Honourary Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Senator Olivine (Olive) Tiedema, died on April 13, 2018, at the age of 90.
Senator Olive Tiedema, née Bousquet, Skura, will be missed by her children Sharon (Robert), Denise (Ed), Eric (Sue), Greg (Pat), Steven (Virginia), and Len, as well as grandchildren, great grandchildren and sister Annette.
Senator Olive was the granddaughter of Napoleon Bousquet and his wife Camille Carrière and grew up in St. Boniface, Man.
She served on the Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) as a Senator from 2002 to 2005.
On behalf of the Métis Nation, MNO President Margaret Froh expressed her condolences to Olive’s family.
“Honorary Senator Olivine Tiedema will be profoundly missed at the Métis Nation of Ontario. She will be remembered for her amazing spirit, knowledge and passion for Métis culture,” stated Froh. “We are blessed to have been a part of her journey and my thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Senator Olive received the Rochon-Burnett Volunteer of the Year Award from the MNO in 2012 for her work in founding three MNO Community Councils, the MNO Toronto and York Region Métis Council, Oshawa-Durham Region Métis Council (ODRMC) and Credit River Métis Council.
The ODRMC named its youth dance troupe the Olivine Bousquet Métis Dancers in her honour for her 80th birthday.
In her support of the dancers, Olive made and sold medicine bags as a fundraiser and wore the dance troupe’s sash, which displays her picture.
“Olivine loved to dance, she was a jigger and so now I choose to believe that she’s dancing,” said Honourary MNO Senator Ruth Wagner. “She was just an amazing woman.”
Wagner said Olive wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and was known for it.
“She meant well and was to the point, I don’t think she had a mean bone in her body. She was also a caring, loving, hard-working lady.”
She also cared deeply about her Métis culture.
“She worked so hard to bring Métis culture to people,” she said, adding when Olive first moved to Toronto she felt the lack of her Métis culture terribly. To overcome it, she helped found the Toronto and York Region Métis Council, and then when she moved across the region she did it again.
“She kept being an advocate for the Métis people and knit scarves and made bags and donated them to be sold. She did things non-stop for the Métis Nation.”
Her passion for Métis rights started early.
According to the Métis Museum, Olive went to grade school with Rita Riel, a niece of Louis Riel at Academy St. Joseph in St. Boniface, Manitoba. During her schooling the nuns taught a negative description of Louis Riel and referred to the Métis as traitors. Olive would later recount how she refused to write their version of history when she was tested, and as a result, she never passed French History. After spending three years in Grade 8, she left school when she was 16.
PCMNO Executive Senator Joseph Poitras said Olive was a trailblazer and his mentor.
“She was the spark that kept everything going,” he said.
Poitras said Olive was instrumental in teaching him about the MNO and also helping him accept and embrace being Métis.
“I admired and liked her very much.”
In a Facebook post, her granddaughter Amanda Strong said, “She was a warrior. The centre of my being and all that I am creating. She fought so hard for us to have a better life and opportunities that many from her time were stripped of … a tough life, a tough woman, a fighter, a rebel, a role model, a beautiful spirit.”
In Olive’s account in the book Métis in Canada: History, Identity, Law and Politics, she said she got a phone call in 1992 about the founding of the MNO.
“I really started to put my best foot forward and tried to learn more about my culture.”
It was when MNO Oshawa and Durham Region Métis Council Senator Cecile Wagar joined the Oshawa Durham Métis Council that she met Olive and became close friends.
“She told it like it was, but was very encouraging for everyone, especially young Métis kids,” Wagar said.
Olive also knew how to lighten up a crowd. Wagar said that during events, or even after prayers, she would break script and crack a joke to break the tension.
One of Wagar’s favourite memories of Olive was when she came over to teach her how to make Bannock and pierogis.
“I considered her a replacement mother after my own mother passed away,” Wagar said. “I’ll miss just being around her.”
A celebration of life will be held May 6, 2018 from 2 – 4 p.m. at 20 Guildwood Parkway, Scarborough.
Posted: April 20, 2018