Ida McLeod, one of thirteen children, was born in 1920 and grew up on the Sandy Lake Reserve. Her father, a successful farmer, afforded her opportunities for higher education seldom experienced in that period: she began her university training in the 1940s, at a time when it was almost unheard of for a treaty Indian, and indeed a woman, to pursue a post-secondary education. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s she taught in many schools, and in the late 1960s she was principal of the James Smith School. Ida McLeod completed her Bachelor of Education Degree in 1971. She and her husband, John R. McLeod, were instrumental in the development of the Cree Retention Committee, organized in the early 1970s; and in 1973 Ida established the Indian Language Program at the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College (now Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre). Working at the Centre, she developed curriculum, contributed to standardizing the Cree language, and developed reading materials in the Cree language.