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Wolfville, Nova Scotia, 1918
Halifax (?), Nova Scotia, 1996
Biography synopsis
Rita Smith was a First Nations Chief and artist who was born in Nova Scotia. Renowned for her leadership skills as well as her basket weaving, Smith was the first woman to lead two small Mi'kmaq bands in Nova Scotia: the Annapolis Valley (1960s) and the Horton. Smith was a strong advocate of First Nations women's rights throughout her life. She was successful in having the Horton tribe recognized as an independent group of Native Canadians. To support her family financially, Smith and her husband worked as a team to create intricately woven baskets. They were known as some of the most talented basket makers in all of Nova Scotia. One of the collaborative works, "The Birds Nest", has been included in the Indian and Inuit Art Centre collection in Ottawa. Smith's baskets can also be found in the Indian and Northern Affairs National Art Collection. In the 1980's, Smith became a member of the Mi'kmaq Friendship Centre in Halifax and worked there until her passing in 1996.
Media used
Basket making
File & Archive locations
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives

Writings about
Lawlor, Allison. "He Was the Quiet Half of a Team That Made a Difference (Noel Abraham Smith Obituary)." Globe and Mail (7 Sept. 2009): S9.
Martin, Catherine Anne & McTaggart, Kimberlee. Kwa'nu'te': Micmac and Maliseet Artists. National Film Board of Canada, 1991.
Paul, Daniel N. "Chief Rita Smith." We Were Not the Savages: First Nations History. 2010
Paul, Daniel N. "Equality Rights Proponent Was an Accomplished Artisan." Windspeaker 24.4 (Aug. 2006): 26.

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