Trudy is from the Wolf Clan in Northern BC of the Gitxsan Nation. Trudy’s traditional name, Lugaganowals, means a frog that is always leaning or giving.
Trudy is the third youngest of eight children with one half brother. Her parents raised 47 foster children. Trudy and her siblings learned how to share their parent’s love and dedication and understood well that if you have family, you have everything. Trudy and with many of her siblings, are foster parents today.
Trudy is mother to sons Jeramie, 43 and Vincent, 42. Tragically, in 1982 when Trudy was 25, her husband and father of her young children, Terry Erickson, was killed in a work-place accident. Trudy went on to raise her sons as a single mother while completing her licensed practical nurse training at Malaspina College in Nanaimo. Her nursing career began in 1985 in her hometown of Hazelton, BC at Wrinch Memorial Hospital, the birthplace of many of her siblings.
Five years later Trudy moved her family back to Vancouver Island and began nursing at Royal Jubilee Hospital. Trudy has been privileged and honoured to live on Coast Salish Territory since 1990. Trudy’s nursing career was in surgery and finally as the first female orderly in Victoria. During her years in nursing Trudy was actively involved locally, regionally and nationally in many Hospital Employee Union (HEU) and CUPE National executive positions as well as many committees. In 2004 Trudy was appointed by the Victoria Labour Council to the Board of Referees Employment Insurance as an employee representative until 2010. Trudy continued her union activity regionally and nationally until 2011 when BCNU took over the LPN’s.
In 1998 Trudy married Bill Spiller, father of two – Emily, 42 and Adam, 41. In December of 2005 Bill and Trudy welcomed into their home their great niece, Tanisha, who was just five-and-a half-month-old and ten-months later, they welcomed their one-year-old grandson Terrance into their home. Tanisha and Terrance are thirteen and twelve now and attend Dunsmuir middle school in SD 62.
Trudy’s mother, Hereditary Chief, Gwininintxw taught her children about respecting earth, wind, fire and water. When they could sit and listen, they were brought in to the feast to learn. When Trudy was seven-years-old grandmother, SuuDee gave Trudy her Gitxsan name, Lugaganowals which means a tree that is always leaning or giving.
Trudy feels it is her responsibility to ensure Tanisha and Terrance understand their role as Gitxsan. Bill and Trudy bring the children north annually where they can attend feasts, fish, berry pick and preserve. Trudy’s eldest sister is now the Hereditary Chief, Gwininintxw.
In 2000 Trudy was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and was forced to go on long-term disability. Trudy chose to spend her time remaining on HEU and CUPE National committees fighting for the rights of workers and giving back to the community. In 2011 B.C. Nurses Union took over the Licensed Practical Nurses, therefore, BCNU became Trudy’s union.
In 2012 Trudy began reading in Tanisha’s class and ultimately became a role model for sd62. As a SD62 First Nation role model, Trudy educates all children about First Nation medicine, food and dress. She feels that ALL children should have the right to learn about First Nations. During this time, Trudy was encouraged by many teachers to write a book. So in 2016, with the assistance of a well-known publisher, Teddy Anderson, Trudy began to write her book, Trudy’s Rock Story. It was a story told to her and her siblings by their grandmother as she whipped soapberries under a gas or coil oil lantern.
In 2017 Trudy’s youngest son, Vince passed away while writing her book therefore, she dedicated it to him. Today Trudy brings her book to SD62 schools and reads her story to the students. Along with her book, she brings furs that children can touch, feel and smell. Trudy teaches children that the furs are a part of her food chain. Trudy’s book can be found across Canada at bookstores in both English and French. It has also been translated in to her language, Gitsenemix and will be released in 2019.
Trudy is a strong believer of giving back to her community. She is an active member of her community, serving in many capacities as she advocates for a strong, healthy community where families will grow and flourish.