy Sanderson was born 27 October 1912, in the area between two Alberta communities called Athabasca Landing and Waterways. The two communities would each change their names as Katy grew up. Athabasca Landing would become Athabasca, while Waterways would become Fort McMurray. She was the daughter of a proud bushland tradition. Her mother, Mary Rose LaPoudre (“Granny” Powder), was a respected traditional midwife and healer. Both her parents, while pursuing a traditional trapping lifestyle, also worked occasionally in the community of House River which is north of Athabasca Landing.

In 1922, Katy moved with her family to Fort McMurray, and was schooled in the world of traditional hunting and trapping. She would work the traplines all her life, although when she was eleven and twelve years old she sewed bags for salt at a salt plant about three kilometres outside of Fort McMurray.

Katy married George Sanderson, a hunter and trapper from Fort McMurray, and for years worked on a trapline with him in the vicinity of the Fort McMurray airport. After George’s death in 1973, Katy continued to work the traplines alone. Katy was witness to many changes in the northwest bushlands. She worked in the Nistowyou Association in Fort McMurray and promoted better understanding of Aboriginal culture to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people alike.

Like many traditional hunters and trappers, Katy was dismayed at the encroachment of urban development into the land that was licensed for her to use as a trapline. As Fort McMurray grew as a community, housing projects pressed into the trapline land she had worked at all her life. Where trees once surrounded her trapline cabin, a road between Fort McMurray and its airport was built. In spite of the changes, she continued to trap where she could on the remaining land until her death in 1994.

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