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Jenny Flett: Dogsled and the Woman Doctor

“Gwekwaadziwin – Honesty: Always be honest in word and action. Be honest first with yourself, and you will more easily be able, to be honest with others.”

A coloured portrait of an elderly Jenny Flett wearing a black cardigan and glasses.

A portrait of Jenny Flett, 2009.


In 1908, Jenny Flett was born in the Fort Chipewyan area. Jenny was the oldest of ten siblings, and at an early age following the death of her mother, she helped her father support her family.

Jenny also learned the midwifery trade at an early age from her mother. She further honed her skills by studying the Doctor’s Medical Manual by herself.

A snow-covered teepee sits in the middle of a field with a wired fence showing behind and forested hillside in the background.

A conical tent smokehouse in 1989.

Jenny practiced midwifery until age 75. In her lifetime, she successfully delivered 487 babies.

Jenny travelled by dogsled to the women’s homes or teepees. Her only tools were a weighing scale, clean sheets, clamps and two pie tins, which were warmed on the stove or open fire to help with the delivery. When women she cared for could not afford to pay her, she would gladly accept any token such as fish, fur or fruits.

A man shown in the background walking towards a harnessed dogsled team of seven attached to a sled in a snowy field.

Sled dogs in the boreal forest, 1956.


In honour of Jenny’s contributions to pre-and post-natal care, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2003 Regional Aboriginal Recognition Awards.

A woman and child are presented with a gift by a man with a man behind him, a podium sits in front of them covered by a quilted blanket, a colourful mural is shown on the wall in the background.

Trudy Plamondon and her daughter received an award on behalf of Jenny Flett at the Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre in 2016.

At the age of 100, Jenny was accorded a nursing diploma from Keyano College’s Fort Chipewyan Campus.

Jenny Flett died at the age of 101, still knitting up until the very end of her life.

Jenny was a compassionate and generous midwife. Her life is a great example of dedication and resiliency, a legacy of love worthy of emulation and respect.

A woman seated in wheelchair with two women behind her. On the wall behind them there is a painting of snow and trees.

Jenny Flett with relatives at Keyano College for the 2009 Aboriginal Awareness Day in Fort McMurray.