She was the first woman from the Blood Reserve to earn a post-secondary education, graduating from the University of Alberta in 1966 with a Bachelor’s Degree in sociology and anthropology, reports The Lethbridge Herald.
Marie Smallface Marule, of the Blood Tribe, walked on December 31 at the age of 70.
She was a former president of Red Crow College, but before that she spent time in Africa helping with community development and adult literacy, reports the Herald. While there she met her future husband, a South African named Jacob. They would later have two daughters and raise a grand-neice.
After her time in Africa, she returned to Canada where she worked as executive assistant to Grand Chief George Manuel. She also later became executive director of the National Indian Brotherhood, which would later become the Assembly of First Nations.
Rick Tailfeathers, a friend of Marule, pointed out to the Herald that she helped create the World Council of Indigenous Peoples in the 1970s, and that she deserves credit for that.
“Her vision was to save the Indigenous cultures, language, through education,” Tailfeathers, who met Marule at Cardston High School in Alberta, Canada told the Herald. “She was much older than me, but I used to look up to her as a role model.”
Marule became president of Red Crow College on January 6, 1992 and retired in 2014. She received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award—now Indspire—in 1995 for her work in education.
“Marie was very involved with post-secondary education, not only locally, but nationally and internationally,” Blood Tribe Councillor Dorothy First Rider told the Herald. “She was quite instrumental in the development of the education system and was a strong supporter of First Nations developing their own curriculum from an indigenous perspective. She was a very accomplished person and she left an important legacy not only to her family, but to the Tribe as well.”
First Rider and Marule were also related—First Rider’s grandmother was Marule’s aunt, and they were also both from the Fish Eater clan.
“It is a tremendous loss to the Blood Reserve. All passings are very difficult for all members of the community because each member has something very unique to offer to the tribe as a whole,” First Rider told the Herald. “In the case of Marie, she was always very passionate and committed to the work she was engaged in. She was always passionate and committed to education.”
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, January 10 at 1 p.m. at Senator Gladstone Hall, Blood Reserve.