In this issue the Nation marks March 8th, International Women’s Day, by asking people in Eeyou Istchee about the women they look up to and why.
Marjorie Mark of Eastmain: When I was asked who are the women I admire most or look up to, I thought I would not only choose one. I would say this: I admire any woman who’s working full time and who’s a mother and a grandmother. I have a lot of admiration and respect for these women. They really know how to juggle their time and their energy seems endless. They work all day, then they go home and then they start their other jobs as mothers, grandmothers and wives. They take care of the meals, laundry, cleaning and whatever else needs to be done, they answer questions and help with the homework. They get things for the sports games their children play. And then they still have time to go to meetings of committees they sit on.
These women are the ones working at schools as coordinators, directors, principals, vice-principals, secretaries. Most of all they are mothers who have patience, love, care and endless energy. To all working women, have a happy Women’s Day on March 8th. Especially to my two daughters and all the female teachers/staff of W.E.S.
Chisasibi’s Jimmy R. Fireman: I honour my late mother, Daisy, who gave me life, who cared for me and loved me, and taught me the traditional ways. I honour my best friend and spiritual partner, Kathleen, who taught me to love unconditionally. I honour my three daughters, Patricia, Sheila, Kathryn and also my 14-month-old granddaughter, Anabel. They have taught me that Aboriginal women have a natural beauty, inside and outside. In general I respect all women.
Shirley Diamond from Waskaganish: One of the women I look up to is Josephine Diamond. She’s close to 80 years now and she’s still living like in the old days. She is still practicing the Cree traditional ways. She still goes out in the bush, she’s very active for her age. I respect her a lot. I also respect my daughter, she has two beautiful daughters. I really admire the way she’s raising her kids. I look up to my mother and she still goes in the bush too. She preserves the traditional ways of life and I respect her for that.
Norman Miamianskum of Whapmaagoostui: I look up to my wife. She’s taught me to make the right decisions whenever I’m faced with daily problems. When I was drinking a lot, she was always there for me to help me cope with the problem. I think if she wasn’t there I’d still be drinking. She also helps me out in other areas of my life, even financially, although I work. She helps a lot to keep the family together and I respect her for that.
Valerie Gunner of Mistissini: I look up to my aunts, Minnie and Charlotte, because they’re very loving people, kind and very generous. They care about a lot of people and I look up to them for that. They’re always there for me when I need advice so I won’t have a bad day.
Isaac Masty of Whapmaagoostui: I look up to my wife. When we started living together we weren’t any different from the young people of today. I was really drinking a lot in those days and it affected our family life, especially our children. With all the things she had to put up with, now when I think back I realize that women are very strong, sometimes stronger than a man. I lost my father and one of our kids when our house burnt down, including my sister. That was the hardest that I ever had to face. She helped me cope with our loss. I’m very thankful that I have found somebody as a friend and a loving wife to help me in many areas of my life. Sometimes I wonder if I had been with another person I’d probably be single by now. She’s always there for our family and me as well. I can truly say that I’m very happy for our daughters too. They are very independent as we taught them never to lean on anybody else. They deal with their problems and I respect them for that.
Chisasibi’s Doris Bobbish: I looked to my late mom. She taught me how to connect between a mother and daughter. And the other person was the late Mina Tapiatic. She taught me how to be a good woman and a wife. I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to meet her. When she was young she hadn’t known white people. All her teachings were from the very grassroots of our people. The other person was Mother Theresa, she was totally enlightened in everything she did and that was an inspiration for me.
Diane Snowboy of Chisasibi: I looked up to my sister-in-law Nancy Snowboy because she helped me a lot when I was going through marital problems. Whenever I used to feel down she would help me get back on my feet. I thank her for all the help and advice she gave me.
Linda Gunner from Waswanipi: I look up to my late mom. She decided to go to university and get a degree. Eventually she got a job. She was very independent. She gave me the inspiration to go on and get what I want in my life. I thank her for that.
Alice Rhondou of Chisasibi: I look up to my mom. She’s done so much for the family. My parents together have done a lot for our family. She’s giving up so much to make sure my brother gets a good education. She’s always worked very hard and she’s always helped a lot of people. I think of her when I try to make decisions, she’s good at dealing with things.
Nancy Danyluk from Wemindji: I looked up to my late grandmother, my father’s mother. She used to give me advice. Today I still use the things she taught me 41 years ago. I see all the things she predicted today. She’s probably my guardian angel right now. She also taught me the difference between right and wrong. She used to say that even if you don’t believe what other people say, at least listen, you will still be on the right path. She was a very kind and loving person who loved her grandchildren very much.
Eastmain Chief Edward Gilpin: We would like to thank and recognize our two daughters. Victoria Gilpin, and Stella Ratt in Chisasibi and our daughter-in-law Brenda Gilpin. We want to thank you from the very bottom of our hearts for being the best, loving, caring mothers to your children.
Judy Cooper from Waswanipi: I look up to my mom first of all. And also to Violet Pachano. She started out as a corporate secretary and she moved up. She climbed the ladder to executive director of the Grand Council of the Crees and then she became the first Cree woman Chief of Eeyou Istchee. Then she also became the deputy grand chief. Now she works as a consultant. She’s really done a lot for the people. I really admire her because she’s a good role model for the Cree woman, not only for the Cree woman but also for the women of all Nations.
George L. Diamond, originally from Waskaganish: I want to recognize these women for their work: In education, Janet Mark, who is continuously finding ways for our youth and native people to continue their education in Val d’Or at the university level. She has opened many doors so Native people can study close to home and their people.
In health, Bella Moses Petawabano. She has worked for close to 30 years to improve our personal health and health services for all Cree people in Eeyou Istchee. She is a caring woman and a positive role model that Cree people can be proud of.
In the Cree language and cultural developmental programs, Daisy Bearskin Herodier continues to ensure that Cree children will be privileged to learn their mother tongue along with our Cree history and knowledge. Individual Cree pride is gained and promoted when Cree people know their history, language and culture.
To these Cree women, thank you for what you have accomplished and exemplified by your commitment, dedication, and hard work.