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Loreta Gagnon

Educator Loretta Gagnon dies at 45

By Murali Balaji
Staff Writer, Native News Online
December 26, 2000

Loretta Gagnon, a longtime education advocate considered one of the cornerstones of Minnesota's American Indian community, died early Christmas Day [2000] after an eight-year battle with breast cancer. She was 45.

Loretta C. Gagnon

Loretta Gagnon's two volunteer efforts are aimed at improving the lives of American Indians and bridging the gap between Indian culture and the arts community.

In 1993, Loretta helped create the American Indian Cultural Advisory Committee (AICAC) for the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. AICAC creates opportunities for American Indians to share their rich cultural history and talents in a mainstream setting. Besides creating the opportunity, Loretta's work has boosted the confidence of thousands of American Indians who have since performed on the Ordway stages.

Loretta also is passionate about her work with St. Paul American Indians in Unity. This organization works to break the cycle of chemical dependency within the Native American community.

Loretta has been forced to deal with yet another challenge. In 1993, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The illness has since spread to her bones. But despite treatments that are gradually limiting her physical abilities, Loretta is not about to give up.

"I figure you can choose to live or throw in the towel. I like the work that I do. I live every day as full as I can."

*Loretta has designated $1100 to St. Paul American Indians in Unity.