The building blocks of a strong family

There were several criteria that judges used to decide that Marie-Claude Simon should be named Miss Traditional Pow Wow 2009 in Mistissini’s annual event, held in the community’s recreational complex last August. Among them were her fundraising efforts, traditional costume and singing performance – a medley of hits by Mariah Carey, Amy Lee and Gwen Stefani. But Marie-Claude, an active 27-year-old who plays hockey and works at A.D.E.L.S restaurant, really blew the judges away with her speech, which we proudly present below in its entirety.

As many of you may already know, I was born into a family of 10 kids (6 girls and 4 boys). This is why I chose to talk about family and their values as the subject of my speech.

Let me start by saying that I was raised by the best parents kids could ever wish for. They are the most caring, loving and generous people I know. They’ve taught us so many important values but I will only elaborate on some of them, the ones I consider to be the most important of all.

Respect. It is such a small word for such a big thing. My parents showed me the importance of self-respect, because self-respect is not just about respecting yourself, it is also a way of showing others you respect them. As I already read once in a book and I quote, “Give it to get it!” Let’s not forget that we also need to respect our parents and Elders, which is one thing I don’t really see in our society today. I see often kids insulting their parents just because they wouldn’t buy them the new phone that came out or the new video game that his/her friends have…and I think it’s really awful. They gave you life the least you can do for them is respect them. I do have to say that I really admire the parents that don’t give in, you may not notice it right away but you’ll realize soon enough that you are helping them by doing so and I am sure that they will thank you for that one day.

Sharing. Being part of a big family, we had to learn the meaning of that word at a really young age since we couldn’t afford much stuff growing up. But I’m thankful that we always had three meals a day, which is more than some families can afford today. We had to share almost everything: bedrooms, clothes, toys and even germs. But that’s okay, I’m not miserable today because of that. It’s actually the opposite, I learned to appreciate more the little things in everyday life; having a great family, being healthy and having a place to call home.

Most kids today are so spoiled that they don’t appreciate what they have because they always want more. The worst part is that they don’t even look happy. Parents need to learn that it’s not how much money you spend on your kids but how much time you spend with them that matters the most. My family and I try to spend as much time together as we can by organizing suppers or other activities. Unfortunately, for me it’s kind of hard to do these days, because half of my family lives in Quebec. I really miss them and I wish they could all be here right now, but at least I have my mom and the other half of my family supporting me today.

Forgiveness. It is probably the hardest thing that people have to do these days. I see a lot of people holding grudges against other people because of something that happened awhile ago. You need to learn to forgive and let go. I know it can be really hard sometimes but I guarantee you will feel relieved afterwards. If you don’t, you will always have that anger that will eat you up inside and you will never be happy. I have actually seen a beautiful family being torn apart because some family members were too proud to forgive each other for meaningless things. I just hope whoever feels concerned by what I am saying right now will consider giving it a try.

Love. It can sometimes come in your life for a certain amount of time, like for an hour, for a night, for a month but it can also come for a lifetime. Like a child’s love for his or her parents. It is timeless and unconditional. Because no matter what you do they will always be by your side and now matter how old you get you will always be their children and they will always love you. I know that for a fact, because my parents always told me so. So kids, even if you did something really and I mean really bad and your parents punished you, don’t think that they hate you, they’re actually punishing you because they love and care for you. I know it’s probably hard to understand right now but you will understand once you get older. Thank you mom and dad for punishing me when I was walking on the wrong path in order to bring me back on the right track.

Marriage is also a great way to express your love for someone. My parents set a really good example for me, by sticking with each other for 29 years even when the road was getting really rough. If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t even believe in marriage because of the many couples getting divorced today. It is heartbreaking when you think about it, especially for their children. To all the young married couples out there I beg of you, if life gets a bit difficult promise me you will think of your children before making any rush decision and giving up. Because love is the most powerful thing in the world and I know that you must be thinking that it’s kind of cheesy to say, but I honestly believe it’s true. And I think that there is no greater way of showing love than by giving life to someone, loving them and caring for them.

Another thing is that I have always been fascinated by philosophy and one of my favourite quotes is this: “I was always complaining about the fact that I didn’t have any shoes until the day I met someone who didn’t have any feet.” This brings me to talk about another important thing in life. Be thankful for what you have, because no matter how bad things can be in your life someone somewhere on this planet has it 10 times worse than you. Like I used to tell my friends when they would complain about meaningless problems: There are worse things in life than that! That’s why I always pray and thank God every day for being alive and for having such a wonderful family.

While I still have your attention I would like to thank you all for all the support you have shown me, by sponsoring me, or buying spaghetti or dessert plates. Thank you so much. Thanks to all the staff of A.D.E.L.S restaurant for believing in me so much and for spending countless hours helping me fundraise for this pageant.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask all the parents to be there for their children even if it’s for hockey practice, if they need some advice or even if they do something bad. Show them that you care and them that you love them as often as possible. My parents believe in me and they always tell me that they love me, and for that I am forever thankful, because it has brought me here today. Kids, even if your parents don’t always tell you that they love you, just know that they do, it’s just that some of them just don’t know how to express it. And don’t forget that if you set your mind to achieve a goal anything is possible, as long as you have God by your side. Even if you doubt yourself or you think that nobody believes in you, He does.

I could still talk for hours but I will finish by saying this last thing: Mom and Dad, thank you so much for being such great role models for me, and thank you also for all the things you had to sacrifice so we could go to school, have clothing, food and a house. I hope I make you proud because I am proud to be your daughter. And I pray to God that if one day I have a family of my own, I will be half as good as you have been to me. You made me who I am today.

Thank you all for listening and God bless you.