Doreen Spence, a woman of the Cree nation, was born in 1937 in northern Alberta, near the Good Fish Lake Reserve. Raised primarily by her grandparents, she moved to Calgary at eighteen after winning a scholarship to attend a small Christian college there. She went on to a long career as a nurse. Spence also spent decades involved in struggles related to indigenous peoples’ experiences of education. In particular, she was president of the board of the Plains Indian Cultural Survival School (PICSS) in Calgary — the first school run for and by indigenous people in an urban area in Canada. Her words, with those of interview participant Donna MacPhee, are at the heart of one of the chapters in Gender and Sexuality: Canadian History Through the Stories of Activists.
Material from Spence on this site:
- A four and a half minute clip of her talking about an incident in the 1950s when she was working in a hospital in northern Alberta — she stood up to the hospital administration against the involuntary sterilization of a young indigenous girl:
- A seven minute audio clip of her sharing some of her memories of her involvement with PICSS.