Betsy, the second youngest of five, was born March, 1939 to Jeannie Neckoway and Enoch Cook. Betsy’s upbringing was typical of children her age in northern Manitoba. “My mother performed all regular chores in our home: hauling water, cleaning, making bannock. She cleaned clothes using a wash board. The fall was especially busy because we had to get ready for winter. Mom prepared moose hides to sew moose hide jackets, and did the beadwork.
In 1956, Betsy wed William Flett in Split Lake. The couple had nine children. “I tried to pass on to my children what had been taught me by my mother. I taught them to be kind and respectful of others, especially elders. At that time there was little interference from outside forces. There was little or no alcohol and no drugs in the community.”
The flooding of the 1970’s affected many families in northern Manitoba. “The Churchill Diversion Project made life very difficult for those living in our community. Hydro makes me very upset."
These strong feelings came to a head when Betsy and others erected and manned a barricade on the road entering her community. The group of protesters were attempting to prevent trucks from entering. I asked Betsy why she is so passionate about protecting her land. She replied, “This land is a gift from god. It is for us to live here, to raise our children and our grandchildren. Since the white man came, everything has changed. In all the years I’ve seen so much damage and felt so much heart ache from how our land has changed."