WINNIPEG, MB – The University of Winnipeg today is mourning with profound sadness the passing of renowned journalist, scholar, elder and Honorary Degree recipient Olive Dickason. Dickason passed away in Ottawa on March 12 at the age of 91.
Born in Winnipeg in 1920, Dickason received an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from UWinnipeg in 2003 for being widely acknowledged as the key figure in making Aboriginal History serious study in Canada’s academic world.
Dickason began a 24-year career in journalism at the Regina Leader-Post and subsequently, worked as a writer and editor at The Winnipeg Free Press, The Montreal Gazette and The Globe and Mail. She promoted coverage of First Nations and Women’s issues, becoming the Women’s Editor at both The Montreal Gazette, and later The Globe and Mail’s daily newspaper and magazine.
At age 50, Dickason decided to continue her education, entering the Graduate program at the University of Ottawa. She had to struggle with faculty preconceptions regarding Aboriginal History – including arguments that it did not exist – before finally finding a professor to act as her academic advisor. Dickason completed her Master’s degree at the University of Ottawa in 1972, at the age of 52. She later went on to successfully defend her Doctoral Thesis, entitled The Myth of the Savage.
Dickason then authored Canada’s First Nations: A History of Founding Peoples from the Earliest Times, the most definitive text on the subject at the time, and one which is still widely in use. She taught at the University of Alberta from 1975 to 1992, and was also an adjunct professor for the University of Ottawa. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 1996 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation in 1997.
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Shawn Coates, Director of Marketing & Communications, University of Winnipeg
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