66 years old
By Willow Lake Métis Nation
Mary McKenzie is a respected and incredibly supportive Elder of the Willow Lake Métis Nation. Born in Anzac, Alberta, Mary has shared a considerable amount of traditional knowledge with people from all walks of life and all ages. Her teachings have been critical to the Nation’s cultural and historical preservation – her continued efforts will ensure these teachings are passed on.
Mary’s cultural teachings have taken many forms, though perhaps some of her most special contributions are her sharing of knowledge through art and storytelling. Mary has taught her art to many children and adults throughout her lifetime, some of which she attributes to learning from her mother. These art forms include, but are not limited to, art beading, sewing, painting, carving and weaving. Her storytelling was included in a book of Northern Alberta Métis elders’ stories, where she shared How the Black Poplar Got Its Sacred Bark. This tale was also told to the students at Bill Woodward School in Anzac, AB.
In 2022, Mary was recognized for her contributions to her community and to Anzac as a recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal. As a descendant of one of the historical Métis families in Anzac / Willow Lake, her willingness to share her culture with all those around her to foster community and understanding and preserve important knowledge has had a profound impact on all those fortunate enough to spend time with her.