Faces of the aboriginal community


Born in 1737 at the Prince of Wales fort, he was taken in by the chief factor to live there after his father died. He became a “leading Indian” of Churchill and became the middleman between the Hudson’s Bay Co. traders and the aboriginal people. He guided Samuel Hearne to the Coppermine River in the Northwest Territories from 1770 to 1772 and was credited with making the expedition a success because he helped the explorers live off the land. He committed suicide in 1782 after he witnessed the French destroy the fort.


Chief Peguis

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Chief Peguis

He was born in 1774 near present-day Sault Ste. Marie before leading his people west to settle at Netley Creek. He was a friend to the Selkirk Settlers and warned Governor Semple about plans by the Nor’westers to destroy the Red River Settlement, advice that Semple ignored, costing him and 20 others their lives at the Battle of Seven Oaks. Peguis later helped Lord Selkirk make treaties with the Cree and Saulteaux and was presented with a treaty medal for his help. He later was given an annual pension from the Hudson’s Bay Co. A missionary persuaded Peguis and some of his people to settle in the St. Peter’s area north of present-day Selkirk. After being baptized into the Anglican Church, he took the name William King, and his children used the last name Prince. He died in 1864.


Cuthbert Grant

He was born in 1793 in what is now Saskatchewan. His his mother was aboriginal and his father Scottish and a partner in the North West Co. He moved to Montreal after his father died in 1799 and returned with the North West Co. to be in charge of an outpost on the Qu’Appelle River in 1812. He was a leader of the Métis. He led the Bois-Brules at the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816 and was sent to Montreal the next year to face murder charges. After being cleared, he went west again and was later employed by the Hudson’s Bay Co. He built one of the first water mills on the Assiniboine River until he received a grant of land at present-day St. Francois Xavier to found a settlement known as Grantown, where several Métis joined him. He died in 1854 and is buried in the church in St. Franßois Xavier. Grant Avenue is named for him and Grant’s Old Mill is a recreation of his mill.


William Kennedy

He is known today as the captain in the former Captain Kennedy’s Tea House, now the Maple Grove Tea Room in Kennedy House. He was born in 1813 to a Hudson’s Bay Co. chief factor and an aboriginal woman. He was educated in Orkney, Scotland, and was later employed by the HBC. He left the HBC to go into business for himself and later commanded two of the search expeditions for Sir John Franklin, discovering the Bellot Strait and being the first to use dogs and sleds from an exploring ship. He settled in the house along the Red River in 1861 and was a founding member of the Historical Society of Manitoba. He died in 1890.



He first came to the Hudson’s Bay Co. post in Churchill in 1824. He joined Capt. John Franklin’s overland expedition in 1825 and then joined the HBC in 1827, where he helped open trade to the Inuit. He helped interpret for the Peter Dease and Thomas Simpson expedition in 1839 to the Mackenzie and Coppermine rivers and then for the John Rae expedition in 1846. He always maintained his identity as an Inuit, refusing to go to church and always insisting at least one other Inuit had to go on an expedition with him. Ooligbuck Point in the Northwest Territories is named in his honour. He died in 1852.


James McKay

He was a politician. He was born in 1828 at Edmonton House, educated at the Red River Settlement and was hired by the Hudson’s Bay Co. He was appointed to the Council of Assiniboia in 1868 and then served as a member of the Manitoba Legislative Council until 1876. From 1871 to 1874, he served as Speaker and then agricultureminister after re-election in 1877. He was a founder of the Winnipeg Board of Trade. He died in 1879.


Louis Riel

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Louis Riel

He was born in St. Boniface in 1844 and is considered the founder of Manitoba. He was educated at the Red River Settlement and the College of Montreal. Returning to the Red River Settlement, he became involved in the issue of possible Canadian annexation of the settlement and ended up leading the Métis opposition. He became president of the National Committee of the Métis, and under his leadership, a provisional government was formed. Because of the execution of Thomas Scott, Riel was forced to flee into the United States. Even though he was elected MP for Provencher in both 1873 and 1874, he couldn’t take his seat. He was granted amnesty as long as he stayed in the U.S. for five years. He was asked by settlers in Saskatchewan to lead them against the Canadian government in 1884, culminating in the North-West Rebellion a year later. After the defeat at Batoche, he was tried for treason and hanged. He was buried in the St. Boniface Cathedral Cemetery and is commemorated by a Manitoba holiday in February and Riel Avenue.


William Berens (Tabasigizikweas)

He was born in 1866, the son of Chief Jacob Berens. He was chief of the Berens River First Nation from 1917 until he died in 1947. He allowed an anthropologist to work in his community during the 1930s, so the world learned about his people’s history and culture. He helped open commercial fishing on Lake Winnipeg to aboriginals. During the Second World War, he created controversy by refusing to let his people join the military. Instead, he allowed them to alleviate labour shortages by working on farms to harvest crops.


Angelique and Marguerite Nolan

The sisters were born in the 1800s in Sault Ste. Marie and were educated by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame in Montreal. After the pair returned here, Bishop Provencher asked them to run the first formal Catholic school for aboriginal girls here. The school opened in 1829, and they ran it until 1834. They then travelled back to Quebec, where they started another school to integrate the aboriginal and Métis way of life with a Catholic education. They also worked there and translated an Ojibwa dictionary and several other textbooks into aboriginal languages.


Frances Nickawa

She was born in 1898 and baptized Fanny Beardy. She was adopted by a teacher from England who worked at the residential school in Norway House. The pair moved to Vancouver, where she studied elocution and won medals at contests organized by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. She toured, giving lectures and performing legends and character portrayals of aboriginal people. She died of tuberculosis in 1928.


Tommy Prince

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Tommy Prince

Tommy Prince

He was born in 1915 and was the grandson of Chief Peguis. He was a member of the legendary Devil’s Brigade fighting unit in the Second World War and was decorated with 10 medals, becoming the country’s most decorated aboriginal soldier of the Second World War. He served again in the Korean War. In later life, he lived in poverty and died in 1977.


Elsie Bear

She was born in Grand Marais in 1921. She moved to Selkirk and worked for the town for 20 years also volunteering at the Selkirk Friendship Centre and the Manitoba Métis Federation. She held an annual Christmas dinner for the needy that routinely fed 200 people. She was a senator with the Manitoba Métis Federation. She was honoured with the Order of the Buffalo Hunt and was named Selkirk Woman of the Year. She died in 2002.


David Courchene

He was born in 1926 at Sagkeeng and went to the residential school there. He worked various jobs in the community until being elected chief in 1965. He helped form the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood and was elected its first president in 1968, focusing on community development programs for northern Manitoba and communication between Winnipeg and northern communities until retiring in 1974. He was the province’s first grand chief in 1971. He was the first aboriginal person to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Manitoba, and he received the Order of Canada in 1987. He died in 1992.


Jean Goodwill

She was born in 1928 and spent part of her childhood in the tuberculosis sanatorium in Saskatchewan. She was the first aboriginal to receive a nursing degree at the Holy Family Hospital in Prince Albert. She worked as a nurse, then went on to develop aboriginal organizations. She served as executive director of the Indian-Métis Friendship Centre in Winnipeg and head of the department of Indian health studies at the University of Regina. She was given the Jean Goodwill Award by the Manitoba Indian Nurses Association, an award created in her honour. Goodwill died in 1997.


Gladys Cook

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Gladys Cook

Gladys Cook

She was born at the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation in 1929 and suffered abuse as a child at the Elkhorn Residential School. When she was 16, she began working as a housekeeper in a hospital in South Dakota. After getting married, she returned to Manitoba and later became a drug- and alcohol-abuse counsellor for the Friendship Centre and co-ordinator of the national native alcohol and drug abuse program. She also worked with numerous organizations, including Agassiz Youth Centre, Alcoholics Anonymous and Alateen. She was awarded many honours, including the Governor General’s Award, the Order of Manitoba, the Canada 125 medal for outstanding citizenship and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award. She died in 2009 and is commemorated by the Gladys Cook Educational Centre.


Dorothy Betz

She was born at Pine Creek Reserve in 1929 and attended residential school until she was 18. She pioneered the first native court communicators program by using her Ojibwa language to help aboriginals understand the law and the court system. She was appointed the Canadian delegate to the fifth United Nations Congress in Geneva, Switzerland, and spoke on women, youth and aboriginal people. She worked or volunteered for numerous organizations, including the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre, the Native Clan organization, the Main Street Project and the province’s correctional institutions. She was inducted into the Order of the Buffalo Hunt and received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award. She died in 2007.


Edward Head

He was a Métis leader. Born in 1931, he was a trapper and guide before becoming involved in Métis politics. He was a founder of the Manitoba Métis Federation and served as vice-president before being elected president in 1975. He received the Order of Manitoba and the Order of the Métis Nation and was named an MMF senator. He died in 2009.


Clifford Maytwayashing

He was considered one of the best old-time fiddlers in the country. He was born in 1939 and picked up the fiddle at five. He won numerous awards through the years including fiddle champion at the Manitoba Indian Days for eight years running. His album, Skiffle Fiddle, was named the best fiddle CD at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards in 1996. He died in 2009.


J. J. Harper

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J. J. Harper

John Joseph (J.J.) Harper

He was executive director of the Island Lake Tribal Council. He was shot and killed in 1988 by a Winnipeg police officer after being mistaken for a young car thief. The slaying helped spark the province’s Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, which recommended sweeping changes to the system.


Grace Easter

She was born at the Chemawawin Cree Nation in Ontario in 1955 and came to Manitoba when the community was relocated here eight years later. She became a nurse and rose to become president of the Manitoba Indian Nurses Association and president of the National Aboriginal Nurses Association in 1978. She was integral in creating the KeKinAn Centre, the first senior citizens home for aboriginal people in the province and the first in a Canadian city. She died in 1986.


Jordin Tootoo

He was born in Churchill and raised in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, by his Inuit father and his mother of Ukrainian descent. He has played hockey for the Brandon Wheat Kings and was the first player of Inuit descent to play in a regular-season NHL game when he began playing for the Nashville Predators in 2003.


Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair

He is from the site of the former Peguis First Nation north of Winnipeg. He now lives in Winnipeg, where he teaches at the University of Manitoba and is a writer. His works have appeared in Prairie Fire and Tales from Moccasin Avenue: An Anthology of Native Stories. He writes a monthly column published in urban NDN, the city’s former alternative aboriginal newspaper, and is a regular contributor to the Winnipeg Free Press.


Arnold Asham

He is the owner of Asham Curling Supplies, which, besides selling curling equipment, also outfits championship curling teams around the world. He is the founder of the Asham Stompers, which preserves the history of the Métis people by dancing the Red River Jig.


James Wilson

He is the commissioner of the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba. He is from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in The Pas. He was the director of education of OCN and he has a master’s of education administration from the University of Manitoba. He served in the U.S. Army’s special operations and received the Distinguished Honour Graduate Award. He received national and provincial environmental awards for his outdoor education program at OCN’s Joe A. Ross School. He writes a monthly column for the Winnipeg Free Press.


Vanda Fleury

She grew up in Brandon and was the first Métis woman to graduate with a four-year bachelor of arts degree in world religion at Brandon University. She has hosted a radio program, The Word, for Streetz 104.7 FM in Winnipeg, and was the primary author of the education resource book for the Manitoba Museum exhibit First Nations as First Farmers. She ran provincially for the Green party.


Ervin Chartrand

He was vice-president of the Manitoba Warriors and was imprisoned for more than three years in federal penitentiaries. He began his career in film and television by enrolling in the city’s Aboriginal Broadcast Training Initiative. He was a puppet wrangler on the children’s TV series Tipi Tales and has directed the films Patrick Ross in 2005, Walk to the Beat of the Drum in 2006 and Sister in 2007.


Tracy Bone

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Tracy Bone

From the Keeseekoowenin Ojibwa First Nation and Winnipeg, she is a singer-songwriter. She received five nominations at the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards in 2006 and was named best female artist at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards in 2007.


Wab Kinew

He was named by Postmedia News as one of nine aboriginal movers and shakers you should know. While working at the CBC, he hosted 8th Fire, won an Adrienne Clarkson RTNDA award and was nominated for a Gemini Award. His hip-hop career has garnered him an Aboriginal People’s Choice music award. He is now the director of indigenous inclusion at the University of Winnipeg.


Nahanni Fontaine

She graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a BA in environmental studies and international studies and from the University of Manitoba with an MA in native studies. She was the director of justice for the Southern Chiefs Organization. She is now a special adviser on aboriginal women’s issues in the province’s Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Department.


Leslie Spillett

She was born in northern Manitoba and went to school in Saskatchewan. She worked in journalism before moving to Winnipeg in 1977. She founded Ka Ni Kanichihk to support women and their families and is its executive director. She was a principal founder of Mother of Red Nations Women’s Council of Manitoba and was on the executive of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. She founded the Aboriginal Youth Achievement Awards. She has been granted an honorary doctorate from the University of Winnipeg and received the Order of Manitoba earlier this year.


Gerry St. Germain

He was born in Manitoba — a direct descendant of Cuthbert Grant — and grew up near the former Grantown near St. Franßois Xavier. He was a Winnipeg police officer before moving to Vancouver and going into real estate development and farming. He was elected a Tory MP in 1983 and was the first Métis to be appointed to the federal cabinet when he served as minister of state for transport and forestry. He was president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. He was named to the Senate by Prime Minister Mulroney in 1993, serving there until retiring earlier this year at age 75.


Warren Cariou

He is a Métis author who holds the Canada research chair in narrative, community and indigenous cultures at the University of Manitoba’s faculty of arts. He is an associate professor of English at the university and has written books, including The Exalted Company of Roadside Martyrs and Lake of the Prairies, which won the Drainie-Taylor prize for biography. He has served on the jury for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.


Rosanna Deerchild

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Rosanna Deerchild

Rosanna Deerchild

She is from South Indian Lake and works as a broadcaster and writer. She has worked at APTN, CBC and Global and currently works at NCI-FM. She has won a Blizzard Award and an award from the Native American Journalism Association. She wrote a book of poetry, this is a small northern town, which won the Aqua Books Lansdowne prize for poetry in 2009.


Ryan McMahon

He is a Métis comedian based in Winnipeg who has headlined festivals. His Ryan McMahon: UnReserved television comedy special on CBC made him the first native comedian every to have an hour-long comedy special on CBC TV.


Dan Vandal

He is a Winnipeg city councillor. He began boxing at 15 and was the No. 1-ranked Canadian middleweight in 1983. He later became a youth worker at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, received a social work degree at the University of Manitoba and was vice-president of the Old St. Boniface Residents Association. He was elected a city councillor in 1995. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Sam Katz in 2004 after Glen Murray resigned. He was re-elected to council in 2006.


Sierra Noble

She was born in Ottawa in 1990 and moved to Winnipeg with her family the same year. She began busking at The Forks and in 2002 became the youth ambassador for the Manitoba Campaign to Ban Land Mines. She released Spirit of the Strings, an instrumental fiddle album, in 2005, and her vocal release, Possibilities, in 2008. She won the Vina del Mar International Song Festival with her song Try Anything in 2011. She has been honoured with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and the Premier’s Volunteer Services Award.


Tina Keeper

She was born in Winnipeg and is the granddaughter of Olympic long-distance runner Joe Keeper and daughter of Joseph Keeper, who has received the Order of Canada. She acted in North of 60 as RCMP officer Michelle Kenidi and starred in the short docudrama For Angela. She was elected Liberal MP for Churchill in 2006. She lost the next election and is now a partner in Kistikan Pictures. She has been honoured with the Order of Manitoba.


Errol Ranville

Also known as C-Weed, he is a singer-songwriter. His cover of Evangeline was No. 1 on the Canadian Country Music chart in 1980 and his next single, High and Dry, hit No. 1 in 1981. He and his band have toured the world. He worked for the Manitoba Audio Recording Industry Association to create the aboriginal music program in 2004, and a year later served as executive producer of the newly created Manito Ahbee Festival.


Ovide Mercredi

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Ovide Mercredi

He was born in Grand Rapids and received his law degree at the University of Manitoba in 1977. He was president of the first native student association in the country. He was a lawyer in The Pas until he began working for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs as a legal adviser. He was elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in 1991 and served until 1997. He is the chief of the Misipawistik Cree Nation.


Albert McLeod

He is an aboriginal AIDS activist. He was a founder of the Manitoba Aboriginal AIDS Task Force and was program manager there from 1991 to 2001. He was a founder of the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network in 1997 and was a founding director of the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba.


Phil Fontaine

He was born at the Sagkeeng First Nation in 1944 and went to a residential school in Sagkeeng and Winnipeg. He was elected chief of Sagkeeng in 1973. He was elected Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in 1991 and national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in 1997. He owns and operates Ishkonigan, a firm that specializes in consultation and mediation services for indigenous communities. He has been honoured with the Order of Manitoba.


Oscar Lathlin

He was born at the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in 1947 and went to high school in Cranberry Portage. After graduating, he returned to his community and worked as a band manager until becoming executive director of the Swampy Cree Tribal Council in 1979. He was elected chief in 1985 and was elected NDP MLA for The Pas in 1990. After the NDP formed the government, he was named conservation minister and later aboriginal and northern affairs minister. He died in 2008.


Elijah Harper

He is notable for saying no. He was born at the Red Sucker Lake First Nation in 1949 and was elected chief in 1978. He became the first treaty Indian to be elected as a provincial politician when he became an NDP MLA for Rupertsland in 1981. He was appointed northern affairs minister until the fall of the Pawley government in 1988. He became famous in 1990 for holding an eagle feather and voting no against the Meech Lake Accord, helping to scuttle the constitutional amendment. He was named newsmaker of the year by the Canadian Press. He became Liberal MP for Churchill in 1993 and served until being defeated in 1997.


Yvon Dumont

He was born in St. Laurent in 1951. He became involved with the Manitoba Métis Federation in 1967, rising to be its president from 1984 to 1993. He was president of the Métis National Council from 1988 to 1993. He was appointed the province’s 21st lieutenant-governor in 1992, the first Métis to serve in the position. He was honoured with the Order of Manitoba in 2001 and an honorary degree from the University of Manitoba in 1996.


David Chartrand

He was born and raised in Duck Bay. He worked for the province’s Justice Department until being elected president and chairman of the Manitoba Métis Federation. He has received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and an honorary doctorate from the University of Winnipeg.


David Harper

He was raised in Garden Hill and became a pilot and public relations manager for a regional airline. He returned to Garden Hill and was elected a band councillor in 1996 and chief in 1998, serving a total of four terms. He was elected Grand Chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak in 2009.


Derek Nepinak

Born in Winnipeg, he grew up at the Pine Creek First Nation. While swimming for the University of Calgary, he tried out for the Olympic team and was a national finalist. He received a BA in native studies at the University of Alberta and later a law degree at the University of Saskatchewan. He became chief of the Pine Creek First Nation. He is now Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.


Murray Clearsky

He was chief of the Waywayseecappo First Nation for 10 terms and one term at the Birdtail Sioux First Nation. Earlier this year, he was elected Grand Chief of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization.


Mary Richard

She was born into a Métis family in Camperville. She moved to Winnipeg as an adult and became active in the aboriginal community. She was senator for the National Association of Friendship Centres, president of the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg, the Indigenous Women’s Collective and the Circle of Life Thunderbird House. She was executive director of the Manitoba Association of Native Languages. She sat on several boards, including Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre and the Median Credit Union. She was honoured with the Order of the Buffalo Hunt in 1998 and the Order of Manitoba in 2000. She died in 2010.


Jackson Beardy

He was born at the Garden Hill First Nation in 1944 and first began painting while attending the residential school in Portage la Prairie. He studied fine arts at the University of Manitoba and became part of the Professional Native Indian Arts Association in 1973, better known as the Indian Group of Seven. He worked as a senior arts adviser to the federal Indian and Northern Development Department and helped lay the groundwork for the organizations that would help future generations of First Nations artists. He died in 1984.


Daphne Odjig

She was born in 1919 in Ontario. She moved to northern Manitoba with her husband in 1964 and had her first public solo art exhibition in 1967. One of her works was commissioned for Canada’s pavilion at Expo 1970 in Japan. She opened a craft store in Winnipeg in 1971, which later became the Wah-Sa Gallery, and was commissioned by the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature to create the mural The Creation of the World for the province’s centennial. She co-founded the Indian Group of Seven in 1973. She became the first First Nation female artist to show at the National Gallery of Canada. She has been inducted into the Order of Canada and received the Governor General’s Laureate, Visual and Media Arts, the country’s highest honour in the field of visual arts.


Eddy Cobiness

He was born in Warroad, Minn., in 1933 and grew up at the Buffalo Point First Nation. He was a Golden Gloves boxer while serving in the U.S. Army, and that’s also when he started to paint. He began his art career in the 1960s and was part of the Indian Group of Seven. He is known for painting wildlife with gentle, flowing lines and his work is in the collection of Queen Elizabeth II. He died in 1996.


Adam Beach

He was born in Ashern and grew up on the Lake Manitoba First Nation. When he was 8, both his parents died and he was raised by family members. He has acted in the movies Flags of Our Fathers and Cowboys and Aliens and TV shows North of 60, The Rez, and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. He is currently starring in the CBC TV show Arctic Air.


Shingoose (Curtis Jonnie)

He was born in Winnipeg and raised on the Roseau River First Nation and in Steinbach. He was part of a Nebraska-based Boystown Concert Choir and various rock bands in the United States. He moved to Winnipeg in 1973 and began singing in a country-folk style. He has released numerous recordings and his best-known songs are Loved Ones (originally Wounded Knee Blues), Indian Time and Reservation Blues.


Louis Stevenson

He became chief of the Peguis First Nation in 1981. He garnered international headlines when he invited the South African ambassador to Peguis in 1987 to see the conditions at his reserve. He was interim Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs from 1987 to 1989 and was honoured with a commemorative medal for the 125th anniversary of Confederation and a National Aboriginal Achievement Award.


Don Kelly

Based in Winnipeg, he is a comedian and standup comic who has hosted his own national television specials on CBC and CTV. He has hosted several Aboriginal Day Live national broadcasts. He is co-host and writer of the Gemini-nominated TV show Fish Out of Water on APTN.


Tomson Highway

He was born in 1951 in a tent pitched on a snowbank on the Manitoba/Nunavut border and went to the Guy Hill Indian Residential School, where he was sexually abused. He obtained his BA in music and English at the University of Western Ontario. He has written the plays The Rez Sisters and Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, which both won Dora Mavor Moore awards for best new play. He was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1994, and in 2000 Maclean’s named him one of the 100 most important people in Canadian history.


Lisa Meeches

She is an executive producer and president of two Winnipeg-based production companies, Eagle Vision and Meeches Video Productions. She is executive producer of The Sharing Circle and the children’s series Tipi Tales. In 2006, she co-produced the movie Capote, which earned Philip Seymour Hoffman an Oscar for best actor, and the CTV movie Elijah, which won two Gemini awards. She has been honoured with a National Aboriginal Achievement Award and the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction award.


Alan Greyeyes

He is a member of the Peguis First Nation and grew up in Winnipeg. He has a BA in economics from Trent University. He is the chairman of Aboriginal Music Manitoba and vice-chairman of the Manito Ahbee Festival.


Eric Robinson

He is a member of the Pimicikamak Cree Nation. He was Grand Councillor of the Four Nations Confederacy of Manitoba in 1981 and 1982. He was first elected as an NDP MLA in Rupertsland in 1993 and has been re-elected five times. He has served as minister of aboriginal and northern affairs, minister of culture, heritage and tourism and as deputy premier.


Murray Sinclair

He was born and raised in Selkirk and received his law degree at the University of Manitoba in 1979. He was appointed the associate chief judge of the provincial court, the province’s first aboriginal judge, in 1988. He was co-commissioner of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry. He was appointed to the Court of Queen’s Bench in 2001. Currently, he is chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.


Ken Champagne

He is of Métis descent. He worked in the province’s Crown attorneys office from 1993 until being appointed a provincial court judge in 2005. He was named chief judge of the provincial court in 2009.


Michael Champagne

Born in 1987, from Shamattawa but raised in Winnipeg’s North End, he began working with community groups in 2005. He organized the weekly bell-tower rallies in the North End for youth who oppose the violence in the area.


Kevin Chief

He lives in Winnipeg’s North End and went to school there, later graduating with a BA in justice and law enforcement from the University of Winnipeg. He was co-ordinator of the Innovative Learning Centre at the U of W and director of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre. He was elected MLA in 2011 and is the children and youth opportunities minister.


Tasha Hubbard

She is a lecturer in the University of Manitoba’s department of native studies. She is a filmmaker who won a Gemini award for her documentary, Two Worlds, which looked at the Saskatoon police department’s starlight rides. Her films have also been seen at festivals across North America and televised on CBC and Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.


Emma LaRocque

She is a groundbreaking professor in the University of Manitoba’s department of native studies. She was one of the first to put forward an aboriginal-based critical voice and theory and has been at the forefront of pushing for the development of native studies as a field of study. She wrote Defeathering the Indian in 1975 and When the Other is Me in 2010. She was honoured with the 2005 Aboriginal Achievement Award.


Fred Shore

He is an assistant professor in the University of Manitoba’s native studies department and the former executive director of the Office of University Accessibility. He was an elementary school teacher in Ontario and Quebec before moving to Winnipeg and becoming a housing officer and employment development co-ordinator at the Manitoba Métis Federation. He was an MMF board member in the early 1980s. He has been head of the U of M’s native studies department.


Wanda Wuttunee

She is a professor in native studies at the University of Manitoba who specializes in aboriginal economies. She is also director of Aboriginal Business Education Partners at the Asper School of Business and is regional co-chair of the Poverty Action Research Program.


Sherry Farrell Racette

Born in Manitoba and a member of Quebec’s Timiskaming First Nation, she is an artist and an associate professor in both the University of Manitoba’s native studies and women and gender studies departments. She illustrated the award-winning children’s books Dancing in My Bones and Call of the Fiddle and her art is in the collections of the Canada Art Bank, Mackenzie Art Gallery and Saskatchewan Arts Board.


Brenda Gunn

She is an assistant law professor at the University of Manitoba. She received her call to the bar in both Ontario and Manitoba after graduating with a Master of Laws degree from the University of Arizona. She worked on a case of genocide submitted to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights while working at a community legal clinic in Guatemala. She is currently working on implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and has created a handbook on the declaration.


Marcia Anderson Decoteau

She is an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba’s department of community health sciences and the section head of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health. She is president of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada and past chairwoman of the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors Congress. She was honoured with a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 2011.


Barry Lavallee

He is acting director of the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Aboriginal Health Education. He graduated from the university’s faculty of medicine and completed his postgraduate training in 1990. He received his master’s of clinical sciences degree in family medicine at the University of Western Ontario in 2004. His research studies the experience of First Nations and Métis patients in the patient-physician therapeutic relationship, and he is the medical lead for the Diabetes Integration Project.


Reggie Leach

Nicknamed the Riverton Rifle, he was born in Riverton in 1950. He is one of the all-time top scorers in the Western Canada Junior Hockey League, scoring 87 goals during the 1967-68 season. He was drafted third in 1970 by the Boston Bruins. He played 13 seasons in the NHL, the most memorable ones with the Philadelphia Flyers, where he helped win the Stanley Cup in 1975, and was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1976. That season, he scored 19 goals in 16 games during the playoffs, even though his team lost the Stanley Cup. He has been inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame and Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame.


Ray St. Germain

He first played the accordion but switched to guitar and has been playing it ever since. He has performed across Canada and around the world. He hosted the national television shows Time for Livin’ and My Kind of Country on CBC-TV and Ray St. Germain Country and Big Sky Country on CKND. He was elected to the Canadian Country Music Hall of Honour in 2010.


Ila Bussidor

She has served as both band councillor and chief at the Sayisi Dene First Nation for most of her adult life. She has been head of the executive council of the Keewatin Tribal Council and served on the boards of the Manitoba Women’s Council and Awasis Child and Family Services. She played a key role in helping the federal government recognize the land rights of the Sayisi Dene during the creation of Nunavut. She is co-author of Night Spirits: The Story of the Relocation of the Sayisi Dene, which chronicles the story of her band’s relocation by the federal government from a nomadic life to the outskirts of Churchill.


Theoren Fleury

Born in Saskatchewan and raised in Russell, he played in the NHL from 1988 to 2003. He made up for his small size with aggressiveness, scoring more than 1,000 points in his career and helping the Calgary Flames win the Stanley Cup in 1989. He helped Canada win a gold medal at the 2002 Olympics. He wrote his autobiography, Playing with Fire, in which he detailed how he was sexually abused by his former coach, Graham James, who was later convicted and is currently serving prison time.


Doug Nepinak

He was a poet and a playwright who was nominated for the John Hirsch Award for the most promising Manitoba writer in 2002. He was co-founder of Winnipeg’s Aboriginal Writers Collective. He died in 2005.


sources: Winnipeg Free Press archives, University of Manitoba, Manitoba Historical Society, Canadian Encyclopedia and various websites.