By Oriana Wesley-Family and friends gathered on the weekend to say farewell to Minnie Elizabeth Wilson Croft. Minnie was born in Skidegate, and belonged to the Skedans clan. Her name was Jaadskaan. She was 97 at her passing.
She leaves behind her only son, Bill, and her siblings and their children. She came from a clan of sturdy, strong-willed women. She came from a clan of dreamers, but she was a doer also.
During her long lifetime she set herself big goals, in seeking out more opportunities and understanding for First Nations people across all of Canada. Her hope for educational opportunities drove her to stick with it until the UBC creations of aboriginal programs were born, and Vancouver’s Aboriginal Centre came into being.
Minnie recognized the plight of some aboriginal women, and, in full Minnie fashion, got on board with Elizabeth Fry society, to help promote awareness of First Nation’s women’s issues. She was a strong advocate on the Professional Native Women’s Society, and in the United Native Nations.
Little Minnie was a formidable lady, and wherever she saw a need for grassroots efforts she pursued it. She often served as a cultural or linguistic interpreter for the Haida Nation. In 1987 she received the Golden Feather Award for her overwhelming contribution to promoting and creating opportunities for her people.
In 1993, Minnie received a special award. She was awarded with an honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of British Columbia, for her groundbreaking work in not only helping to promote unity of all people, but in setting the stage for educational options for First Nations students.
When I met Minnie, she was already living at the hospital, confined to a wheelchair. But that did not stop her. The feisty spirit that had kept her going all those years burned on inside. She was forever “escaping” with her chair, getting the nurses on the fly to catch that free spirit.
Well, Dr. Minnie, take time to rest before you head out on your next adventure. I hope we all will meet again someday soon.
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