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Norris, Malcolm (1900–67)

Malcolm Norris (centre) with J.C. Paulsen (left) and Saskatchewan Government Airways pilot Al Hartley at MacIntosh Bay, Lake Athabasca, July 1948.
Saskatchewan Archives Board R-A9302

A Métis leader and political activist, Malcolm Norris was born on May 26, 1900, in Edmonton, Alberta. The son of John Norris, a wealthy Scottish settler, and Euphrosine Plante, a Métis from St. Albert, Alberta, Norris grew up proud of his Métis heritage. One of the most influential Métis leaders of the 20th century, he began working for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1919, but soon quit because of its discriminating trading methods. An avid socialist, Norris began in the 1920s to address the racism faced by Aboriginal people, and in the 1930s worked with other Métis leaders in organizing L’Association des Métis de l’Alberta. In 1944, Norris was hired by the CCF in Saskatchewan to support their northern reform programs. Norris had high hopes for this newly elected democratic-socialist government, and brought his long-time friend Jim Brady to the province when the CCF gained power. During this time, Norris continued to be an outspoken defender of Aboriginal rights and traveled throughout northern Saskatchewan, educating and politicizing the Métis while working toward the complete economic independence of northern Aboriginal people. In 1964, the Saskatchewan CCF was defeated and Norris lost his position. He then became director of the Prince Albert Indian and Métis Friendship Centre, and in 1964 started with Jim Brady the Métis Association of Saskatchewan, which was based only in the province’s north. In 1966, Norris suffered a stroke but continued his political career, confined to a wheelchair. In 1967, he returned to Alberta, where he suffered another stroke and passed away on December 5, 1967, in St. Albert.

Cheryl Troupe

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Further Reading

Dobbin, M. 1987. The One-And-a-Half Men: The Story of Jim Brady & Malcolm Norris, Métis Patriots of the 20th Century. Regina: Gabriel Dumont Institute.
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