Otipemisiwak- the people who own themselves
Taanishi kiyawâw. Danielle LaRose dishinikaashoon. Amiskwacîswâskahikan niwiken maka Waskasoo River Valley d'ooschin. Ni parenti kayash oschi niyaa aux nommes de Daze, Nadeau, Marchand, Bouvette, i LaRose, ekwa ni wahkomakanak Métis de ni papa Red River i Pembina d'ooschiiw.
Aen femme michif niya, aen koonteur niya, aen otipemisow-iskwêw niya.
I was born where Treaty 6 and Treaty 7 meet, along the banks of the Waskasoo or Red Deer River. I am a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta currently living in amiskwâcîwaskahikan and I am privileged to be a guest on these lands. Ni parenti kayash oschii niiya- my "way back" ancestors to whom I belong are the Daze, Nadeau, Marchand, Bouvette and LaRose families. These paternal Métis relatives lived in the historic Red River community near Pembina, North Dakota before heading west and settling near the Waskasoo River Valley in the late 19th century.
My maternal line is one of Mennonite heritage, names Kehler and Abrams, which can also be traced back to Red River to what is now Altona. They fled Russia in 1875, arriving on Turtle Island in the wake of the Red River Resistance when the Canadian government was forcing Métis people off their lands to make way for more appealing settlers ( aka white, non-Catholic Europeans). Effectively, the Canadian state forcibly removed my Métis ancestors from their lands in Red River in order to give that same land to my Mennonite ancestors.
As a person with mixed heritage, and therefore a mixed relationship with the land, this duality can be complex to unpack. I acknowledge that I have and I will continue to benefit from colonialism and white privilege. I also acknowledge all that was stolen from my Métis ancestors through the pressures and machinations of colonialism. I hold myself accountable to my ancestors, my family, and my community by committing to reconnection, learning, and sharing in the spirit of kwayskahstasowin- setting things right.
The shortest distance between two people is a story, and I am grateful to offer my gifts as both story-teller and bridge-builder in service to all my honoured relatives in wahkohtowin.
kinanâskomitinawâw to my mâmawâpiyak and all the Elders, artists, and Aunties who continue to support me on this journey.