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In Memory Of Ida Mcleod

Chief Solomon Sanderson

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE 1982      v12 n05 p02  
In memory of Ida Mcleod Ida McLeod was born at Sandy Lake Reserve. It was here that she came to understand the importance of being proud and independent. The pride in being Indian would be necessary for her in later years when she would leave the Reserve and live in the non-Indian world. The independence would be necessary for her when she had to stand up and speak for the education rights of Indians - a right her forefathers had provided in the treaties.

Ida came from a home that honored the Indian way of living. She had the fortune to live in the rich memory of the former great Chief Atahakoop and with elders such as Edward Ahenakew.

It was with this background that she left the reserve and received her education and became a teacher. She would some day be known as the "teacher of teachers".

Following her completion of teacher training, she moved to James Smith and it was there that she would work, become a wife and become a mother.

During those years at James Smith, she along with John worked hard to provide the best education for their family. In the early sixties this meant providing education opportunities in what was called the "joint-schools". The fight for entrance into the joint schools was based on the facts that the schools on our reserve had old facilities and were poorly equipped and, as well, throughout North America there were struggles to provide for greater equality of opportunity through the integration of minorities into joint schools.

But when these joint-schools did not provide for the opportunities as originally expected, Ida became a leader for greater Indian control of education.

She would say many times in discussing her children's experience in the joint-schools "John and I would do what the teacher said - we gave our children a quiet place to study, we made sure they did their homework, we made sure they went to bed on time - and yet our children and our friends' children were not passing their grades; something was wrong with the system.

It was with this sense of concern that Ida, John and family left James Smith and moved to Saskatoon. During their time in Saskatoon, John and Ida would contribute much to Indian Education.

Ida became a leader in Indian education. On a personal level she completed her degree and through her encouragement witnessed with great pride her family, Garney, Joanne and Barbara Morris becoming educators in their own right.

But her contribution was great and reached out to more than just her family. She travelled throughout the province and talked about Indian education, and specifically her love - the need and right for Indian children to know their own language.

Ida established the Indian Language Program - a program that gave Indian children the opportunity to maintain their mother tongue. But the program would do more than provide a right to learn the Indian language. It gave to us a pride in being Indian. To the Indian Language Instructors, it was a program that not only provided personal opportunities to its participants, but provided our Indian communities with Indian educators. To our people, it was a program that said we are proud of our heritage and language and we no longer will hang our heads in shame to speak our words our way.

Ida was a woman with conviction and determination, but with understanding and compassion. She, along with John, sacrificed much and provided us so much more. They were a team that contributed more than was asked - a team that history will favorably recognize, and that we will always love. To Ida we thank you.