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Maria Campbell




Maria Campbell is an Elder, writer, playwright, film maker and teacher. She started her career in 1973 when she published her first book Halfbreed.

Since then Campbell has published People of the Buffalo: How the Plains Indians Lived (1976), Riel’s People (1978), The Book of Jessica: A Theatrical Transformation (1982), co-authored with actor/playwright Linda Griffiths, and Stories of the Road Allowance People (1995), which translates oral stories into print. She has also written four children’s books including Little Badger and the Fire Spirit (1977). Halfbreed (1973) continues to influence and inspire generations of Indigenous men and women. Her work has been translated and published world wide, including versions in German, Chinese, French and Italian.

Maria Campbell's first professional play, Flight, was the first all Aboriginal Theatre production in Canada. Flight brought together modern dance, storytelling and drama together with traditional Aboriginal practices.  She went on to write and direct other plays, some of which toured Canada and abroad. In 1984, she co-founded a Film and Video Production Company with her brother and daughter where she produced and directed seven documentaries and produced with CTV the first weekly Aboriginal Television series entitled "My Partners, My People".

She has received numerous awards among the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, The Gabriel Dumont Order of Merit, Chalmers Award for best new play, and a national Dora Mavor Moore Award for playwriting. In 2004, Campbell was awarded the Canada Council for the Arts - Molson Prize. The prizes recognize the recipients’ outstanding lifetime contribution to the cultural and intellectual life of Canada. In awarding the Molson Prize in the Arts to Maria Campbell, the jury stated: “For her contribution to Canadian and Aboriginal literature and significant impact on the cultural evolution of Canada, the jury was unanimous in its choice of Maria Campbell for the 2004 Molson Prize in the Arts. The brilliance of her breakthrough memoir, Halfbreed, which changed perceptions of the Métis experience forever, has been followed by other significant work, making a profound contribution to Canadian theatre, film, television and radio. Her status as a teacher, mentor and inspiration to Aboriginal people and all Canadians is unparalleled.” She has also been inducted into the Saskatchewan Theatre Hall of Fame and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008.

Maria is a volunteer, activist and advocate for Aboriginal rights and the rights of women. She was a founder of the first Women’s
Halfway House and the first Women and Children’s Emergency Crisis Centre in Edmonton. She has worked with Aboriginal youths in community theatre; set up food and housing co-ops; facilitated women’s circles; advocated for the hiring and recognition of Native people in the arts, and mentored many Indigenous artists working in all forms of the arts. Maria sits as an Elder on the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Justice Commission, and is a member of the Grandmothers for Justice Society. Academically, she has focussed on teaching Métis history and Methods in Oral Tradition Research. She has worked as a researcher, meeting with elders to gather and record oral historical evidence of many aspects of aboriginal traditional knowledge, including medical and dietary as well as spiritual, social, and general cultural practises.

Maria Campbell has recently retired from the University of Saskatchewan where she taught Native Studies, Creative Writing and Drama. She holds four Honorary Doctorate degrees (University of Ottawa, Athabasca University, York University and the University of Regina) and has served as Writer and Playwright in Residence at numerous universities, public libraries and theatres.

She is a mom, grandma and great-grandma.



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