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Katie Sanderson: Queen of the North

“Mnaadendmowin — Respect: Have respect for all that is. All of the creations should be treated with respect. You must give respect if you wish to be respected.”

A collage of two coloured photos with the text Otehimina-strawberry; the first berry of the season and the second Nipemina-high bush cranberry; the last fruit of the berry season written on it. On the right, it shows a woman in a red coat with a bucket, collecting berries from a leafless tree, the left side shows a high bush cranberry.

Katie Sanderson picks up some berries around Fort McMurray, 1975.


Katie Sanderson is one of Mary Rose Cardinal’s (also known as Granny Powder) children. Katie was born during an economic boom in the Wood Buffalo region on Oct 27, 1912.

Katie like her mom, Mary Rose, worked and lived in the trapline. Katie enjoyed looking after the bears that came by to visit by feeding them, and even going as far as shopping for something more appealing if the Bears did not like what was given to them.

An elderly Katie Sanderson stands alongside four different furs, one round and brown, the three others are fox furs, varying in size.

Katie with some of the animals she trapped in Fort McMurray, 1985.


Katie won several awards and recognition. The most notable of these was during the late 1960s to early 1970s. Katie held the title of “Queen of the North” at the Winter Carnival.

A man at the back of sled with dogs in front in the outdoor and snow in the ground.

Dogsled team at a Winter Carnival, Fort McMurray, 1969.


She won the award six times between 1966-1971 for doing tasks such as carrying flour, calling birds and moose, making a fire, and sawing logs. She again held that title for the tenth time in 1985 at the age of 73 and was still able to carry 231 lbs. of flour on her back.

An older Katie Sanderson wearing a red jacket, dries fish on a stick alongside the riverbank.

Katie loved the outdoors through every season and lived on what the land and water could offer around the boreal forest, 1975.


Katie trapped until she was eighty years old and was one of the best-known trappers in the area. For a long time, Katie lived a life of self-sustainability and did not purchase goods from the stores preferring to make them herself. Katie hunted, trapped, picked berries and grew a garden on the trapline.

A group of women sitting on the pink sofa on the farthest left is Granny Powder, Katy Sanderson and their children with five generations of women.

Five Generations include Granny Powder, Katie Sanderson, Girty Castor, daughter Shirley Sorge and the baby of Randal Sorge in Fort McMurray, 1977.


Katie’s work included promoting cultural awareness of Indigenous ways of life through the Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre and the community as a whole. Her legacy reflected a strong link to the heritage and traditional way of life of Indigenous people pass on by her passionate mother, Granny Powder.