Fonds MSS 473 - Dorothy Betz fonds

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Dorothy Betz fonds

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0.75m of textual records

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Biographical history

Dorothy Betz, an Anishinabe woman, was born Dorothy Nepinak on 26 June 1929 at the Pine Creek Reserve in Manitoba to Charles and Bernadette Nepinak. Losing her parents at an early age, she attended the Pine Creek Residential School for 15 years, until she was 18. In 1948, she came to Winnipeg and met Elmer Betz, whom she married in 1950, and had six children with him, including Linda Keeper. He worked as a maintenance man for Kinew Housing, and was also involved with the Indian and Métis Tenants Association.

Betz spent her career and later life in service to Winnipeg’s Aboriginal community. She established the Native Court Communicators Program with the Province of Manitoba and worked there for several years, later being appointed to the National Parole Board. She was involved in a number of other legal and justice-oriented organizations and initiatives, including the Manitoba Society of Criminology, Native Clan Organization, Juvenile Review Board, Juvenile Corrections Child Welfare Government Board, Manitoba Association of Rights & Liberties, John Howard Society, the Aboriginal Advisory Committees of the Winnipeg Police Services and the RCMP, and Aboriginal Ganootamaage Justice Services (formerly Aboriginal Legal Services). In 1975, she was also part of the Canadian delegation to the Fifth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in Geneva, Switzerland, where she spoke about the difficulties Aboriginal people faced in the Canadian justice system.

Betz was also one of the founders of the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre (IMFC) of Winnipeg in 1959, the first IMFC in Canada, and of Kekinan Centre, an Aboriginal senior residence, in 1990. Outside of the criminology field, she was employed by, a board member of, or volunteered at a variety of other Aboriginal organizations, including Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Native Women’s Transition Centre, Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg, Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre, Centre for Aboriginal Human Resources Development (formerly Native Employment Services), Native Alcoholism Council, Northwest Child and Family Services Agency, North Main Street Project, Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg, Circle of Life Thunderbird House, and the Indigenous Women’s Collective of Manitoba. She was the recipient of several awards recognizing her contributions to improving the lives of Aboriginal people, including a Manitoba Good Citizen Award (1977), the Joe Zuken Citizen Activist Award (1989), a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for community development (1999), and a Keeping the Fires Burning award (2004), and was named to the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt (1989) and the IMFC Aboriginal Wall of Fame (1999). She died in Winnipeg on 9 September 2007.

Custodial history

This collection was transferred to the University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections by the creator’s daughter, Linda Keeper, in 2015.

Scope and content

This fonds was divided into five series. The first series, personal records & involvement, includes CV and professional documents, invitations & other personal correspondence, and interviews with D. Betz and M. Richard, as well as collected newspaper clippings, programs and posters about friends and more broadly concerning Aboriginal achievement & issues. The second series (by far the largest), organizations and initiatives, was subdivided by topic into 3 subseries: a) law & justice, b) health & welfare, and c) community development & employment, which contain employment, board, and committee member documents, including minutes and agendas, reports, newsletters and newspaper clippings, proposals, and promotional material. The third series, resources & publications, was subdivided into a) correctional services & law, and b) other resources, which include reports and publications from government and other organizations. The fourth series (and smallest), miscellaneous, contains otherwise uncategorizable documents with no identifying features, including a speech from 1960. The fifth series, Elmer Betz, contains folders that contained correspondence, board materials and other documents addressed to or involving the donor's husband.

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This collection is arranged in five series: 1) Personal Records & Involvements; 2) Organizations & Initiatives; 3) Resources & Publications; 4) Miscellaneous; and 5) Elmer Betz. Papers that were organized by the creator were kept together where possible. Those papers with less clear organization were removed from their seemingly random order and filed appropriately. Some larger files maintained by the creator were subdivided into smaller files.

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  • English
  • French

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Associated materials

This fonds is one of a number of collections pertaining to urban Aboriginal community development in the city of Winnipeg. It is closely related to, but not one of, a series of collections transferred to the University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections through the community-academic partnership and research project entitled "Preserving the History of Aboriginal Institutional Development in Winnipeg", which was sponsored by the Manitoba Research Alliance (MRA) between 2008 and 2013, and funded by CURA and SSHRC Partnership Grants.

All envelopes photocopied, attached to their contents, and discarded by the archivist on 3 July 2015. In the fifth series (Elmer Betz), materials pertaining to the Indian and Métis Tenants Association that were found in a folder labeled "Kinew Housing" were interfiled with overlapping documents in the existing "Indian and Métis Tenants Association" file for ease of researcher use.

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No further accruals are expected.

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Created by Samantha Booth, Sept. 2015
Last updated by Sara Min on 3 May, 2017.

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