Freda Ahenakew

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Freda Ahenakew
Born (1932-02-11)February 11, 1932
Ahtahkakoop 104, Saskatchewan
Died April 8, 2011(2011-04-08) (aged 79)
Occupation Author
Alma mater University of Saskatchewan
University of Manitoba
Genre Children's Literature
Notable awards Order of Canada
Saskatchewan Order of Merit

Freda Ahenakew, CM SOM (February 11, 1932 – April 8, 2011) was a Canadian author and academic of Cree descent.[1][2] Ahenakew was considered a leader in Indigenous language preservation and literary heritage preservation in Canada.[3] She was a sister-in-law to the political activist David Ahenakew.


Freda Ahenakew was born in Ahtahkakoop, Saskatchewan.[3] Ahenakew would proceed to have 12 children, only to return to follow her educational goals in 1968, where she attended high school with 9 of her children.[3] She would obtain her Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan in 1979 while teaching Cree language.[3] From 1976 to 1981, she taught at the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College, the Lac La Ronge Band, and the Saskatchewan survival school.

In 1984, she received a Master of Arts in Cree linguistics from the University of Manitoba,[3] working closely with Professor H.C. Wolfart.[4] From 1983 to 1985, she was an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan. She was the director of the Saskatchewan Indian Languages Institute from 1985 until 1989. After leading the Institute, she was a professor in Native studies at the University of Manitoba until her 1996 retirement.[3]

Ahenakew has been the recipient of numerous honorary awards including an honorary degree from the University of Saskatchewan.[citation needed] She was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1998[5] and was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2005.[6]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Cree Language Structures: A Cree Approach. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press (1987)
  • "wâskahikaniwiyiniw-âcimowina / Stories of the House People. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press" (1987) Coeditor.
  • How the Birch Tree Got its Stripes: A Cree Story for Children (1988)
  • How the Mouse Got Brown Teeth: A Cree Story for Children (1988)
  • kôhkominawak otâcimowiniwâwa. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press (1992) Coeditor.
  • "kinêhiyâwiwininaw nêhiyawêwin / The Cree Language Is Our Identity: The La Ronge Lectures of Sarah Whitecalf. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press" (1993) Coeditor.
  • Their example showed me the way (1997) Coeditor.
  • Wisahkecahk Flies to the Moon (1999)
  • âh-âyîtaw isi ê-kî-kiskêyihtahkik maskihkiy / They Knew Both Sides of Medicine: Cree Tales of Curing and Cursing Told by Alice Ahenakew (2000) Coeditor.
  • ana kâ-pimwêwêhahk okakêskihkêmowina / The Counseling Speeches of Jim Kâ-Nîpitêhtêw (2007) Co editor.


  1. ^ "Freda Ahenakew". Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Freda Ahenakew's Obituary by The Star Phoenix". Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Gretchen M. Bataille; Laurie Lisa (12 June 2001). Native American women: a biographical dictionary. Taylor & Francis. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-415-93020-8. Retrieved 2 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Another good Anthropologist: H.C. Wolfart | That Môniyâw Linguist
  5. ^ "Edited Hansard". Parliament of Canada. February 1999. Retrieved 25 March 2010. 
  6. ^ "Members of U of S Community Receive Saskatchewan Order of Merit". University of Saskatchewan. October 2005. Retrieved 25 March 2010.