Remembering Joan Glode, trailblazing advocate for Indigenous children's rights

Joan Glode was a pioneering activist and community leader whose work on Indigenous children's rights have lasting impacts across Canada. (Indspire/Youtube - image credit)
Joan Glode was a pioneering activist and community leader whose work on Indigenous children's rights have lasting impacts across Canada. (Indspire/Youtube - image credit)

Joan Glode, celebrated Indigenous children's rights pioneer and Mi'kmaw community leader, has died at the age of 75.

Glode died in her home in Whites Lake, N.S., on March 9, according to her obituary.

Born in Halifax in 1947, she was one of the first Mi'kmaq to receive a masters in social work from Dalhousie University in 1973.

She also received both a National Aboriginal Achievement Award and the Order of Canada in 2009 for her contributions to the well-being of Indigenous children and families.

Glode was the founder and executive director of the Mi'kmaw Family and Children's Services and spent her career working to improve the lives of Indigenous children.

Cindy Blackstock/Twitter
Cindy Blackstock/Twitter

Glode's partner, nakanakis, said behind all of her accomplishments she was a giving and compassionate person.

"This is a woman that, once you've met, you didn't forget her," he said. "No matter who you were, she was able to talk to you. She was able to show you what was in her heart."

He said he's received an outpouring of support from people whose lives Glode touched. He said she travelled the world as part of her advocacy for Indigenous children and brought the pride of the Mi'kmaq wherever she went.

"Out of her 75 years, I only really knew her for 46 or maybe 47 of those years and it just wasn't enough. It wasn't enough."

'One of the wisest women I'll ever meet'

Fellow trailblazer for Indigenous child and family welfare, Cindy Blackstock, knew Glode well. She remembers her as "one of the wisest women I'll ever meet."

She describes Glode as a fierce advocate and someone who would always remind those around her about who they were fighting for.

"Joan Glode knew how to handle trouble." said Blackstock. "She would stand in trouble so that First Nations, Métis, Inuit families never had to stand there alone.

"She was a convener of good people, and she demanded that we ask more of ourselves than even what we thought was possible on our own."

Olivia Stefanovich/CBC
Olivia Stefanovich/CBC

Blackstock said she and Glode worked closely together, including in the creation of Jordan's Principle and related Canadian Human Rights Tribunal victories. Jordan's Principle ensures all First Nations children living in Canada have equal and timely access to the supports and services they may need.

"Every child who's ever received a service under Jordan's Principle or families who've received supports under prevention services owe a thank you to Joan Glode," said Blackstock.

Blackstock said Glode knew the lasting importance of the work she was doing.

"She had a duty to leave a legacy beyond the remembering of her name — that your true legacy is lived out in a generation of children who may never know who you are, are living a healthier and happier childhood than what otherwise would have been willed to them."

A memorial service will be held March 25 at the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax.