• When I was a child, everyone I knew spoke Cree

    I grew up in Misipawistik (Grand Rapids, Manitoba), an Inninew village of about 400 people. The village was separated by the Saskatchewan River, the reserve was on the south bank and the Métis community was on the north side. But at that time, we never identified as status, non-status or Métis. We were Inninew, Cree-speaking people. Our language identified us. In all the time I spent with my nookum (grandmother), I never once heard her say a word in English. People who dropped in to see her, spoke to her in Cree. She would not acknowledge a visitor if the person didn’t speak Cree to her. That was how she was: her home, her terms, her language. There were two families in our village that were Caucasian: the store owners. In those families there were three boys, blond as blond could be, and they spent as much time with us as they did at home. They all spoke Inninew, Cree with us. To us, their friends, they were just a whiter shade of Inninew. We never knew that outside of our isolated village we were different, until Manitoba Hydro arrived to build the Grand Rapids Generating Station. Manitoba Hydro created a tiered system in which they were on top, the workers they brought in were second, the Métis third and at the bottom were status and non-status people. The dam flooded more than 200,000 hectares of our land. Worst of all, we nearly lost our identity, our language.

  • Namwayut, We Are All One

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    You know there are no words even beyond memorable for this person that I love so much. It was my paternal grandmother, her name was, Thunder Bird Lady. She used to say to me and my other cousins of course, “I am nothing my precious one.” There will be long silence and I wonder what “what are you talking about” Continue reading “Namwayut, We Are All One”

  • Wisdom

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    In 1996, I was elected the mayor of the district of Tofino in Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s territory – Nuu-chah-nulth territory. I had the opportunity to go on a five minute boat ride just across the waterway to Meares Island to Opitsaht, which is one of the communities in the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s territory. It’s actually where the seat of their government is. So I went and met with the chief councillor and his council. Continue reading “Wisdom”

  • Our Thing

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    Till today we both moved to Canada my daughter speak mother language Mandarin, second language English, and last few days I try start to talk with my daughter Shanghai language. She’s excited to know it. Continue reading “Our Thing”

  • Keeping Language

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    I got married when I was eighteen and me and my husband had four girls. But my husband went to residential school. So there was two people with two different lifestyles. The way he wanted to bring my girls up and the way I wanted to bring my girls up, it was a struggle because in school our language was beaten out of him. But for some reason my husband kept his language. And I said “how did you do that” Continue reading “Keeping Language”