Josephine Michell

Josephine Michell

Born: February 20, 1909

Called Home: August 23, 2008


Pane Tso’ lived a very full independent life. Josephine Michell was born in Mosquito Flats on February 20, 1909, daughter to Amelia and Arthur Michell; Josephine accomplished a lot in her life. She not only raised her two children, Elsie and Lawrence, but she also raised many children whom she delivered as a mid-wife and other close and distant nieces, nephews, and Grandchildren. The last child Josephine delivered was in 1967, her Grandson Trevor Michell. Throughout her life, Josephine’s main source of employment was in the forest industry. As a cultural educator she provided evidence in judicial proceedings and traditional teachings to individuals and community members, and most significantly she was a mother to so many children. All knew Josephine as Grandma or Pane Tso’.

Lizette Naziel, Mary-Ann Alec (Malian) and Grandma spent a lot of time together. Lizette was raised by Amelia and Arthur like she was Josephine’s natural sister. On many occasions, Lizette, Malian, and Josephine travelled together holidaying, attending revivals across the province of BC and North America. Josephine and Lizette’s time was spent enjoying each others company, laughing together and just being together. The closeness between Lizette and Josephine amounted to many joint-family travels to set-up camp for hunting or berry-picking mostly around the Iskut area since both Lawrence and Alfred Mitchell worked in that area.

Josephine enjoyed various types of employment with the majority of her work related to the forest industry. Near the Kispiox River she operated a pole camp, which was a very big venture at that time, and employed 4-5 people. Most times Lizette and Lucy Namox worked along side Josephine. Josephine also worked as a tree planter locally in the Moricetown area along side other community members. Her employment as a truck driver was very short lived as she had an incident with the truck and that was enough for her; she did not drive the truck again.

Josephine’s expert knowledge of the traditional territory placed her in a position to give commissioned evidence for the Delgamuukw case; and she attended the court proceedings in Vancouver to support community Elders who were witnesses. Josephine was selected due to her unbiased knowledge of the territory, between Burns Lake and Moricetown, specifically for Likhsilyu.

As an educator, Josephine had the responsibility for sharing the traditional practices not only with those children she raised but also to community at large. She was very strict in adhering to and enforcing the traditional knowledge and laws. The late Janet George and Josephine were lead educators in many culture camps, teaching the younger generations the traditional practice of preserving foods, such as berries, moose meat, and fish. In her earlier years, Josephine taught individuals how to prepare and mend fishing nets as well as erect a fishing pole over the rapids near Beeman. Through the Moricetown recreation program, she taught a group of community youth how to locate and preserve traditional medicines. Her teachings will be remembered by many fortunate family and community members who listened and learned from her.

Josephine is the last survivor from the generation who was involved in clearing lands with their bare hands for their family homes and for ranching. Grandma lived her life off the land to the fullest extent, as her way of life routinely mirrored the seasonal round. Firm family values in combination with the firm belief that all family members belonged to the family, which is demonstrated by the generations of children she raised; both Grandma and her daughter Elsie went to extreme lengths to keep family members at home, regardless of the circumstance. Together, Grandma and Elsie constantly taught each subsequent generation to live off the territory and to respect the land and the animals. Depending on the season, and whether or not the children lived with Grandma permanently or temporarily, the children experienced hunting, trapping, fishing, berry-picking, processing moose hide and gardening. In the summer time, Josephine could be seen carrying a bucket of “ghadluts” (fish guts) from her place to glacier creek, after canning, freezing or smoking fish. In the winter, after checking the trap line she would be seen skinning martin, mink, and/or rabbit. In the fall, you would more than likely find moose meat on the kitchen table, ready for sawing. Josephine was well-known for removing snow from her driveway and door step with shovel or broom. In the spring, Grandma would be preparing seedlings for the vegetable garden. Most of you may have been fortunate to have tasted her sweet carrots, her moose stew, and her bannock or yeast bread.

At her leisure Josephine enjoyed sewing moccasins, beading, or knitting. Josephine loved to travel especially to the next revival, whether it was in Moricetown or in the neighbouring communities, other provinces or in the United States. She found a lot of comfort worshiping the Lord. Grandma lived a very traditional life and amid modern technology; she enjoyed listening to the religious channel to partake in the praying. Other times Cora would read the bible to Josephine.

Cora spent a lot time with Josephine and she provided tremendous care for Josephine which left very little time for herself. Grandma’s time with us was spent teaching us to be respectful to each other and to the land and to always do the right thing. Until we meet again, The Michell, Mitchell, Markert, Williams and Muckle family.