John Martin was born January, 1944, near Moose Lake, to Flora and John Martin Sr. At eight years of age, John Jr. was accompanying his father by dog sled to check traps and snares. “Winter was called, ‘long fur season’ because of the animals trapped: lynx, fox, wolves, coyote, mink and otter. In spring, ‘short fur season,’ we caught beaver and muskrat.” Bush life appealed to John.
At age fourteen John Jr. attended Dauphin Residential School. “I left at eighteen years of age. My experience was not bad but the food was terrible. I married Joyce, whom I met in school, that year in Fairford.”
Realizing there was something missing in his life, John initiated a quest to learn from the elders. “I travelled to Alberta to learn traditional teachings and began to partake in fasting and sweat lodge ceremonies. It was what I was missing.”
After years of counseling in Moose Lake, John was recognized for his efforts. “I was asked by Manitoba Corrections to work with aboriginal inmates in The Pas. We counseled and performed traditional teachings under certain restrictions. By 1991, John was considered an Elder. Years later John was asked to work as an Elder at Keewatin Community College in The Pas which led to him becoming resident Elder of the future UCN campus. John provides cultural camps, tepee and medicine wheel teachings to staff, management, students and communities. “It is working with students that is so rewarding. It is my wish our youth know who they are, where they come from and where they are going.”