Olive Patricia Dickason
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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.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Ottawa Citizen from Mar. 14 to Mar. 15, 2011.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Anne Dickason, Daughter
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18 entries
July 26, 2017
I miss and grieve Olive today, as I ruminate over the indigenous protesters on parliament hill on what they saw as an 'alleged' 150th Canada Day. She was a helpful colleague, warm mentor and, I like to think, personal friend to me. I knew her as the women's editor of the Globe & Mail in 1956 and a fellow member of the Media Club of Ottawa. Imagine what she has done with her book, Canada's First Nations. She has given the Amerindians and Inuit their history, and how much our direction is bound to change as a result! I remember her with love and respect. The last time we met was accidentally in the cafeteria of the National Archives building and she helped me with my research for a book involving the Cree.
Margaret Virany
August 7, 2016
A very belated note on behalf of the Media Club of Ottawa: Olive was a long-time member of our club (a branch of the former Canadian Women's Press Club.) and in the years since she left us her quiet presence at meetings has been missed. Personally, I also miss other times spent with her that were not part of club events. It was a privilege to have known her.
June Coxon
September 14, 2012
Thanks Olive for your great work. And thank you for your lovely daughter Anne.
Neil Lundy
April 28, 2011
I'm so sorry to hear that she passed away. She was clearly an amazing, loving, resourceful, dedicated woman, with genius to spare! I celebrate her incredible accomplishments that clearly contributed to the betterment of Canadian society and to the Aboriginal peoples in particular. One can only aspire to manifest oneself as fully as Dr. Dickason did. She is a wonderful role model for all people who strive to make their lives have meaning and who seek to work towards the greater good. I would love to look back on my life at 91 and be able to say that what I said, did and stood for helped as many others as she did...I know that she also leaves a family legacy of wonderful people behind. My condolences to her family and friends.
Tanya Sulatyski
March 22, 2011
Olive Dickason is one of those rare individuals who have, often unintentionally, transformed society's norms through her own personal struggles to stay alive, healthy, and both personally and financially viable. My sincere condolences to her family.
Jean Crozier
March 19, 2011
March 19, 2011

Olive Dickason was an inspiration and model to all Métis women and writers, including myself. Her strength, resiliency and generosity enabled her to follow her dreams, pursue her studies and write the history of Aboriginal peoples from a different perspective. May her family also celebrate and perpetuate their Métis heritage.

Mârci bein Olive et reposes en paix

Diane Payment,
author of Li Gens Libres: A History of the Métis Community of Batoche.
March 17, 2011
Olive Dickason helped pioneer the field of Aboriginal history in Canada. Her determination and clarity of purpose enabled her to overcome a myriad of obstacles that stood in her way. Her contribution to the historiography of Canada's Native Peoples will be her enduring legacy.
She will be remembered as someone who exercised the full potential of human agency in order to leave the community into which she was born in a far better condition.
Sincere condolences to her family and friends
Michael Behiels
March 17, 2011
Olive and our mother, Carlotta Blue were long-time friends. Condolences to your family from the Blue family. We all admired her very much.
Jay Blue
March 16, 2011
I knew Dr. Dickason when I was a young girl, and she inspired a thirst for research in me. I remember listening in to all the wise words, all the witty words, of her and her friends as they ate together in a women's dinner group. On behalf of my family, I send our love and admiration.
Ginger Gibson
March 15, 2011
On behalf of my brother Patrick and my sister Mary, I extend our deepest sympathy to Dr. Dickason's family.

Olive was smart, wise, funny, beautiful, and accomplished in ways too numerous to list. She also was a cherished and dear friend of our mother's.

One of my most valued keepsakes is her book, "Indian Arts in Canada", which she gave me as a birthday gift in 1973. She autographed it "stay sassy." I have.

So many wonderful memories -- Ottawa, Edmonton, Paris, Toronto.

Rest in peace, Dr. Dickason.
Anne Sarsfield
March 15, 2011
I was deeply saddened to learn of Olive's passing. Olive was my model and hero when i was a grad student. Although I did not get to know her on a personal level, whenever we saw each other at conferences we had wonderful chats. She was always very encouraging and that meant a lot to me. To me Olive Dickason contributed to a dramatic change in Canadian history and historical writing about Aboriginal (or Amerindian as she put it)peoples in Canada, but also elsewhere. I consider her first book The Myth of the Savage one of the most important books in Canadian scholarly writing. I still use that book both for my undergraduate and graduate courses in my teaching. For us engaged in Aboriginal/Native/Indigenousor historical studies, Olive's passing is a great loss. It is a also a gret loss on a human level - i loved Olive's energy and spirited personality and her passion for corrective scholarship. She leaves a great intellectual legacy for all the young and upcoming Aboriginal scholars. My thoughts are with her family. I will miss her.
Dr. Emma LaRocque
March 15, 2011
The Aboriginal community grieves the departure from this world of a great Métis women, the historian Dr. Olive Patricia Dickason. It is Difficult to even begin to describe the importance of the intellectual legacy of such a thinker. This loss is heavy since Olive Dickason, through her work and through the example of courageous living, has marked all members of our Canadian society.

On behalf of the Program of Aboriginal Studies at the University of Ottawa,

Dr. Georges Sioui, Coordinator Program of Aboriginal Studies
March 15, 2011
I met Professor Olive Dickason about ten years ago and had the pleasure of hearing her speak and enjoying her company as a dinner guest on a couple of occasions. I have also used her amazing writings on First Peoples in my university teaching. Olive was a most impressive woman - so regal, accomplished, learned, with a razor-sharp mind. I first encountered her through her impressive and prodigious scholarship, but then was delighted to meet and converse with such a charming, lively, intelligent person, then in her early 80s. She is unforgettable and an amazing role model for First Nations peoples and for women and scholars everywhere.
My sincere condolences to Olive's family,
Daiva K Stasiulis
March 14, 2011
To the family of Ms. Dickason,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time. She was a lovely patient at our dental office for many years. She will be missed.


Dr. John Izzard and staff
March 14, 2011
Olive your were an amazing women. I remember after a women's leadership gathering at the University of Ottawa. We went walking late at night over the Ottawa canal, you still had so much spunk and spirit. You truly are true inspiration for all us Aboriginal women. Gasongi
Gasongi S
March 14, 2011
Olive and I met in the Manuscript Reading
Room on the 3rd floor of the Public Archives of Canada in 1970 when she was undertaking graduate work at the University of Ottawa and I was doing my Ph.D. thesis at the University of Western Ontario. Both of us ere involved in First Nations history, not then a highly-regarded field. She noted a set of Henry Schoolcraft's History of the Indians of the United States on the bookshelf and asked, with piercing voice and gaze, "Who is reading Schoolcraft?" I replied that I was and we have been friends and colleagues ever since. I wrote reference letters for Olive during her time at Alberta and last saw her during a visit with her friend Barbara McNabb near Melbourne, Ontario some years ago.
Olive was a supportive friend, a thoughtful and amiably challenging colleague and a gifted scholar. We will all miss her no-nonsense presence and her looking-right-through-you countenance.
Blessings to her family as they celebrate a long and extraordinary life.
Douglas Leighton
March 14, 2011
Olive Dickason
March 14, 2011
I remember Olive when she was women's editor of the Montreal Gazette and I worked on the women's and social pages of the Montreal Star. She was a woman of integrity and honour. At that time her chief concerns were her children whom she had to have in foster care, as she could not work and look after them at the same time. She missed them dreadfully during her work week. She was a woman I much admired.
Elizabeth Murray
Elizabeth Murray
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