Community mourns beloved Cree educator, leader and ‘truth teller’ dies

An instrumental educator from Canada’s first Indigenous-led post-secondary institution is being remembered as a dedicated teacher and “truth teller.”

Vincent Steinhauer died Monday of a sudden heart attack at his home in Saddle Lake Cree Nation, the northern Alberta community where he grew up.

He was 54.

Before his death, Steinhauer was in the process of developing a grant-funded film about treaty rights, working along with his sister, Diana.

Steinhauer became the president of Blue Quills University in 2012, when it was a college. The school outside St. Paul, Alta., is owned and operated by Indigenous people. The university is on the same site as a former residential school many of Steinhauer’s own family members attended.

Steinhauer told CBC in a 2014 interview that he welled up with pride reflecting of how the community had transformed the school.

“When my eyes light up, it is from the generations of vision it took to get to this space we are in right now, and move it forward so our children can learn our own identity.”

During his time as Blue Quills president, Steinhauer became a founding member of the First Nations Adult and Higher Education Consortium, an initiative that promotes and fosters Indigenous education around the world.

Patricia Makokis, a previous Blue Quills president, said she started working with Steinhauer nearly 20 years ago at a treatment centre for youth. She said his teachings drew not only on his own research (in 2017, he earned a PhD from Blue Quills in Indigenous governance), but also on generations of traditional knowledge.

“He had the academic training, but few people have what he had in terms of the ceremonial — the Indigenous knowledge training,” she told CBC’s Radio Active on Thursday.

“[It meant that] he had essentially two PhDs, and he threaded it together [with] kindness and love and honesty, and he shared it with everybody.”

Her son, Dr. James Makokis, said Steinhauer also worked as an instructor at Yellowhead Tribal College and reconnected a younger generation with ceremonies many of them had lost.

“He impacted the lives of many people by bringing them closer to understanding who they are as Indigenous people, and in doing so made them healthier, made their families healthier, and made their nations healthier,” he said.

Patricia Makokis said Steinhauer’s legacy will carry on through his family.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters and four sons.

“Already I’ve seen some of his children stepping into the ceremony,” she said.

Makokis said Steinhauer had his leg amputated from complications with diabetes, and she recently saw his  son help him enter a sweat lodge.

“His son would literally take him out of the wheelchair, lift him down onto the ground and help him get into that sweat lodge, where we would all crawl in … pray and sing together, and continue that cycle of life and ceremony together, young and old together,” she said.

He had the academic training, but few people have what he had in terms of the ceremonial — the Indigenous knowledge training.– Patricia Makokis

His children are continuing traditions just as Steinhauer carried on the legacy of his own father, she said.  

“His late father, Mike said, ‘Let us live the life the Creator meant for us to live,’ and Vincent lived that life; he lived it every day,” said Makokis.

“He was a truth teller. And being a truth teller, sometimes it’s hard for people to hear that truth: the colonized story — the trauma story — but [it was] always with love and kindness in those teachings. And he was well respected across this land for knowledge, because it took him a lifetime to learn what he had.”

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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

Originally posted 2019-03-01 19:15:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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