Elder Ruth Elaine Christie, LL.D.
Ruth Christie is a ,”knowledge keeper,” dedicated to passing on her own elders’ teachings of the true history of Indigenous peoples. Christie he has an amazing memory, able to recall the many stories she heard in her youth.
Christie was the first nurse to come out of her community of Loon Straits and she delivered its last baby. And when Loon Straits needed a teacher in 1965, she stepped in.
Christie is humble by nature, and so it is not in her personality to talk about, let alone keep track of, her achievements. She has done a great deal to make people aware of the true history of this area of Manitoba.
Christie has identified variously as a nurse, historian, community member (Loon Straits, Selkirk and Peguis First Nation), storyteller, mother, grandmother (kokum) to many -- including some who aren’t her biological children – great -grandmother, elder and mentor. She graduated in 1960 from the St. Boniface Hospital Licensed Practical Nursing program. Christie, who has a love of history, is passing down the stories she heard from her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother.
She has also worked as activity coordinator for the Tudor House Personal Care Home in Selkirk from 1974-79 and then from 1980 to 2000, she worked for Parks Canada at the Lower Fort Garry National Historical Park, playing the role of her ancestor, Joseph Monkman’s wife, having studied the role at the Archives of Manitoba. From 1995-2005, Christie worked at the Manitoba Museum as a storyteller.
Christine also took on the Buffalo Tales Storytelling program, an off-site schools program, coordinating with provincial curriculum, to address the needs of local schools for historical programming about Indigenous people and the Native Lore Badge Programming for Brownies and Guides.
Ruth Christie had the creek that runs through the Lower Fort Garry National Historical Park returned to its historic name of Monkman Creek. She did the work to identify how the creek had been referred to historically.
Christie has a number of published works and film appearances. This includes her publication with Angie Thompson and Blanche Bigelow, Loon Straits Through The Years: The Monkman Ancestry (Hignell, 2000). This is a compilation of stories written by Christies’ mother, Kathleen Monkman, about their life growing up in Loon Straits. Christie also contributed “Poem of Family Reunion” and Memories of My Mother. The book is now in its second reprint, with over 700 copies sold.
In 2000, Ruth Christie went to Oxford University to participate in the Rupertsland Studies Colloquium held there. She then visited Orkney Islands and visited some of her relatives. On her trip, she took part in public education about Indigenous history in Manitoba as well as her own family history.
She currently works as an elder at the University of Winnipeg and for the Selkirk Friendship Centre and the Lord Selkirk School Division.