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Cochrane history: Profile of an indigenous woman educated by nuns and priests

In this week’s local history feature, we go back to a profile in the February 28th, 1985 of the Cochrane Northland Post.

It’s about Sandra Carr, who spent her childhood and teenage years in the Catholic boarding school in Fort Albany, on the James Bay coast.

She, her parents  and two younger sisters lived in a tepee year-round, until the death of her father when she was seven.

Shortly after that, she and sisters Mary and Martha started school at the mission house operated by nuns and priests who spoke only French. She went home some weekends to cut wood with a bucksaw and haul it with a dogsled, as public library archivist Ardis Proulx-Chedore reads from the story.

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“’I had no brothers and the nuns encouraged me to help where I could,’ she said.  She also kept an eye on seniors in the community, bringing them wood and water.”

Carr said it wasn’t any more work to load a bit more onto her sled.

She was 49 when the newpaper ran the people profile about her.

Cochrane Public Library archivist Ardis Proulx-Chedore picks up the story:

“Having attended school for seven years, Sandra worked mainly as a full-time cook at the complex for six more years. In those there there was no such thing as high school for Band children. Now, students wishing to go beyond Grade 8 must go to either North Bay or Timmins.”

Our usual thanks to the library and its archive department.

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