Remembering James Brady

By: Damon Badger Heit January, 2011

Cultural Areas

Métis

Brady, a veteran of WWII, educated and mobilized Métis communities on the rights of squatters on Crown lands and the establishment of Métis political groups that sought political and cultural protection for Métis peoples.

Métis activist James Patrick Brady, commonly known as Jim Brady, was a recognized leader in the Métis community. He, along with friend Absolum Halkett, went missing during a prospecting trip in northern Saskatchewan in 1967 and was never seen or heard from again. Although nothing was ever proven, the incident sparked controversial speculations that he was assassinated for his political activities.

Forty-three years later, a stone memorial dedicated to the memory and contributions made by Jim Brady to the Métis community and Saskatchewan’s heritage was unveiled in front of the Kikinahk Friendship Centre in La Ronge during Jim Brady Days on July 10, 2011. The memorial was funded through SaskCulture’s Métis Cultural Development Fund.

Brady is widely acknowledged in the Métis community as one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century, but to the broader public, he is generally unknown. Some of Brady’s accomplishments are enshrined in the formation of the Métis Association of Alberta, the Métis Association of Saskatchewan and the Métis Association of La Ronge, now known as the Jim Brady Métis Local.

Those close to him recall him as a self-educated “socialist Marxist” who was not only fluent in Cree, Michif, English and French, but also had some ability in German, Spanish and Latin. Brady, a veteran of WWII, educated and mobilized Métis communities on the rights of squatters on Crown lands and the establishment of Métis political groups that sought political and cultural protection for Métis peoples.

While his home by Mistasini is long gone, an original monument to him still remains in the area. Although defaced - its original plaque and bust gone missing, and weathered by time – the old monument, along with the new one in La Ronge, help continue the memory of this cultural leader, as well as the resiliency of the Métis peoples of the region and throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta.

SaskCulture, works in partnership with the Gabriel Dumont Institute, to offer the Métis Cultural Development Fund, aimed at preserving and passing on Métis culture and tradition in Saskatchewan.