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Memorable Manitobans: Dorothy Nepinak Betz (1929-2007)

Community activist.

Born at the Pine Creek First Nation on 26 June 1929, daughter of Charles and Bernadette Nepinak, she lost her parents at an early age and was raised by her grandparents. She attended Pine Creek Residential School until the age of 18 and worked in various places before moving to Winnipeg in 1948. She married Elmer Betz (?-?) on 2 December 1950. They made their home in Winnipeg and together raised a family of six children.

Betz was moved by the hardship suffered by native people which led to a lifelong career in aboriginal law and community service. She pioneered the first Native Court Communicators Program with the Province of Manitoba, where she used her Ojibway language to help aboriginal people to understand the law. She was appointed as the Canadian delegate to the Fifth United Nations Congress in Geneva, Switzerland and spoke on the topics of women, youth and aboriginal people. She was a board member, worker, or volunteer for such organizations as the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre, Manitoba Society of Criminology, Manitoba Correctional Institutions, Native Clan Organization, Juvenile Review Board, Juvenile Corrections Child Welfare Government Board, Main Street Project, Police Natives Committee, Aboriginal Health Wellness Centre, Aboriginal Centre, Human Rights Committee, Native Alcoholism Council, Kekinan Centre (Aboriginal Seniors Residence), RCMP Aboriginal Advisory Committee, Pathway Children’s Home, Marymound School, Manitoba Association of Rights Liberties, Ma Mawi Chi Itata Centre, Native Women’s Transition Centre, Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development, and Keteyatsak Elders and Seniors.

In recognition of her contributions, Betz was inducted into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt. Other awards included the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, Women of the Year Award, Manitoba Good Citizenship Award (1977), and the Joe Zuken Award for citizen activist.

She died at Winnipeg on 9 September 2007.

Sources:

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 12 September 2007.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 20 July 2019

Memorable Manitobans

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