Meet Mrs. Mary Ellen Googoo. She is one of the Elders in Residence found in Unama’ki College at CBU. Mary Ellen has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to traditional language, culture, and education. You can find her in Unama’ki College at least two days a week and she is always a wonderful and interesting woman to talk to. Today on National Aboriginal Day we celebrate Mary Ellen Googoo, for all she does at CBU.
Title: Elder in Residence, Cape Breton University/ Retired Teacher
Background: Mi’kmaq from Membertou First Nation
Mary Ellen was born in Whycocomagh, and raised in Eskasoni. She has worked for the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, the National Native Women’s Association and the Indian Rights for Indian Women organization. She obtained a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of New Brunswick, a Certificate in Special Education from Acadia University, and a Diploma in Education (Curriculum Development) from the University College of Cape Breton (now CBU). Mary Ellen has worked for the former Cape Breton District School Board, both as a teacher and as Cultural Coordinator, helping to develop the “Mi’kmaq Studies 10” and “First Nations 11” courses. Mary Ellen also served as director of the Mi’kmaq College Institute (now Unama’ki College).
An advocate for Mi’kmaq language and culture learned from the teachings of her late grandfather, Grand Chief Gabriel Sylliboy, Mary Ellen has worked for their promotion as an educator and as a member of the Elders Advisory Committee for Mi’kmawey Debert, the Tripartite Education Working Group, and the Culture and Heritage Working Group, and as co-chair of the Mi’kmaq Language Sub-committee for the Tripartite Forum. In 2006 CBU conferred the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, to Mary Ellen for her leadership in Mi’kmaw education. Today Mary Ellen lives in Membertou with her husband Francis, proud parents of 7 children and 23 grandchildren. It is an honour to have Mary Ellen’s guidance and quiet strength as Elder in Residence at Unama’ki College.