SOOKE HISTORY: Grandma Sue’s book launch

‘The woman we called Grandma Sue was a treasure to us all’

Supporters gather around Grandma Sue during her book launch at the Sooke Region Museum in 1990. (Sooke Region Museum photo)

Elida Peers | Contributed

It was an exciting day for Grandma Sue when we all gathered in the central exhibit area of the Sooke Region Museum in 1990 to celebrate the arrival of her published booklet That was our Way of Life which she had written with the help of Kathy Johanneson.

The woman we called Grandma Sue was a treasure to us all; one of the younger daughters of Chief Andrew Lazzar and his wife Annie Jones, (sister to Queesto of the Pacheedaht), she was a generous contributor to our knowledge of earlier First Nations’ life.

Holding her deerskin drum, she is surrounded by family and friends. Standing at left is Jack Planes, son of Grandma Sue’s elder sister Ida Lazzar Planes. Jack’s wife Phyllis is seated in front of him, and next to her is Andrea Cooper, who was at that time retired from her role as the first elected female chief in British Columbia. It was in the period that Andrea Cooper was chief that the T’Sou-ke Cultural Hall was built.

Next you see Kathy Johanneson and I smiling at each other, sharing in the celebration of this joyous event. Standing behind Grandma Sue (Lazzar, Cooper, Johnson), is her niece Nellie Lazzar who had married Albert Pelkey of Saanich, with her son “Junior” Pelkey behind her. Sitting on the right side of Grandma Sue is Rita Pelkey Willis. Behind Rita is Sandra Cooper with her husband Will Brown. Sandra, daughter of Jim and Andrea Cooper, was a devoted upholder of First Nations traditions, and has her daughter Teyemtenot in the pink hairband beside her.

At right is another of the Pelkey men, seated behind Roberta Orser. Roberta, who is holding her daughter Lianne on her knee, and her sister Jacquie DeYaeger (not in the photo), are both daughters of Jack and Phyllis Planes, and we are indebted to them for assisting with this photo.


Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.


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