Senior Student Zone: Biographies
Many and more Aboriginal notables are represented on the Canadian Aboriginal Newspaper site at
http://www.ammsa.com/windspeaker/index.htm. Choose the link “People of Honour.”
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Joseph and Josephine Crowshoe
Both Joseph and Josephine are respected traditional spiritual leaders of the Piikani First Nation in Southern Alberta. Aged 92 and 81 respectively in 2001, they have lived on their family farm for a number of years raising 11 children. Joseph is a member of the Anglican Clergy and keeper of the Siksika short thunder medicine bundle. Josephine is the keeper of the Sun Dance medicine bundle. They are the only remaining traditional Piikani Elders of the Nation. They have worked to preserve their
culture and bridge the gap between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal People of Alberta. Joseph worked extremely hard to preserve and develop the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump site in Southern Alberta and edited a Siksika language dictionary produced by the University of Lethbridge. During the 1950s, Josephine organized a children’s lunch program on her reserve and in 1989, Joseph received the Alberta Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sharon and Shirly Firth
The Firth twins were born in Aklavik, NWT, but grew up in Inuvik. There they led a traditional lifestyle, often helping their father with his trap lines. They learned to ski from Father Mouchet a local priest, and discovered they had a natural talent for cross-county skiing. They represented Canada in four consecutive Winter Olympics and dominated women’s cross-country skiing from 1972 to 1984. In total, they won a combined 48 Canadian championships.
Chief Dan George
Chief Dan George, a member of the Salish Band, was born in 1899 in British Columbia. His Salish name was Geswanouth Slahoot. Chief Dan George devoted himself to improving the understanding of Aboriginal
culture. He worked as a dockworker and logger until he was 60 and was Chief for the Tslieil-Waututh Band from 1951 to 1963. His acting career began at age 59, and in 1970, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the movie “Little Big Man.”
Elijah was born at Red Sucker Lake in northern Manitoba in 1949. He was Chief for three years and became the first Treaty First Nations person elected as a provincial politician. He served as a member of parliament from 1981-1992. His provincial government positions included Minister of Native Affairs and Minister of Northern Affairs. Elijah is known for refusing to support the Meech Lake Accord, as it did not guarantee Aboriginal rights. His refusal prevented the Accord from becoming law. He organized the Sacred Assemblies of 1995 and 1997, which brought together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal People from across Canada to find a spiritual basis for healing and understanding. For his efforts, Elijah was recognized with the Stanley Knowles Humanitarian Award in 1991 and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 1996.
Tomson Highway was born in Manitoba. His first language is Cree and he is an esteemed playwright, novelist, and children’s author. Highway holds a Bachelors degree in Music as well as English. He is the recipient of three honorary degrees. In 1994, he received the Order of Canada and in 2000,
Maclean’s magazine listed him as one of the top 100 most important people in Canada.
Waneek Horn is a member of the Kahnawake Mohawk First Nation located near Montreal, Quebec. She began competitive swimming at age seven and in 1989 joined her high school’s water polo team. An exceptional athlete, her accomplishments include winning a gold medal at the 1999 Pan Am Games and participating as co-captain of the water polo team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Waneek graduated from Carlton University in 1999 with a political science degree. While in university, she won the title Female Athlete of the Year three times. She also works part-time as a Television host for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
Tom was born in Saskatchewan and grew up in Alberta. He later moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he lived as a homeless person. Tom had been involved in singing and acting from an early age, so performance appeared to him to be a natural career path. Tom received a Genie Award for his role in the television series “North of 60.” His experience living on the street led him to form the Christmas and Winter Relief Association that raises funds for homeless people. Tom received the International Humanitarian Award for his work in