Mother’s Day, Updates on Calgary & Indigenous Law Conference

A poem to celebrate all the amazing and inspiring Mother’s in our communities.

This photo was taken by Women Warrior participant, Ashley for our photovoice project on Indigenous women’s health and safety. You can view her video on our Youtube channel here.

I see you.
The tired eyes.The leaky breasts.
Yawns escape as we talk. Three hours of sleep.
A cocktail of hormones and emotions.
How is it possible to be drunk on love with borderline depression?
No one told you it would be this hard.
Growing a human and shedding your skin.
Motherhood.

I see you.
The tired eyes.
Groundhog Day Year Three:
Changing diapers, saying no, snacks, naps, and play dough.
There is no glamour in eating leftover food off the kitchen table
And potty training.
You question your sanity and if the Mom brain is permanent.
No one told you about the mind-numbing repetition.
Nurturing a human and longing for the past.
Motherhood.

I see you.
The tired eyes.
Worried.
Trouble at school, attitude and frustration.
You must be doing something wrong because you’re at a loss.
Your child is wandering away from you.
It’s like a guiding a mountain climber with a match.
You can’t see all the danger and you feel responsible for their demise.
Guiding a human and letting go at the same time.
Motherhood.

I see you.
Looking in the mirror at a body that doesn’t feel like your own.
Droopy breasts, stretch marks, Mom stomach.
Silent judgment.
A body that grew, nurtured, and guided a child to life.

I see you.
The beauty of a Mother’s soul.
Sacrifice.
You gave and received a gift greater than yourself.
If only you could love yourself the same way your child does
Unconditionally.
Motherhood.


Calgary Women Warriors Urban poling (Nordic walking) class.
Bev Renaud, City of Calgary social worker (far right in black) emailed me yesterday about this week’s class stating:
Last evening the ladies had a blast we had an instructor facilitate Dance-Play, so much fun, laughing, exertion and the most exciting aspect of our circle last night was the ladies did not want to leave they sat and chatted, asked questions, laughed it was a wonderful evening.

 

Calgary program round circle discussion. Facilitator, Loretta (green shirt) shares the cultural practice of smudging with participants every week.

 

Calgary participant, Heather (in pink) states: Being in a fitness program with a sisterhood of women who share common bonds helps make it easier to challenge myself physically. Pushing my limits of comfort in order to achieve my health goals.
Instead of feeling like we are competing, I feel like we are working together to achieve to common goal of healthier bodies, better nutrition and healing community. Women Warriors is the revolution I needed for my physical wellness!

 

Facilitator, Loretta’s reflections since the Calgary start date of April 4th.

 

I attended a Reconciliation, Heart of Treaty 6 signing event at Lakeland College mid-April. One of our Women Warriors Lloydminster participants, Helen dropped by to visit before urban poling in Bud Miller.

 

On April 26th-27th I attended an Indigenous Law Conference in Vancouver with my dad (pictured left), President of the North Slave Metis Alliance, Bill Enge. We attended because prominent Vancouver based Metis lawyer, Jean Teillet was presenting on NSMA lawsuit wins.

A Story of Unrequited Love

(This story was featured on May 2nd in the Women Warriors Yellowknifer news column).

Last week I received a last minute invite from my dad, the President of the North Slave Metis Alliance (NSMA), Bill Enge to attend a two-day Indigenous law conference in Vancouver starting April 25th.  It was a welcome reprieve from the eternal winter in Alberta; I live in Canada’s only border city, Lloydminster, where the news reported in mid-April a record-breaking number of cold days this winter – 167 consecutive days of minimum temperatures at or below zero degrees.I did not have to be coerced into fresh coastal air, green grass, sunshine and the entertaining conversations with my dad and Uncle, Arnold Enge. I arranged childcare, postponed my university studies, and hopped on a plane for the city of amazing wine, food, culture, and beauty.

The highlight of the law conference, and the reason that the NSMA board, including Marc Whitford, and Bob Mercredi were all in attendance, was prominent Vancouver based Metis lawyer, and great-grandniece of famed Métis leader Louis Riel, Jean Teillet was presenting on Metis law cases from across Canada. She included in her presentation the NSMA Bathurst caribou lawsuit win against the N.W.T and the latest win in October 2017 of the federal and territorial government’s failure to properly consult NSMA on land claim negotiations.

Bill was in his glory as he quizzed Jean on legal definitions and Metis rights after her presentation. You could tell she was hesitant to answer some of his more controversial law questions – the moderator intervened on her behalf before anything too dicey rolled across the stage and the lawyers, including Crown prosecutors and government officials ducked for cover.

After the presentation Jean strolled up to Bill and chided him for speaking above everyone’s head, as few people have the amount of Metis legal experience and knowledge that both of them do. Personally, I think she didn’t want to answer his questions in a room full of lawyers and was using avoidance tactics to divert controversy – that’s why she’s paid the big money!

The best part of their exchange was Bill posing with Jean for a picture, his arm wrapped around her shoulders, as he professed his admiration for her law skills. I laughed as I snapped a photo of her begrudgingly standing beside a giant Metis guy wearing shorts at a law conference. I admit that Bill doesn’t always have the most professional garb in the room, but when it comes to Metis rights, activism, and the law, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone more passionate.

I suspect Bill will never find another Metis woman after his own heart and as well versed on Indigenous law, and Metis rights as Jean; however, it is unrequited love. It still doesn’t deter him from getting a picture with her any chance he gets, and gushing about her afterwards.

I posted their photo on Twitter and tagged her in it. The next day she liked the tweet and I texted Bill to tell him the exciting news. He replied, “I love that photo with her…I think I’ll frame it…she’s my hero.”

My lesson after this law conference and Bill’s enthusiasm, regardless of Jean’s ambivalence, is that passion will get you far in life, and while Jean was a little annoyed by Bill’s questions, and his persistence, I think she has hard earned respect for his legal knowledge and passion for Metis rights. I know I do, and it’s always fun to watch him in action.

As Bill’s birthday present I think I’ll make a Jean Teillet collage of all their photos together and frame it. I’ll send Jean one to her University of British Colombia campus office with a personal invite to visit us in Yellowknife. After all, the NSMA made legal history with our recent lawsuit win, and she acknowledged the importance of it at this law conference – we must be doing something right!

Bill saw this restaurant, Tomahawks on Diners, Drive-In and Dives and we had to go. Best banana cream pie he’s ever had! I had apple crumble and it was amazing! Check it out in North Vancouver!

 

Best running weather is late April in Vancouver when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. I ran around Stanley Park for an hour and a half one morning. I always say the reason Vancouverites are fit is that the beauty of the landscape and city motivates them to get outside.

 

Next week’s newsletter with feature an interview I did for the Yellowknifer with Dr. Rebecca Saah, assistant professor in the Department of Community Health. Her research is focused on youth cannabis use and the public health policy implications of cannabis legalization in Canada. She will be in Yellowknife on June 11th to present to high schools, health professionals, and recreation leaders on cannabis legalization and youth.
  • I’m also working on an appendix for our manual that includes tobacco/cannabis education for our Women Warriors participants. I will be attending a workshop in North Battleford on June 17th hosted by Battle River Treaty 6 Health Centre. The guest speakers, are Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, CAMH, faculty members –Dr. Peter Selby and Ms. Rosa Dragonetti.
  • The month of July I will be in Yellowknife with my family and doing some volunteer work with the Yellowknife Women’s Society/Centre for Northern Families.
  • The Onion Lake Cree Nation Women Warriors program has been postponed until September.

Please contact me through email if you have any questions about the Women Warriors program. Shelley@womenwarriors.club.
I am currently busy finishing a research methodologies course through the University of Athabasca, but I will do my best to answer all inquiries or direct you to my collaborator, Dr. Wicklum.

PS. To all the researchers on my email list – I have just started to learn how to research and I CANNOT believe the amount of consideration that goes into every detail. Also, I am extremely biased. LOL! Happy researching everyone!