Peter Dubois – 1927 – 2002
Peter Dubois was known across Canada as a tireless crusader for First Nations rights and a minister of harmony between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal peoples. He was deeply involved for a half century locally, provincially and nationally in promoting social and educational opportunities for Aboriginal peoples and, providing programming models for future generations of Aboriginal peoples across Canada.
Peter Dubois was born on the Mucowpetung First Nation near Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan in 1927. He completed his high school education at the Qu’Appelle Indian Residential School. He married Marj Keepness (also from Muscowpetung) in 1952. Following a call that he felt in his heart to be a Minister of the Gospel and with the encouragement and support of his wife, he studied theology at a Baptist College in Edmonton, Alberta.
Sometime later, Peter shifted his career focus to social policy and programs, emerging as a voice and presence in First Nations politics. He became Chief of the Muscowpetung First Nation and then was elected as First Vice-Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations in the 1960’s. During that decade, he locked horns with Jean Chretien, Minister of Indian Affairs at the time, over the development of the controversial “white paper”. He then changed his career to serve Aboriginal people through the provision of federal programming in the 1970’s. Then, at the end of that decade, Peter moved his attention to the needs of Aboriginal people at home, becoming part of a movement of volunteers from the Fort Qu’Appelle area that formed the Qu’Appelle Valley Friendship Centre.
Peter served on the Board of Directors from its date of incorporation in 1981 until 1983. He was then selected to be the first Executive Director of the corporation – a position he held until his retirement seventeen years later in 2000. During that time he also contributed to the Friendship Centre Movement at the provincial and national levels, serving as Executive Secretary of the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) when the Aboriginal Friendship Centre Program was transferred over to the NAFC by the Government of Canada in 1996.
Peter was also pivotal in the founding of key Aboriginal institutions in Canada that paved the way for many other similar programs. The First Nations University of Canada (formerly the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (now known as the First Nations University of Canada), the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre, the Saskatchewan Indian Community College (now known as the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology), as well as the Qu’Appelle Valley Friendship Centre are lasting tributes to a great pioneer, a fighter and protector of treaty rights, and a champion of race relations.
Of all these, Peter most loved to bring people of all races together. He had a great interest in bridging the gap between Aboriginal and Non-aboriginal people in the spirit of Friendship, and that is where he felt most at home.
Not long after Peter left his position as Executive Director of the Qu’Appelle Valley Friendship Centre in 2000 at age 73, he fought a successful battle with cancer. He spent the next while devoting more of his time to his family, which he felt suffered due to degree of activity in the community over his life. He then lost his wife of a half century when she lost her own battle with cancer. Peter was deeply shaken by the loss of his wife who was a rock of faith, loyalty, and encouragement to him for a half century. His faith, friends and children, grandchildren and great grandchildren helped him through this difficult time, along with his lifelong interest in hockey (which he actively played until age 72 in 1999).
In 2002, Peter left this world when his vehicle was tragically stuck from behind by a drunken driver. Not long before he passed on to be with his wife, Peter was honoured by the Board, staff and membership of the Qu’Appelle Valley Friendship Centre as a founding pioneer of the local Friendship Centre Movement. He and his amazing accomplishments over a life of care and concern for all people will never be forgotten.