Dr. Olive Patricia Dickason C.M., Ph.D., D.Litt. Peacefully passed away on March 12, 2011 at the age of 91. Loving mother of Anne, Clare and Roberta. Olive was one of Canada's foremost historians, contributing greatly to our understanding and knowledge of Aboriginal and Metis People. Throughout her career as a journalist, professor, and scholar she was an inspiration and role model for students, women and her Aboriginal community. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on March 6, 1920, Olive completed high school by correspondence as her English father and Metis mother eked out a living in the remote Northern Manitoba woods. In what would be a pattern in her life, she defied convention and received a B.A. in Philosophy and French from the all boys Notre Dame College in Wilcox Saskatchewan thanks to the kindness of Pere Athol Murray. For the next 23 years, Olive enjoyed a successful career in journalism with several Canadian daily papers. Beginning with the Regina Leader - Post, she later worked as a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, as Women's Editor for the Montreal Gazette and the Toronto Globe and Mail. At the age of 50 and with her children nearly grown, Olive decided to return to academics, in part, to improve an historic record woefully inadequate with respect to Canada's First Nations. She received her M.A. in Canadian History from the University of Ottawa in 1972 and a Ph.D. in 1977. Her dissertation, "The Myth of the Savage" and the Beginning of French Colonialism in the Americas was published by the University of Alberta Press. Subsequently, and in a relatively short period, she published many significant works that have made a difference in Canadians' understanding of their country's Aboriginal heritage, including the prodigious, "Canada's First Nations": A History of Founding Peoples. This book's fourth edition was recently published in 2009. For her contribution to Canadian history, Olive was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1996, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation in 1997. In celebration of a life well lived, a memorial service will be held at Beechwood National Memorial Centre, 280 Beechwood Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario (613-741-9530) on Thursday, March 17th, 2011 at 11 am. In memory of Olive, a donation may be made to a charity of your choice.
Published in Ottawa Citizen from Mar. 14 to Mar. 15, 2011.