Cree Nation Elder
John Sinclair’s roots go back to Good Fish Lake First Nations and Ermineskin First Nations. Given the laws of the time, his grandparents both lost their status due to marrying non-Indigenous persons. His grandfather received scrip and was declared as Métis of the Wolf Lake Métis Settlement. John identifies as a non-status Cree person. He is a second generation survivor of residential school.
During his early years, he grew up in the bush and loved the lifestyle. At age 10, his grandparents who raised him moved to Edmonton. He was introduced to discrimination from other school kids and soon learned that violence kept him safe. Violence and substance abuse became a way of life as he grew older. Soon he was in conflict with the law and was incarcerated.
It was while he was incarcerated that John was introduced to his culture. For the past 25 years, he has been learning about the ceremonial way of life. He has earned the rights to carry a pipe and conduct various ceremonies in the community and in a correctional environment. John has worked for Correctional Services Canada since 2000, beginning in programs, and for the past 12 years as an Elder.
John is a grandfather, father, and husband. He has been married for 18 years to his wife Suzanne. They have a 17-year-old son, Jesse, who is graduating from high school this year. He will be the first high school graduate on his father’s side of the family. Their older children live on their own raising his grandchildren. John lives quietly, spending time his family but is always willing to help when asked. He teaches grades four and five about Indigenous culture each year. John also works with older students at the Olds High School and Olds College, bringing his teachings to them.