March 1, 1931 – July 15, 2020
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Grandma Harris. Grandma Harris will always be known for her formidable energy, strength, wisdom, and down to earth straightforwardness. She always shared her knowledge and teachings with an open and loving heart. Her achievements were extraordinary, but her greatest legacy is all those she touched.
Grandma Harris was instrumental to the Dancers of Damelahamid. Her years of experience and her wealth of traditional knowledge and wisdom is invaluable in guiding our family and beyond. Grandma Harris was a respected Cree Elder from Northern Manitoba who spent a large part of her life on the West Coast of BC. As an Indigenous knowledge and performing arts instructor, she deeply influenced the current generation of artists. This included her work at the Institute of Indigenous Government in Vancouver, BC (1994 – 2003) and the Traditional Mothers Dance Group, Vancouver, BC (1992 – 2015). Grandma Harris was instrumental in the revitalization of Coastal dance in the communities of Metlakatla, Alaska & Port Simpson, BC, through the First Nations Dance Revival Initiatives (1973 –
1977). For this work, a pole was raised in her honour at the Metlakatla Indian Community Founders Day Celebration (2003). With her husband, the late Chief Kenneth Harris, Margaret founded the Haw Yaw Hawni Naw Annual Salmon Festival (1967 – 1986) in Prince Rupert, BC. Margaret owned LaHaine Arts and Crafts art store and studio in Prince Rupert, BC (1973 – 1983). As a foster parent she cared for over 50 Indigenous children between 1957-1986.
Grandma Harris and late Chief Kenneth Harris were recognized for the impact that they had in Indigenous performing arts, receiving the Centennial Medal from Queen Elizabeth (1967), the Golden Jubilee Medal from British Columbia’s Lieutenant Governor (2003), and were inducted into the National DCD Hall of Fame (2019).
She is survived by sons Bruce Harris (Julie), Stewart Harris (Minnie), daughters Melony Wick (Brian), Margaret Grenier (Andrew), Rachael Helgason (Christopher), grandchildren Scott, Rob, Ben, Tobie, Bolton, Dannycia, Nigel, Raven, Avary, great- grandchildren Jacob, Daniel, Renee, Michelle, Violet, Pisim-Mohtew, Mixk’aax and her many nieces, nephews and foster children that all held a very special place in her heart.
The family asks for quietness during these times. Further information regarding a celebration of life will be released at a later date.
Photo credit: Liliana ReyesObituary
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