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Freda Ahenakew
Born (1932-02-11)February 11, 1932
Ahtahkakoop 104, Saskatchewan
Died April 8, 2011(2011-04-08) (aged 79)
Occupation Author
Alma mater University of Saskatchewan
University of Manitoba
Genre Children's Literature
Notable awards Order of Canada
Saskatchewan Order of Merit

Freda Ahenakew CM SOM (February 11, 1932 – April 8, 2011) was a Canadian author and academic of Cree descent. Ahenakew was considered a leader in Indigenous language preservation and literary heritage preservation in Canada. She was a sister-in-law to the political activist David Ahenakew.


Freda Ahenakew was born in Ahtahkakoop, Saskatchewan, the second of eight children. Her parents were Edward and Annie (née Bird) Ahenakew. She spent some of her teenage years living at St. Alban's Residential School in Prince Albert, and attended the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute.

Ahenakew married Harold Greyeyes (who attended Qu'Appelle Indian Residential School, then worked with the Saskatchewan Indian Agricultural Program through FSIN) from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation (which henceforth made her a member of the same), and together they had 12 children. She would later return to follow her educational goals in 1968, where she attended high school with 9 of her children. In 1979, she obtained her Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan while teaching Cree language. Her marriage to Greyeyes ended the same year. Between 1976 and 1981, she found employment teaching at the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College, the Lac La Ronge Band, and the Saskatchewan Survival School (now the Joe Duquette High School) in Saskatoon.

In 1984, she received a Master of Arts in Cree linguistics from the University of Manitoba, working closely with Professor H.C. Wolfart. Her Master's thesis, "Cree Language Structures", was later published. From 1983 to 1985, she was an assistant professor in the Native Studies department of University of Saskatchewan. She was the director of the Saskatchewan Indian Languages Institute from 1985 until 1989. After leading the Institute, she was a professor in Native studies at the University of Manitoba until her 1996 retirement.

Ahenakew has been the recipient of numerous honorary awards including an honorary degree from the University of Saskatchewan. She was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1998 and was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2005.

In 2016, a branch of the Saskatoon Public Library was named for Freda Ahenakew.

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