Martine J. Reid (nee de Widerspach-Thor) was born in France. After completing her Master’s thesis on the role of salmon on the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Kwakwaka'wakw communities, she moved to British Columbia. While studying at the University of British Columbia, she started to learn Kwakwala from Katherine Ferry Adams, who introduced her to the language and culture and adopted her into her family in 1978.
From 1976 to 1978 she attended several potlatches in the area of Alert Bay (BC). There, she came in contact with a number of people from the Kwakwakka’wakw communities and with their culture.
In 1981 she defended her doctoral dissertation about the Kwakwakka’wakw hamaca (Man-Eater) ritual.
In the 1970s, she received funding from the Urgent Ethnology Program of the Museum of Man in Ottawa to record languages and customs to prevent their loss. As part of this project, Dr. Reid came in contact with Agnes Alfred (or Axuw or Axuwaw) with whom she travelled to different Kwakwakka’wakw communities to visit Agnes’ family. As part of these visits, Martine got in contact with Agnes’ granddaughter, Daisy Sewid-Smith.
Between 1979 and 1980 and in 1983 and 1985 Daisy and Martine recorded and translated Agnes’ memoirs. From then until the late 1990s, they put a hold in their project for personal and work-related reasons. In the late 1990s, Daisy and Martine resumed their work, which lead to the publication of Paddling to Where I Stand.
Between 1979 and 1983, Martine worked at the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. There, she lectured in the areas of Anthropology, Ethnography, and First Nations studies. She also participated in several art-related projects in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. She did some consulting projects for the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs and for the Native Investment Trade Association.
From 2008 to 2012, she was the Director of Content and Research, and Curator at the Bill Reid Gallery. Then, she became the Honorary Chair of the Bill Reid Foundation.