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Eleanor Brass dies at 87


Sandra Dieter-Brooks, Windspeaker Contributor







Page 17

Eleanor Brass, recognized for a lifetime commitment to fostering friendship between Native and non-Native peoples, recently died in Regina at the age of 87.

Brass helped form many Native Friendship Centres, including the Regina Friendship Association, in an effort to help young Native people make the transition

from reserve to urban living. She was instrumental in determining that a state of equilibrium could be reached between Native and white society. She knew Native integration would help create a more balanced society within Canada.

She started her writing career in 1949 with a column on Indian issues in The Regina Leader, called Breaking the Barriers. She was a long-time resident of Peace River, where she wrote a column called Eleanor's North, which appeared in the A.N.C.S. weekly newspaper.

She held various government jobs from 1965 to 1971. After her retirement, she wrote her first book, Medicine Boy and Other Cree Tales, a collection of legends and stories taken from her youth.

In 1987, she published her autobiography, called I Walk in Two Worlds, probably her best-known work.

Brass was born on the Peepeekisis Reserve in Saskatchewan to Frederick Dieter and Marybelle Cote. She was a direct descendant of Chief Gabriel Cote (Saulteaux tribe) and Chief Okanese, who signed Treaty Four at Fort Qu'Appelle in 1874.

Brass experienced the extremes of two culturally different societies, which compelled her to express her nature. She became puppeteer, storyteller and writer.

In 1991, she received an honorary literary degree from the University of Toronto in recognition of her work in the Native community and her numerous articles and books.

Brass became too ill to complete work on her third book, titled Off the Buckskin Pieces, which was to have recounted some anecdotes of her youth.

Brass was buried at her birthplace on the Peepeekisis Reserve.