The Passing of 105-year-old Philomene Moise

philomene-webThe Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nation’s Executive, Elders, Senate, Veterans and Staff extend their condolences to the family of Philomene Moise and the Muskowekwan First Nation.

One of Saskatchewan’s oldest First Nations elders, Moise lived to 105 years of age.

She will be remembered as a hardworking and loving caregiver, who had 13 children and took in two other families to raise as her own. She had so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren that she lost count.

“She was our matriarch. She was everything to us,” her daughter Marlene Moise-Hansen says. “She worked so hard. In the 50s I remember her chopping wood, hauling water by pail for about a mile. A lot of times she survived on berries when she was a child, and wild meats. She snared rabbits herself when dad was working. She had to go out and provide.”

Philomene Moise was born to Albert Cyr and Maude Bitternose Cyr from George Gordon First Nation. After her mother died around 1922, she was sent to Muskowekwan Residential School.

She liked the school because she learned home economics – how to cook and sew, Moise-Hansen says. She was a seamstress at the residential school in her younger days, and it was a skill that helped her make the best of hard times.

“I have an older sister who’s almost 80. When she was having her first baby Mom sewed together a mattress case and went out and filled it with straw so she could have a mattress,” says Moise-Hansen.

“My mother went through a lot of changes, from the wagon to the motor car. We never had power until the 70s. There was no TV; no technology.” Moise was a devout Roman Catholic who believed we all prayed to the same god. It didn’t matter to her what church you went to, as long you prayed.

She passed away peacefully on November 16th. A wake for Moise is taking place at the Muskowekwan bingo hall near Punnichy, starting at 4 p.m. Sunday. The funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday. Six generations of children will be heading to Muskowekwan to celebrate her life.