Brass, Eleanor (1905–92)

Eleanor Brass, August 1987.
Roy Antal (Regina Leader-Post)

Eleanor Brass (née Dieter) was born on the Peepeekisis Reserve on May 1, 1905. Her ancestors included two treaty signers, Chief Gabriel Cote and Chief Okanese. She attended high school in Canora, but went to work before graduation, and in 1925 married Hector Brass, also from Peepeekisis. Concerned about the difficulties facing First Nations people, Brass sought to redress them and to educate the White public. In 1944 she became the first woman executive to serve as the secretary-treasurer of the Association of Indians of Saskatchewan; she also helped to establish and run groups like the Indian Friendship Centre in Regina. For several years she was employed by the provincial government to advance Native employment. After retirement, she worked in Alberta, becoming Director of the Peace River Friendship Centre and serving as correspondent for Alberta Native Communication. Her writing career had begun in 1949 when “Breaking the Barriers” appeared in the Regina Leader-Post . She wrote extensively in magazines and newspapers, including columns in the Leader-Post and the Melville Advance . She authored two books: Medicine Boy and Other Cree Tales (1979) and the autobiographical I Walk in Two Worlds (1987). In 1991 the University of Toronto gave Brass an honorary degree in Literature. She died on May 20, 1992, in Regina.

Daria Coneghan