Memorial services for Ellen White to be held today in Nanaimo

Funeral services are being held today in Nanaimo for celebrated Indigenous educator Ellen White. She died early Tuesday morning at the age of 94.

White was a cultural knowledge keeper, author, linguist, herbalist, healer, traditional midwife, political activist and advocate who spent her life seeking knowledge and understanding to help peoples and nations better understand themselves and each other. She was awarded the Order of B.C. and the Order of Canada for her many accomplishments.

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In a news release, White’s oldest, child Coun. Doug White II of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, said his mother lived a remarkable life, encouraging and teaching everyone she came across to strive to be their best selves, learn and listen, and build bridges of love.

“Our entire family encourages — as Ellen would want — that this time of remembrance and celebration of her life be an opportunity for reflection on how we can all make greater efforts to advance knowledge, understanding, respect and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples,” said White.

“Throughout her 95 years, Ellen exemplified the greatest respect and love for all peoples, living things, and creation. Her enduring lesson to all of us was to recognize and appreciate what we have in common as human beings, to celebrate the beauty of our diversity, and to illuminate the foundations of unity and mutuality and respect between all of us. We can all honour her memory by carrying on her work of close to a century of cultivating love, learning, respect, and harmony in human relations.”

The services are open to the public. They begin with a traditional mask dance at 6 a.m. at the Beban Park Social Centre at 2300 Bowen Rd. A traditional viewing begins at 8:30 a.m., followed by a drumming service at 9 a.m.

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