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BIOGRAPHY

Wabano was reportedly born “out in the bush” along Ekwan River, north of what would become Attawapiskat First Nation in Kenora District, Ontario, Canada, on 28 January 1904. She was one of six children born to parents David and Hannah Kioke (somewhere Kioki). Since there was no hospital, she was delivered by midwives. When she was about seven years old, she attended St. Anne’s Indian Residential School, situated in what is now Fort Albany. Following two years at the school, her family relocated deeper into the wilderness to shield her and her siblings from the school and authorities. As she only spent two years at the residential school, she never learned to speak English or French fluently, and remained a monolingual Cree speaker for her entire life.

As a young woman, she met Raphael “Napihen” Wabano along the Kattawapiskak River. The two eventually got married and had seven children (three of whom died in their early years). The family moved to Moosonee, where her husband searched for employment. She also worked at times, taking jobs doing laundry and cleaning at the mission and hospital.

Her husband passed away in 1995. At the age of 99, she underwent a pacemaker implantation. However, after several years, doctors detected that it had stopped working, and they were uncertain for how long it had been inactive. In 2008, she was part of a survivors’ assembly that witnessed then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he delivered the government’s apology for the residential school system from the floor of the House of Commons. She attributed her longevity to her ability to forgive.

At the age of 110, she was living alone in the apartment she and her husband had shared for years, receiving occasional assistance from her children or grandchildren. She preferred consuming traditional foods such as geese, fish, and dumplings. She could still walk, aided by a walker.

Wabano passed away in Moosonee, Ontario, Canada, on 13 November 2015, at the age of 111 years, 289 days. She was survived by 25 grandchildren, 83 great-grandchildren, 88 great-great-grandchildren and many great-great-great-grandchildren.

RECOGNITION

On 13 April 2015, following the death of 112-year-old Orma Slack, she became the oldest living person in Canada.

Her age was verified by Stefan Maglov and Jimmy Lindberg, and validated by LongeviQuest on 13 September 2023.

ATTRIBUTION

* “Granny Wabano focuses on positives of life” – Wawatay News. 11 February 2014

* “Residential school survivor Marguerite Wabano was granny to all” – The Globe and Mail, 15 November 2015

GALLERY

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