On April 15, we were given the sad news of the passing of Life Speaker Noel Starblanket who enriched our lives with his wisdom and patience, teaching faculty and students while serving as Elder-in-Residence, and in walking with us over the years. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Noel Starblanket. The Life Celebration and viewing will be held at First Nations University on Thursday, April 18 from 12-2pm. There will be a Wake at White Buffalo Calf Gymnasium in Lebret at 4pm. A Traditional Funeral will take place on Friday, April 19 at 11am in Lebret.
Life Speaker Noel Starblanket served as an Elder-in-Residence for the Faculty of Education from Sept. 2016 to April 2017. He walked alongside us to provide wisdom, guidance, and care as we Indigenized our space, curriculum and practices. Noel was especially significant as an advisor in the creation of the Nanatawihowikamik Healing Lodge, a SHRF- and Faculty-funded project that took Dr. JoLee Sasakamoose and Dr. Angela McGinnis over two years to complete (See Decolonizing Place story)
Noel was also an advisor to the ongoing Horse-Human Relationship research being done by Dr. Angela McGinnis and her grad student Kelsey Moore. (See Opening a doorway to culture story)
As a survivor/thriver of Lebret Indian Residential School, Noel was featured in the Shattering the Silence: The Hidden History of Indian Residential Schools ebook published by our Faculty in 2017 (see Noel Starblanket )
For alumni Leia Laing and Naomi Fortier-Fréçon (also a grad student) working on the award-winning Treaty4Project, Noel “was essential in the creation of this educational project.”
Noel Starblanket was central in guiding the teachers in their understanding of treaty and the history of relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Naomi Fortier-Fréçon says, “His presence allowed us to learn in a personal way about the importance of treaties. He also guided us regarding the respect of Indigenous protocols and offered support to our students.” Because of his essential role, the teachers invited Starblanket to go to Ottawa with them to receive the Governor General’s History Award. Starblanket says, “I didn’t expect to go. I was merely doing my job, helping out the students and the teachers and I didn’t expect any recognition or acknowledgment. When they asked me to go, I was thrilled.” Starblanket was also happy the teachers were being “recognized for what they were doing for treaty education in the province,” especially because of where they were teaching, in a middle-class school in which the majority of students were non-Indigenous. “I was pleased to help them understand and to impart what I have acquired over the years about treaty. … I hold them dear and close to my heart. What they do—they are very generous. I love them, both of them,” says Starblanket (Treaty4Project )
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