In 1957 the Hudson Bay Company closed its York Factory operation at the mouth of the Hayes River. Afterwards, many of the Cree inhabitants moved south to Shamattawa, situated where the God's and Echoing River intersect and where an outpost to York Factory had operated for years. It was north of here on the trap line that Harriet Beardy was born on September 1, 1926.

Harriet learned many skills including how to properly prepare animal hides and to sew clothing. Most importantly she learned that only through hard work would she survive in the rugged wilderness.

When Harriet was 16 years old she married Mason Miles. They had one daughter, Josephine. Years later Mason passed away. Harriet married Wilson Redhead and additional children were born into the family. Harriet remembers life being filled with much hardship. "We worked from morning till night. In the winter we would be on the trap line by Whitefish Lake (so named because of the abundance of whitefish). We lived in a cabin and I remember it being bitterly cold. We ice fished, using big nets across narrow parts of the river. Life was hard but people never complained. We were rarely hungry as there was plenty of food. In the summer we stayed in Shamattawa and always had something to do. I made moccasins and mitts out of moose and caribou hide and did my own bead work."

Times were simpler then for those in her community. Family units were close and everyone had something to do. Things have certainly changed, if not so much for her children, certainly for her grandchildren. Harriet summed up her life with no regrets. "Every day we kept busy, struggling to survive. Those were good times." Harriet Redhead passed away in May, 2009.

Back to Portrait Gallery

Harriet Redhead
Cree, Shamattawa
Image size: 10 x 13 inches
Edition size: 975