The Wetaskiwin and District Heritage Museum – Women of Aspenland acknowledges and celebrates the life of the Late Florence Buffalo (Red Pheasant Woman) on October 17, 2015. The Woman of Aspenland is a documentation and exhibit project. Its purpose is to tell and preserve the stories of women in our communities who represent something about who we have been in the past, who we are in the present and who we would like to be in the future” cited from the Women of Aspenland introduction sheet. The event was held as close as possible to the October 18 date which is when the “Alberta’s famous five (Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Edwards) established under law that woman were considered people and could hold position such as Senators.” says Karen Aberle- Executive Director and Chief Curator. Through a Nominations process from Wetaskiwin & District Heritage Museum, Women of Aspenland Nomination form, three names made it to the honourable list; Lillian Klone, Dorothy French and Late Florence Buffalo were chosen as they all come from the communities of Wetaskiwin City, Wetaskiwin County and Maskwacis. The nominations criteria includes; The uniqueness of their contribution to the community, Whether the community was a better place because of the woman’s life work , Whether the community generally held these woman in high regard, which includes their selflessness and incredible dedication to enriching the lives of others. We all know Late Florence Buffalo fit the criteria.
Florence was a kind and loving individual. She dedicated her life to bettering her community, and always tried hardest to put a smile on every ones faces. Florence passed away on November 29, 2014 and to respect the traditions of Cree culture and the family and friends of Florence, her picture will not be displayed until after a full year of mourning has passed.” I would like to thank her family, I know this has been a difficult time for them and I would like to thank them for helping me keep a promise I made to Florence.” says Aberle. Born in Kehewin in 1938, Florence was the one of nine children; her parents were Sarah and Billy Dion. The family lived off the land growing what food they could and hunted the rest. When Florence was 8 years old, she was forced to attend Blue Quills Indian Residential School, where she stayed until completing grade eight. She then attended Olds Agriculture training, which is where she met her future husband Frank Buffalo. Frank and Florence were married on November 20, 1956 and had 10 children. They lived in Kehewin until 1966 when they moved to Maskwacis. Shortly after moving they sent their children to live with an aunt so they could go to school. While in Samson, Florence became involved in band politics. She served as council member for 33 years and during that time was elected Chief in 1997 – 2000. As the First female Chief in Samson she faced difficult situations and protests, but she carried on and finished her term with determination and compassion. Florence had an incredible sense of humour; she loved to laugh and loved to make others laugh. She would tell humorous stories about her childhood, like the time she sat yodeling with a lard bucket stuck on her head. Florence taught her family the importance of respect, forgiveness and spirituality, she was an excellent Cree Speaker and before public speaking, she would always give thanks to the Creator. She would also pray morning, afternoon and night and remind others to pray as well. Florence was much loved in our community as a compassionate, caring and often humorous member of Samson Cree Nation, she was our fearless leader, our friend, our Sister, our Aunt, our Nohkom (Grand-Mother), our Chapan (Great Grand-Mother). The women of Aspenland nominated Late Florence in 2014 before her passing , so she was very aware of the induction, “the plan was in the works, but due to her schedule we were unable to connect” .says Aberle. Other Maskwacis community members that have also been Inductees are Late Nancy Samson in 1996 and Late Theresa Wildcat in 2006. Her personal Items will be on Exhibit for One Year, and you can view the Exhibit at The Wetaskiwin & District Heritage Museum, 5007 – 50 Avenue, Wetaskiwin, Alberta.