Pelly was born on February 7, 1925 on the Keeseekoose
First Nation. Pauline's love of people was demonstrated
in her dedication to family. She raised twelve children,
seven daughters and five sons, and a number of adopted
children and foster children. Pauline had a wealth of
friends and was surrounded by love. In life, Pauline was
an inspiring women. Her mission came as a direct result
of the way she was raised. Pauline's father, the Late Roy
Musqua, always expressed his belief that she would one
day become a champion of First Nations traditions,
language and culture.
She is fondly remembered as the Grandmother of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. The Late Elder Pauline Pelly also worked in a variety of roles, always in education. She attended residential schooling that can be described as horrific, yet she remained an avid student. Pauline spent five years studying sociology, earning her degree late in life. In her humble nature she rarely talked about her own accomplishments. She considered her most significant learning to be through the traditions of her Saulteaux heritage and was devoted to the practice of her culture.
She spent the last 12 years of her life working as a Resident Elder at SIIT. Pauline was always an inspiration and source of knowledge for all who knew her. Just before her death, she wrote the following words for the SIIT calendar:
Education is vitally important to give us the knowledge and skills to build a better future for our children and grandchildren. Our educational institutions must be firmly based on our traditional cultural values.
Traditional values such as respect for all people and living things, a strong sense of family and community, caring, sharing and encouraging each other: these are our most important values. We must cherish our values; which are the basis of our strength as individuals and as First Nations and keep them close to our hearts.
The primary concern of Elders today include preservation of our languages, culture, spirituality and treaty rights. Treaty rights include our right to self-government, as well as to an education that will enable us to live in both worlds. Young people need to have strong understandings of their heritage and culture, to know who they really are and where they come from. Education is vital to teach our young people to be professionals and to enable them to continue negotiating for our rights. This will be the basis of our future and our survival as First Nations people.
In March, 1993, she spoke at the Assembly of First Nations Confederacy meeting. She closed her speech with these words: "Today I am proud to be who I am. I am proud to be a Saulteaux, that I know my culture and my language, I will never, ever again be ashamed of who I am."
On March 2, 1996, she passed away peacefully. The Late Elder Pauline Pelly will be sadly missed by all who knew her.