Mildred Gottfriedson

Oil on Canvas, 20 x 24, 1984

Mildred Gottfriendson
Educator, Activist, Community builder
Secwepemc (Shuswap)

Mildred Gottfriedson
  • From the Kamloops Reserve in Kamloops, British Columbia.
  • Named Mother of the Year, both provincially (1963) and federally in 1964.
  • Raised 23 children and has 45 grandchildren.
  • Received the Order of Canada in 1977, the first First Nations individual to receive this honour.

“As a matriarch and true leader, our mother was the backbone of our family.” - JoAnne Gottfriedson

“It’s not just the government. It’s the attitude that has developed. We hear this all the time; a lot of Indian people blame the government, but it is up to the Indian people to change some of the things that are happening." - Mildred Gottfriedson

From her own family to the Kamloops Reserve to the North American Indian Brotherhood, Mildred Gottfriedson was a voice for community. Gottfriedson raised 13 children, fostered over 20 children and participated eloquently in local and national politics, speaking on everything from land claims issues to the integration of schools. Locally, she organized social aid workers, teachers’ aides, community health workers and cultural education programs, fostering connections and interaction between the Kamloops Reserve and the City of Kamloops through a women’s softball club she founded. Her excellent horsemanship skills were passed on to her children, along with traditional arts and crafts. Gottfriedson spoke for First Nations women’s rights and federal voting rights for all First Nations people. She served on both the National Education Committee and the National Indian Cultural Committee. She was extremely active in her traditional way of life, a fluent speaker of Secwepemc, and sponsored a revival of tribal culture through language, crafts and traditional dance. In addition, she was awarded the Order of Canada in 1977, making her the first First Nations person in Canada to receive that honour.

For more information about First Nations in B.C., resources available at UBC, or information about these individuals, visit the Resources section.