Biography as submitted by the MMF
Ed Head has had many nicknames. As a youngster his family called him “Moose.” When he became politically active, he was called “The Voice of the North”, and later “Kitchi Piyesiw.” Edward Head was born in Granville Lake, Manitoba (west of Thompson), the son of Thomas Charles Head from The Pas and Mary Sayese of Cumberland House, Saskatchewan. His maternal grandparents are James Sayese and Veronique Fosseneuve. His paternal grandparents are Charles Thomas Head and Lizzette Marcellais, a Cree woman.
Ed’s parents were married in The Pas. They went to Cranberry Portage and from there walked to Cold Lake (just south of Sherridon). “The place we lived was nicknamed ‘Moccasin Flats.’ That’s where the Métis lived, and it was always the way the Métis lived. They called us ‘Road Allowance Indians’,” Ed explains. They had settled there because Ed’s grandfather had moved there. His father did odd jobs for Sherritt-Gordon then was hired as a miner. Ed’s grandfather had a guiding business and guided the Sherridon Mine Manager into the mine, overland from Cumberland House. “Cumberland House was the main juncture going into the North in the late 1800’s,” says Ed. “Eldon Brown, the prospector who discovered the ore body at Sherridon came through Cumberland House and needed a guide. My great-grandfather was busy, so my grandfather, James Sayese, met up with Brown and became his guide. He worked for Brown as a personal guide for a long time. Later he went to work for Sherritt-Gordon.”
Ed took two years of schooling between the ages of 10 and 12. As a youngster he fished and trapped. “We spoke Cree with a lot of little bits of French thrown in. We ate a lot of wild meat and a lot of fish. I remember that one of my delicacies that I liked to eat was Maria (Burbot) liver, the liver of the Maria fish that was very rich in oil. They’d fry it up and put it on my bannock and it was just like butter. My mother did a lot of canning, a lot of preserving. There were a lot of cranberries, blueberries and raspberries. We used a paddle out with grandpa and his family, a whole bunch of us, we had an 18-foot freighter canoe. We had that filled with blueberries when we came back.”
For many years Ed trapped with his uncle, Val Couchee (an Ojibway from Ontario). Then Ed worked for sixteen or more years as a diamond driller, this work took him all over the North. His time spent mining was at the mines at Thompson and Leaf Rapids. Ed also worked for over 25 years as a guide at Lake Kississing. In the late sixties he became active in Métis politics. He was a Manitoba Federation Vice President from Thompson Region and was elected President of the MMF in 1975-1976. He is now a Senator of the Métis Nation in Manitoba.
Ed married Angeline Lapensee, from Brochet on April 7, 1952. They have 12 children, 40 grandchildren and 38 great grandchildren (so far! as Ed says). Angeline is the daughter of Wilfred LaPensee, a Frenchman, and Philomen Merasty, a Cree woman. Ed and Angeline celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in August of 2002.
During the time Ed was Vice-President of MMF at Thompson, he and Don McIvor, then the Mayor of Wabowden, worked together to set up Native Communications Inc. (radio). Don got an initial grand of $75,000 from the government. Early on they traveled to Alberta to consult with Adrian Hope (a President of the Métis Nation of Alberta) who was instrumental in starting Native Communications in Alberta. For many years Ed served on the Board of Directors of Native Communications Inc.
In October/November of 2000, Ed chaired the Western Commercial Fisheries Conference, which was held in Winnipeg. Currently, Senator Head chairs the MMF Commission for the Métis Laws of the Hunt.