November 10, 1932 – September 14, 2006
Georgina Donald was the youngest of seven children of David and Denise Grandbois. She was born on November 10, 1932 in Calling Lake, Alberta and was raised in Athabasca. As her mother passed away when she was still young, her sister Lena provided the motherly guidance for her and her siblings (Albert, Paul, John, Jean and Francis).
The Grandbois moved to Edmonton in 1949, and Georgina met the love of her life, Ross shortly thereafter. Georgina and Ross married on February 3, 1951 and celebrated their 49th Wedding Anniversary shortly before his passing on March 17, 2000. Together, Georgina and Ross raised six children Beatrice, Wayne, Dennis, Lyle, Joanne and Brian who in turn brought 26 grandchildren and 43 great-grandchildren.
Georgina worked at the Canadian Native Friendship Centre for 32 years. She started as a volunteer two days a week, then became the Referral Worker, before being promoted as Assistant Executive Director and Executive Director and then requesting the position of Social Programs Director in 1992 and retiring in 1995.
Through her involvement at the Canadian Native Friendship Centre, she was involved in the promotion and implementation of numerous social and recreational programs. Through it all, Métis square dancing and jigging would always be at the core of the Centre’s activities from the early days her children were involved. Years later with her good friend Moise White they created the Canadian Native Friendship Centre Junior Dancers her grand-children would be part of the first cohorts of dancers.
In 1997, Georgina and her son Lyle formally established the Edmonton Métis Cultural Dance Society. Over the years, the group has included many of the grandchildren (Brent, Gina, Jennifer, Jody, Jonathon, Larry, Lynette, Matthew, Michael, Roxanne, Tammy) and great-grandchildren (Brent Jr., Courtney, Elizabeth, Kendel, Nicholas, Nicole, Paige, Tameka) as well as numerous nephews and nieces and many others who considered Ross and Georgina as their parents / grand-parents. Georgina was actively involved with the dance group and joined on almost all trips, however, finding her on pictures is more difficult as the ultimate organizer could usually be found in the background quite far from cameras and spotlights.
The Edmonton Métis Cultural Dance Society, still in operation, her son Lyle Donald, along with Lyle’s children, grandchildren (her great-grandchildren) continue to promote the Métis Dance. Joey Gladue Memorial Jiggers, her granddaughter Jennifer Kootenay, with the help of her daughter Joanne Campbell, teaches the Métis Dances to the children. Jennifer’s children (her great-grandchildren) Nicole, Nicolas and Courtney dance in this group.
Granddaughter, Tammy Donald, teaches the Métis Dance to the children in Wabasca, Alberta. Tammy’s daughter Tameka (her great-grandchild), dances in this group.
Georgina’s dedication and commitment to the community were recognized through numerous awards including:
- Lifetime member of the Canadian Native Friendship Centre (1986)
- Certification of Appreciation – Métis Association of Alberta (1989)
- Hall of Honour – Métis Nation of Alberta (1993)
- Lifetime Member – National Association of Friendship Centres
- Aboriginal Role Models of Alberta – Humanitarian Award (2000)
- Certificate of Acknowledgment – Back to Batoche (2001)
- Queen’s Jubilee (2002)
- Georgina Donald’s Duck Dance (2003) by John Arcand
- Edmonton’s Salute to Excellence – Citation Award (2004)