McKay was born in 1892 at Fort à la Corne, Sask., and began her education at home and later at St. Alban's Ladies' College in Prince Albert where she was awarded a $200 entrance scholarship to the U of S. She was active in the student body, serving as staff artist for The Sheaf, a member of the Students Representative Council, vice-president of the sorority Pente Kai Deka, secretary of the campus YWCA and corresponding secretary of the Literacy Society.
After graduating with a BA in 1915, McKay was hired as an assistant librarian at the University Library where she worked in numerous roles until her retirement in 1959. During the flu epidemic of 1918, she worked as a volunteer nurse and is honoured on a commemorative plaque in a stairwell in the Peter MacKinnon Building.
"I am certain that the legacy of Nan McKay will continue to inspire the next 100 years of Aboriginal student success," said Wasacase-Lafferty.
In 2007, McKay was selected as one of the University of Saskatchewan's 100 Alumni of Influence.
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