My Indian name is “Keeshigoong kanodagoozich kanakamoooch”, which means “where you can hear a person singing through the sky”
I grew up in an isolated reserve where I felt trapped and had nowhere to go. Inadequate housing and crowded living conditions. I had no motivation to go to high school – I stayed up late with my friends, partying and doing drugs, getting into trouble. There was absolutely nothing to do in the reserve. I lost a lot of my close relatives and family through suicide.
I faced many challenges in life. I lost my best friend to suicide. That evening I waited for him to come by my place as he said he would but he never showed up and that morning he was gone. I have also tried to save my uncles life in the bush in -40 weather conditions but he didn’t make it and I just 1 year and a half years ago, I lost the only person in the world that understood everything that I was going through, which was my mother.
No matter how much it hurts, I looked back and realized the struggles changed my life for the better. When there is no struggle then there is no strength. This is why I am standing here today right now.
DAREarts came to our reserve when I was in high school over 10 years ago. It made an impact on me the first year they were there and my self esteem got bigger and bigger over the years they’ve been there. I am who I am because of what DAREarts taught me. From what I see today in Webequie – it’s different than it was when I was growing up. The youth are not as shy and they are not afraid to try anything new – all of this was taught by this wonderful organization and teachers from DAREarts.
Today, I am working as an Employment Coordinator for the Ontario Works from my community as I want to help my community. I used to work as a classroom assistant until I went on the next step from helping children to helping my community members. Just last February I decided to run for 1 of 6 band councillor position but I was 25 vote shy of being a council member for my reserve. I don’t take that as defeat, though. I took it as a learning experience and I am grateful for that.
I am truly thankful for DAREarts and everything that they have done for my community and for me.