The Nation is very proud to announce that two of its employees, Dana-Marie Williams and Tiffany Deer, have been elected to the board of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal. All of us here are pleased at their initiative in joining this much-needed organization.

First Nations women come to the shelter from not only the urban areas but also from the rural reservations for assistance. The shelter exists to help those who are less fortunate in their lives and offers them opportunities for a better future.

Tiffany told me that she felt empowered when she volunteered. In her role as a board member she will be helping others to become empowered. This fills us all with pride. The Native communities know the value of volunteers. There are volunteer fire departments in each Cree community. We also have people who lend a hand in food baskets, coach hockey, broom-ball or baseball, help with the community feasts, assist Elders, and give their time for a host of other activities.

Our communities would be very different without the dedicated volunteers. They would be colder and less friendly without the people who freely donate their time, knowledge and skills to make the community a better place. The participation by volunteers such as Dana-Marie and Tiffany build a better future and strengthen Aboriginal ways of life.

It is nice to see people who want to make a difference in their community. That’s why, for instance, my old friend Ida LaBillois-Montour became president of the Montreal Native Women’s Shelter.

At this time I would like to congratulate all volunteers who make a difference in their communities wherever they are.

They may raise funds for charity as did Mistissini’s golf tournament ($10,000 raised for a van for the Elders’ home), coach sports teams, run youth and children’s programs (such as Kiwanis, scouts, or junior rangers), work to protect the environment (including picking up garbage to make their community look better, help feed people with the Wreath of Hope, Native Friendship Centre food bingos, and so on), and help plan and carry out community events (Christmas feasts, anniversaries, memorial services).

By the way, that was the short list of why volunteers are needed. Fresh ones are needed every year. The new blood strengthens our helpful volunteer-run organizations with renewed enthusiasm and energy.

I found the times I volunteered to be rewarding beyond what I expected. I encourage you all to go out and make a difference for the better in your own communities.