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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
James Patrick Brady
James "Jim" was born to James Brady Sr. and Philomena Garneau in St-Paul-des-Métis on March 11, 1908. James Sr. was a Dominion land agend, postmaster and storekeeper of Irish descent, while Philomena was one of the first Métis nurses in the area. His grandfather, Lawrence Garneau, played an important role in shaping Brady’s future, sharing with him stories of his involvement with the Métis in the resistances of 1870 and 1885.
During the 1920s, Brady worked as a labourer and became a staunch advocate of Aboroginal rights. He also developed the foundations for his future career as a political activist and supporter of democratic socialism. By the early 1930s, Brady had found his calling and joined Felix Callihoo, Peter Tomkins, Joe Dion and Malcolm Norris to form the "Fabulous Five." They worked to organize Alberta’s Métis politically, petitioned the government to study the condition of the province’s Métis, and founded the Métis Association of Alberta. As a result of aggressive lobbying on the part of the Fabulous Five, the Halfbreed Commission, also known as the Ewing Commission, was appointed in 1934 to begin addressing Métis issues. Thanks to the findings of the Commission, the Alberta government passed the Métis Betterment Act in 1938, providing Alberta's Métis with land and social welfare programs.
Brady was initially refused entry into the Canadian Army when World War Two (WWII) broke out, possibly because of his involvement with communist organizations. However, he battled the government until 1943, and was finally accepted. After the war, Brady moved to Northern Saskatchewan, were he worked for the Department of Natural Resources before becoming a prospector in La Ronge. He continued to advocate for Western Canada’s Métis people, and in 1964, formed a Métis Association in La Ronge. Three years later, Brady and his partner disappeared while prospecting in Northern Saskatchewan. He was never found, but he left behind valuable diaries, correspondences and photographs that have helped historians to recreate a picture of his activities and those of his colleagues.
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