FEBRUARY 11, 1932

CREE LINGUIST AND AUTHOR FREDA AHENAKEW BORN

Born on Ahtahkakoop Reserve in Saskatchewan, Ahenakew helped preserve the Cree language.  Leaving high school to marry, she later returned to school, graduated (1969), earned a Bachelor’s degree (1979) and was named Mother of the Year by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN).  From 1985 to 1996, she was Director of Saskatchewan Indian Languages Institute and both professor and Department Head of Native Studies at University of Manitoba.  She formed the First Nations Women Writers group.  FSIN made her Citizen of the Year in 1992.  Her books, Our Grandmothers’ Lives, As Told in Their Own Words, and Their Example Showed Me the Way: A Cree Woman’s Life Shaped by Two Cultures, are highly regarded in Indigenous literature and earned her an Alberta Book Award in 1998.  Her children’s books include Flies to the Moon and How the Mouse Got Brown Teeth.  She also translated and produced textbooks.  She died at Muskeg Lake First Nation, Saskatchewan, 8 April 2011. 

Source:  Michelle Felice, “Freda Ahenakew,” The Canadian Encyclopedia, 12/11/2015.  Retrieved 6/8/2019, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/freda-ahenakew/
Photo:  Courtesy of University of Saskatchewan, University Archives and Special Collections, RG 2009, 2003-12,  Freda Ahenakew

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