One year ago, Tony and Platinum Pro-Claim gave me an opportunity to explore and discover my indigenous ancestry in the search for finding a way to have our company better align with local indigenous values.
“We knew the first thing we had to do on that road was listen.”
That search introduced me to a local elder: Don Tourangeau, of the Nêhiyawak (Cree) people.
Don was willing to come speak with the company, and to share with us in a small ceremony. Everyone who had a chance to participate left the ceremony changed. We learned the power of sharing stories and how pain changes inside you as you share your truth. We learned lessons in humility and how no human is greater than any other. We learned how no suffering justifies you more than another, and how everyone deserves to be treated with love.
I spent my childhood not knowing I was Metis. My mother never identified, and neither did her sister. I was 15, the first time my Grandmother ever shared my family’s stories. There was a fear and a shame of being Metis that was present for a long time. It left me feeling disconnected. My Grandmother was the first to teach me pride in my heritage, and she has now built records of my family generations back.
I always felt guilt expressing my Metis heritage because of my lack of knowledge of the culture, and because every introduction would be met with a raised eyebrow. The only people in my life who have not made me feel shame were those in indigenous communities. Nowhere else but my own family have I felt so included and welcome.
Don was no exception. I’d met with Don prior to our ceremony, to present our offering for his services. To speak personally with an Elder was an opportunity I almost couldn’t believe. I was so humbled to be able to share time and learn from him, and he welcomed me without a second thought.
That day, Don taught me how to smudge. A smudge is a ceremony of cleansing, and something you can do on your own any time. It’s a practice in mindfulness and gratitude that clears and centers your mind.
I used to come home stressed and angry, and it would affect the people around me. One day, I came home, and the first thing I did was smudge. I remember so clearly, sitting in the sun and the wind and feeling nothing but gratitude anymore. I gave Don a call immediately to thank him for his lesson, and he invited me to a group he hosts on Sundays.
We’ve connected and worked together for a year now. I am so grateful for the how much I have connected with and felt welcome in his small community. I learn weekly about cultures, traditions, and beliefs of indigenous people firsthand. He even asked me to be his oskâpêwis (Elders helper/Helper at ceremonies)!
This relationship, and this connection to culture is so dear to me. It could not have been possible if we had not taken our first step as a company towards understanding indigenous values.
Although Don is no longer in a position to host ceremonies, I hope that our goal of learning and incorporating Indigenous values into our daily lives and operations continues to grow. I am so proud to have been a part of it so far and can’t wait to continue learning and living these values.
Platinum Pro-Claim has given me an opportunity to connect with my Metis heritage in the most genuine way. I was able to host a ceremony with a local Elder for our staff; and build a relationship with him over the past year. Every step of the way, our management team has had my back and has sought to understand indigenous values with humility and authenticity.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue to understand and integrate Indigenous values, and hope to bring new perspectives to the way we operate as an organization over the coming years.
Connecting with my Metis roots has been a goal of mine for most of my life.
Thank you to Tony and the management team for listening to my story and allowing me to follow something dear to my heart.
Platinum Pro-Claim Restoration