We Are All Treaty People

Elder Gladys Wapass-Greyeyes

Born to David Jimmy and Maryanne Neepsiwakask (Willow Bark) on July 30, 1939 on the Thunderchild First Nation, Gladys remembers her first six years as the happiest of her life. The next eleven years were spent in the Onion Lake Residential school, and happy memories were confined to the two months every summer when she was allowed to go back home. It was during those summer months back home that Gladys “learned more than she ever did at school.” Gladys explains that over the years, knowing where she came from has given her the strength to pursue her goals and dreams. Gladys remembers her mother as being very kind, teaching “not to hate people, but to dislike what they do”, it was a response to those teachings that gave rise to the belief that “the womans’s role all her life is to be a teacher”. Gladys notes that remembering the teachings of her parents made her what she is today. It was her mother who taught that: “the universe (Ispetastanikak) is the classroom and/or church, and that one does not have to be ‘boxed in’ to learn or pray.” Gladys went to university as an adult student, taking classes in teaching methodology that helped her as a Cree teacher. She taught Cree at the Thunderchild School for twelve years and in Muskeg Lake for six or seven years. In recent times Gladys has been invited as an Elder to help in various social and educational capacities throughout Saskatchewan that include counselling youth in substance abuse situations and working in schools as part of the Teaching Treaties in the Classroom project.