Diversity Journal Third Quarter Magazine 2021

Page 48

2021

Spirit Keeper

Worth Watching

TM

INTERNATIONAL

AWARD

NATIVE AMERICAN INDIGENOUS LEADERS

Barbara Dumont-Hill

Education: No formal education after high school, but loads of life experience Company Name: Consultant for many companies Your Location (if different from above): Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Words you live by: Mino Piimadiziwin which is Algonquin for “Living your life in the good way.” This phrase applies to everything in my life. We choose how we behave in relation to adversity in our lives and our environment, and in relation to other human beings. Mino Piimadiziwin is my core value. Who is your personal hero? My father, Ernest; he lived his life with courage, strength, honesty and integrity. What book are you reading? Five Little Indians by Michelle Good What was your first job: Washing dishes at our small town diner at age 11; I have worked steadily from then on. Favorite charity: The Ottawa Mission because it works so hard to feed the spirit and bodies of our community’s most disadvantaged Interests: Reading, gardening, puzzles, and being acutely aware of our natural world wherever I am. Family: Married to Larry for over 45 years; mother to a son who is also married with a beautiful daughter; I am also a birth mother of a wonderful young woman.

Touching Lives and Hearts from the Red Road I was born on the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg Indian Reserve in Quebec. I am the tenth of 13 children, born to courageous Algonquin parents and descended from a long line of Anishinabeg. I am Turtle Clan and have been following the Red Road for more than 35 years. Shortly after I was born, my mother was diagnosed with tuberculosis and sent to the TB sanitorium in Hull, Quebec. The federally appointed Indian agent came to my father and told him that my brother and I would be adopted out, while my older siblings would be sent to residential school. To keep our family together, and with the help of an American, we left our reserve to settle in a small town in West

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2021 Third Quarter

Quebec. Our family was the only Native inhabitants in the community. This American aided my father with employment, while three townspeople had to step forward to provide support after residents petitioned not to have us settle there. This was all taking place in traditional Algonquin territory. Growing up in that town was challenging for all of us. I was made to feel less valued than the White townspeople and I have since faced racism, both overt and covert, almost every day of my life. It is this experience that has allowed me to connect with many diverse members of our society, hear their stories, and hopefully feed their wounded spirits. I have been told by

so many people that whenever I speak, I find a way into their hearts. It is my mission to educate individuals about Native people— our history, culture, spirituality, and land stewardship—in order to get back to a relationship based on equality with the broader population. I am focused on supporting Native women and youth because they are impacted still by colonialbased laws and policies. And they are our future. We all need to respect our Mother Earth. If we respect the earth, birds, fish, plants, insects, and animals, we will respect all human beings. We need to remember that the earth and all the gifts the Creator put here for us can survive without us—but we cannot survive without any of them.

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