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Indian Women

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MARCH 1989      p12  
Chief Mary Ann DayWalker
Chief Mary-Ann DayWalker

For over eight years Mary-Ann Day Walker has been Chief of the Okanese Band near Fort Qu'Appelle.

She also sits on the board of directors of the Silver Sage Housing Corporation in Regina and the District Planning Committee for the Touchwood, File Hills, Fort Qu'Appelle District Chiefs.

The Okanese Band has 350 members. Chief Day Walker and her two counsellors preside over a staff of 12 and an operating budget of about $700,000.

Before she ran for Chief, Mary Ann attended the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College where she studied education. She left, a few courses shy of a degree, and became a field worker for Adult Education with the Saskatchewan Indian Community College. She worked with the District Bands setting up adult upgrading and short courses.

It was at this time that she got involved in politics. "I was attending a District Chiefs meeting and got interested in their discussions, she said.

"At this time our band had no Band Policies and instruments to govern in place." "I decided to run for Chief and see what I could do.

So far she has run for election, successfully, four times.

Chief Day Walker's plans include putting the bands land entitlement in place. Under the 1976 formula the Okanese Band is entitled to 12,000 acres or 2,000 based on the shortfall at the date of first survey.

This summer the band will build a $300,000 water treatment plant and nine Kilometres of new road.

Over the years she has represented her band at the district and provincial level and on occasion met with officials in Ottawa. However she feels that her job begins at home at the reserve land.

And her band's program indicates her commitment.

Jean Goodwill
Jean Goodwill

Jean Goodwill has been involved in Indian Health since 1955 and her involvement has spanned isolated northern nursing stations and the Health Ministers Office in Ottawa.

Jean was born Jean Cuthand on the Little Pine Reserve. She attended the school of nursing in the Holy Family Hospital in Prince Albert and graduated as a Registered Nurse.

Her nursing career began in La Ronge with Indian and Northern Health Services. At the time there was no hospital and the nearest doctor was in Prince Albert about 150 air miles south. For two years she and two other nurses were the only health care personnel in the area. They inoculated the students, patched up minor injuries and in the summer removed fishhooks from kids and tourists.

Her desire to broaden her horizons led her to seek out a position in a hospital in Bermuda. After a couple of years of the good life she returned to Canada.

She continued to nurse in Canada but became increasingly involved with Indian organizations to improve health care.

She worked with native government departments including Indian Affairs, National Health and Welfare and Secretary of State.

In 1979 the relation between Health and Welfare and the Indian community were at an all time low. The then Health Minister Monique Begain brought Jean into her office as a special advisor to the Minister.

Her duties included briefing the Minister and meeting with Indian and Inuit groups. Relations between the Ministers office and her client groups improved considerably.

In 1974 Jean had helped found the Indian and Inuit Nurses of Canada and in 1983 she became president.

In 1986 she received an honorary Doctorate of Law from Queens University and later that fall was elected for another term as president of the Indian and Inuit Nurses of Canada.

She helped develop the National Native Access to Nursing Program at the University of Saskatchewan and she is currently head of the Indian Health Studies Department at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College at the University of Regina.

Jean and her husband Ken Goodwill live on the Standing Buffalo Reserve.

Betty Spence
Betty Spence

Betty Spence is a full time elder with the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College in Regina. She works with two male elders, Willy Piegan and James Iron Eagle.

"75% of the SIFC student population is female and a female elder is very important to them," Betty says.

"Many of the students have problems with their families or their course of study." "They often come to me to talk out their problems.

"Sometimes they come to me looking for sympathy and I give them a scolding, she says laughing.

Betty has been an elder at the College since the fall of 1986.

Over the years she and her husband Ahab have taught school on a number of reserves including Little Pine, Stanley Mission, North Battleford and Sioux Lookout in Manitoba.

"I enjoy my job and the young people" Betty says. "If I'm not in my office I'm probably table hopping with the students in the cafeteria."

Indian Women

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      MARCH 1989      p13  
Lefa Buffalo
Lefa Buffalo

The successful Northern Economic Conference held this month in La Ronge was organized by SlAP staff member Lefa Buffalo.

Lefa, a member of the Day Star Band, has been with the Saskatchewan Indian Agricultural Program since the program first started over twelve years ago. Now she's the executive assistant to the Program Manager at the board of directors.

Her duties include work assigned by SlAP Manager, Ken Thomas, which includes organizing SlAP board meetings and conferences and serving on special assignments such as the Planning committee for the Saskatchewan Indian Youth Conference.

Before Lefa worked for SlAP she graduated from a Business College Secretarial course and worked at the Day Star Band Office and later on with the F.S.I. Community Development Program.

Her future plans include continuing her career and maybe setting up her own business. "I took a 28 day entrepreneurial training program and learned how businesses operate and I would like to set up my own professional support service."

"You have to be confident in yourself to get the job done."

Joan Greyeyes
Joan Greyeyes

According to Joan Greyeyes, a strong self identity is the most important gift a mother can give her children. This self identity includes a positive understanding of one's self as an Indian and what ever other national heritage one may have, "My parents taught us to be proud to be Indian and also to be proud of our Scottish heritage too. A strong self image does not deny any part of a person's heritage", she says.

Joan Greyeyes is the Director of Special Programs at the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies in Saskatoon. She holds a post-graduate certificate in Education Administration and has worked with the North Battleford District Chiefs, the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre, SINCO and at one time co-ordinated the Indian Teacher Education Program in the North Battleford District.

She says that although there were very few Indian students when she attended university (Greyeyes was one of only three Indians who graduated with a Bachelor of Education - all of them women - from the University of Saskatchewan in 1977) it was not terribly difficult for her. Her positive understanding of who she was gave Greyeyes the confidence' to succeed. Her parents always stressed education, she says.

Greyeyes says she would like to see more women involved in politics. "They have a high sense of what's right and wrong," she says, "If women were in charge of programs and funding and budgets, things would be more fair. Women are not greedy and their positions don't go to their heads!"

She understands, however, that for many women, involvement in politics outside the home will have to wait until they're a bit older when their children are grown up. "They aren't ready to go outside the home until they're sure their kids have a good start in life. They want to raise their children well, before they go running off to other things. They don't want to spread themselves too thin."

"More women are ready to get involved when their kids are grown. That is, if they're not at home with their grandchildren!" She says, "But that's good too."

Joan is married and has two kids of her own. She's an active hockey mom who usually can be found at the rink, cheering on her son.

Theresa Stevenson
Theresa Stevenson

In 1978 Theresa Stevenson went to work for Regina Native Community Awareness. She is still there helping urban Indians in Regina.

At their recent Chiefs Assembly the FSIN honored her as Citizen of the Year. The award was in recognition of her many years of service but is particularly for her work to set up her lunch program for inner city school students.

She and her husband Bob used their own money to get the lunch program started. They also asked for a silver collection to keep it going. Now the program receives regular donations and Theresa is able to hire three part-time workers to help with the cooking and serving.

Her duties with the Regina Native Community Awareness also include working with senior citizens, and helping Indians in the city with housing and Social Services. She also refers clients to other services available for all citizens of Regina, and if that wasn't enough to keep her busy she also holds Cree and craft classes at the Albert Scott Memorial Centre.

Her volunteer work includes: committee member for the Albert Library, the North Central Health Committee and the Regina Child Hunger Coalition. She also sits on the Silver Sage Housing selection committee.

This year she has become a bit of a celebrity as her achievements have been recognized. In addition to the FSIN award as Citizen of the Year, she is YWCA's Woman of the Year and has been named Citizen of the Week for CKCK radio and television.

Theresa and Bob are originally from the Cowessess Reserve but now they and their three sons live in Regina. Their two oldest sons, Wes and Dare work for the city administration. Their youngest son Greg is a pastor with the First Indian Baptist Church.