Margaret Ann Peters was one of the founders of the Mission Indian Friendship Center Society. They opened the first building in 1974 at Second Avenue & Scott Lane. She cut the ribbon in a ceremony for opening of the new Centre on 1st Avenue in 1982 and continued as an active member of the Board until 1992. She and her extended family, organized the precursor for the Mission War Dance Festival first held at the Centennial Park, later known as Mission Pow Wow. Margaret Ann raised funds for the Indian Friendship Centre on both the Bingo and Pow Wow Committees.
Margaret Ann Peters (nee Williams) was born in Steveston on the 29th of July 1914. Her family took her by canoe to be baptized in the newly built Church of the Holy Cross in Skookum Chuck (now Skatin). Orphaned at an early age, she was raised by grandparents. She grew up in their traditional territory, married her husband Henry at their Church, and celebrated their 51st Anniversary there in 1984. The couple had nine children, and raised many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Faced with frequent changes and the need to find work, her family moved from their traditional home at Samahquam, to Mt. Currie, and then Mission. She remembered fishing for sturgeon in Sumas Lake with her grandfather, before the lake was drained. She also recalled many times when the family worked at the hop fields in Agassiz, or went across to Washington state for jobs picking berries, beans, and other vegetables. The couple grew a large garden and preserved meat, fish and berries,doing everything they could to support their extended family.
Her husband Henry Peters was a logger, trapper, and fisherman, and was elected Chief of the Samahquam Band, and attended many political meetings of aboriginal leaders.
As a young woman, Margaret Ann had learned how to be a nurse and midwife, often providing the only help available because the location was too remote for doctors. Margaret Anne was adaptable, using traditional medicine along with the advice of Mr.Lightbody, a Mission pharmacist, and Dr. Hume, a local doctor.
Margaret Ann wore many hats throughout her lifetime: wife and mother, auntie, foster mother, nurse, midwife, secretary to the band Chief, and community organizer. Margaret was the president of the Indian Homemakers Society in Mount Currie where she and her family lived during the 1960’s. She was on the board for First Nation Education Council for the Fraser Valley and a strong supporter of improving education for aboriginal people.
Margaret Anne was an outstanding cedar basket maker and taught many of the younger generation the traditional skills for gathering and weaving. She lived her life by example, she did not wait, if she didn’t know how, she learned by trying till she succeeded and reached her objective. She passed away on March 24, 2010, leaving four surviving children, over 30 grandchildren, many great-grandchildren, and an extended family of many hundreds.
Sources: family oral history
Ama Liisaos Heritage Trust Society newsletters
Mission Indian Friendship Centre Society documents (loaned by family members)
For further information and family tree contact Aboriginal Ancestors Connection at firstname.lastname@example.org