Elizabeth Tookate | James Bay Cree – Attawapiskat First Nation Omushkego Territory



Tribal Nation

James Bay Cree
Attawapiskat First Nation
Omushkego Territory


Elizabeth Tookate | James Bay Cree - Attawapiskat First Nation Omushkego Territory

Elizabeth Tookate, a proud member of the Attawapiskat First Nation, was born in her traditional territory, up the coast of James Bay, with the help of her sister Bernadette. Her family had a trapline in the area and lived off the land, fishing, and hunting throughout the winter. Bernadette also helped deliver her sisters and a younger brother here. Attawapiskat First Nation lands extend beyond the reserve up the coast to Hudson Bay and include miles of land along inland river tributaries.

When Elizabeth’s father became ill, the family left their remote territory for the town of Attawapiskat. For many years, Elizabeth thought she was alone until her mother explained that her siblings had contracted tuberculosis and had been sent south to hospitals. When they finally returned home, they were placed in two separate residential schools. Elizabeth spent eleven years at both schools.

Elizabeth persevered through adversity and grief to raise a family with her husband in Attawapiskat. A strong believer in education, Elizabeth went to adult night school to earn a diploma in 1995. She began working in preschools while continuing her educational career in Early Childhood Education. She devoted twenty-five years to the Attawapiskat First Nation Daycare Center, providing language and cultural learning for young children. Today she serves as a board member of the Attawapiskat First Nation Education Authority and enjoys visiting the local elementary and high school to speak on various subjects.

An active member of her community, Elizabeth participates at the local church. She is gratified by her time with Attawapiskat Chief and Council. During her tenure she joined with other women councilors and civilian peacekeepers to stop the flow of illegal substances coming into their community by conducting baggage searches at their remote airport. The campaign resulted in confiscations of many thousands of dollars’ worth of drugs. She plans to keep helping and supporting her people as long as she is able.

Elizabeth owns a small camp by the Bay Road, where she continues to harvest traditional foods. She spends time enjoying the land, the animals, and the river.