Transcript: Marlene Pierre | Jun 23, 1994

(music plays)

The opening sequence begins.
Fast clips show the daybreak on a lake, birds flying in the sky, and a house covered with snow.

A song says TALK TO ME, SO I CAN HEAR
YOUR VOICE LIKE A LAKE
SO DEEP AND CLEAR
SOARING THROUGH THE
TOPS OF THE TREES,
DANCING BY MY WINDOW
LIKE A WIND BLOWING THROUGH
MY DOOR, DISTANT VOICES,
DISTANT VOICES
DISTANT VOICES
DISTANT VOICES

(music plays)

Marlene appears on screen. She’s in her fifties. She has long curly dark blond hair and wears a patterned jacket, a white turtleneck, thick glasses and long earrings. The caption changes to "Marlene Pierre. Political Organizer, Activist."

Marlene says WOMEN WOULD CALL ON
THE SLY TO TELL US WHAT WAS
HAPPENING TO THEM.
THAT IN SOME CASES IN THOSE
COMMUNITIES UP NORTH,
THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO LEAVE.
THEY WERE PRISONERS IN
THEIR OWN COMMUNITY.
WHEN THEY WOULD TRY TO
ESCAPE A VIOLENT SITUATION,
THEY COULDN'T.
THEY WERE KEPT THERE BY
CHIEF RUNNING DOWN TO THE
DOCK AND TELLING THE PLANE
TO GO, YOU CAN'T TAKE
THIS WOMAN.
IF YOU DO, YOU'RE GOING TO
LOSE YOUR JOB, AND ALL KINDS
OF THREATS.
AND THAT STILL IS
GOING ON TODAY.

(music plays)

The title of the show appears in yellow letters. It reads "Distant Voices."

A caption reads "with Eva Solomon, CSJ." She’s in her fifties. She has long, dark, curly hair and wears a mustard blouse.

A slate on screen reads "Marlene Pierre has been an activist and organizer in the provincial and national aboriginal movement since 1971. She has also been active with the women’s movement, particularly in Thunder Bay and was an effective lobbyist at the Canadian constitutional discussions in both 1982 and 1992 where she initially hesitated to accept Native self-government when it was proposed. She felt nothing was built into the original proposal to protect Native women. Her advocacy on behalf of women grows out of the stories of desperation she has encountered in the far north."

Eva appears with Marlene in a room. They talk.

Eva says IT WAS HERE IN THUNDER
BAY THAT THE NATIVE WOMEN
CAME TO RECOGNIZE THAT
THEIR ISSUES, THEIR
CONCERNS, WEREN'T THE
SAME AS THE OTHER WOMEN.
AND THEY BRANCHED OFF
AND DEVELOPED THEIR OWN.
AND THAT WAS THE BEGINNING
OF NATIVE WOMEN'S GROUPS
ACROSS THE
COUNTRY, IN A WAY.

A picture shows a younger Marlene sitting at a table along with two other women in their thirties. Following, other captions show groups of women participating in a meeting.

Marlene says IN 1971, A GROUP OF WOMEN,
AS YOU SPOKE OF, NOT
ONLY FROM THUNDER BAY, BUT
FROM OTHER PARTS OF ONTARIO,
GATHERED HERE.
AND WE DID ESTABLISH
THE ONTARIO NATIVE
WOMEN'S ASSOCIATION.
MILLIE BARRETT WAS OUR
FIRST EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.
HE HAD A LITTLE SHACK,
TOO, ON FREDERICA STREET.
WE ALL CAME FROM VERY HUMBLE
BEGINNINGS, ONE COULD CALL
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS, BUT TO ME
THEY'RE CHARACTERISTIC OF
THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE
STRUGGLED THE HARDEST.
I GUESS BECAUSE WE DIDN'T
HAVE ALL THAT OTHER OUTSIDE
STUFF THAT AFFECT PEOPLE
WHO, SAY, LIVE IN TORONTO
AND OTHER PLACES.

Eva says WHAT WAS DIFFERENT
ABOUT WHAT WAS AFFECTING
YOU, AND WHAT WAS AFFECTING
THE PEOPLE IN TORONTO?

Marlene says I NEVER DID FIT
IN WITH THE SO-CALLED
FEMINIST MOVEMENT.
OUR MOVEMENT DIDN'T
FIT INTO THAT.


Eva says WHY IS IT DIFFERENT?

Marlene says WE'RE CONCERNED MORE WITH
BREAD AND BUTTER ISSUES,
YOU KNOW?
TRYING TO STOP GETTING
BEATEN EVERY TIME YOU TURN
AROUND, 'COS THAT WAS VERY
PREVALENT IN FAMILIES
AT THAT POINT.
WE FOUND THAT MOST OF THOSE
WOMEN WERE MIDDLE CLASS,
TO HIGH CLASS.
AND BEING FROM NORTHWESTERN
ONTARIO, I COULDN'T FEEL
COMFORTABLE THERE.
WE WORKED HARDER AT OUR OWN
MOVEMENT AND ADDRESSED THE
ISSUES ON OUR TERMS.
AND I GUESS BECAUSE OF THE
KINDS OF ISSUES WE WERE
DEALING WITH, BREAD AND
BUTTER, AND A LOT OF OUR
PEOPLE WERE ON SOCIAL
ASSISTANCE, THEY NEVER HAD
GOOD PLACES TO LIVE IN.
NO JOBS.
NO PROMISE FOR A FUTURE.
SO WE SET ABOUT BECAUSE WE
BELIEVE VERY STRONGLY THAT
OUR WHOLE SOCIETY HAD BEEN
DECIMATED BY THE INDIAN ACT,
BY THE COMING OF THE
WHITE MAN, AND IMPOSITION
OF ALL KINDS OF RULES AND
REGULATIONS THAT WEREN'T OURS.
THE COMPLETE TAKEOVER
OF OUR COMMUNITIES...
SOCIALLY, ECONOMICALLY.
AND OUR FAMILIES, THE FAMILY
UNIT, MOST DEVASTATION WAS
ON THE FAMILY UNIT.
AND NOW WE LOOK BACK AND
WE SEE ALL THOSE THINGS
THAT DID THAT.
AND WE'RE DEALING WITH
THE END RESULT OF THAT.
AND WE BELIEVE VERY STRONGLY
THAT IT IS US, THE WOMEN,
THAT ARE GOING TO MAKE THE
CHANGES IN OUR COMMUNITIES.
IT'S OUR RESPONSIBILITY.

As she speaks, the screen shows different views of a city and the landscape next to a long road with houses and lots of green spaces.

Marlene continues
IN THE FAR NORTHERN
COMMUNITIES, I CALL IT THE
BUCKSKIN CURTAIN BECAUSE
NOT ONLY ARE WE CONTROLLED
BY THE GOVERNMENT, THE
INDIAN ACT GOVERNMENTS,
WE'RE CONTROLLED
BY THE CHURCHES.
AND THOSE CHURCHES, TO BE
CONTROLLED BY CHURCH AND
STATE, WHAT GUARANTEES ARE
THERE THAT THE WOMEN ARE
GOING TO RISE OUT OF THE
TYPICAL... WHAT HAS BECOME
TYPICAL FAMILY LIFE?
THE ABUSE, THE SEXUAL ABUSE,
THE INCESTUAL ABUSE, THE
PREOCCUPATION OF MINISTERS
AND PRIESTS AND WHATNOT TO
COME IN AND DO THINGS TO
OUR CHILDREN, AND THE WHOLE
SYSTEM OF TAKING OUR
CHILDREN OUT OF OUR FAMILY
UNITS TO SEND TO SCHOOL.
AND IF WE WERE TO LOOK
UNDERNEATH THE SUICIDE
ISSUES SO PREVALENT UP
NORTH RIGHT NOW, YOU WANT
TO KNOW WHAT THAT YOUNG
PERSON IS THINKING?
HE'S GOT ALL THE AUTHORITIES
AGAINST HIM, INCLUDING THE
CHURCH, HIS PARENTS, THE
SCHOOL SYSTEM THAT HE'S IN.

Eva says CHIEF AND COUNCIL.

Marlene continues CHIEF AND COUNCIL.
MAYBE EVEN THE HEALTH NURSE
IS ON THE SIDE OF... SO THAT
PERSON HAS VERY LITTLE,
THOSE 12, 13, 14-YEAR-OLD
KIDS HAVE VERY
LITTLE TO HELP THEM.

(music plays)

A clip shows a group of teenagers playing volleyball followed by a close up to a local cemetery.

A slate reads "Young Native men are five times more likely to commit suicide than other Canadians."

Marlene says HOW DO WE OVERCOME
THIS OVERWHELMING PROBLEM
OF ABUSE WITHIN
OUR FAMILIES?
HEALING CIRCLES.
NO COST.
YOU CAN DO IT IN
YOUR OWN FAMILY.
YOU CAN DO IT IN
THE COMMUNITY.
YOU BRING YOUR PEOPLE
TOGETHER IN THIS CIRCLE,
AND THAT'S WHAT HAS BEEN
THE MOST SIGNIFICANT
HEALING THAT'S GOING ON IN
OUR COMMUNITIES RIGHT NOW IS
THROUGH THE CIRCLES.

A series of landscapes are followed by a picture portraying two kids posing in their traditional Native American costumes.

Eva says ALTHOUGH SHE WORKS
HARD, MARLENE HAS ALWAYS
PUT HER FAMILY FIRST.
SHE HAS SHARED HER BELIEFS
AND TRADITIONS WITH THE
THREE CHILDREN SHE RAISED
AS A SINGLE MOTHER AND THE
DAUGHTER SHE RECEIVED
THROUGH A CUSTOM ADOPTION.
WHEN SHE WAS A CHILD, ONE OF
THE PIVOTAL EXPERIENCES SHE
RECALLS IS BEING THROWN OFF
THE RESERVE BECAUSE OF HER
FAMILY'S CLOSE TIES
TO THE OLD WAYS.

Pictures on screen show Marlene’s daughter, and Marlene as a little girl with her father.

Marlene says MY FATHER HAD...
MOTHER HAD 11 CHILDREN.
WE LIVED IN A TWO-BEDROOM
SHACK SMALLER THAN THIS ROOM.
AND I GUESS MY GRANDFATHER
WAS LAST OF THE MIDEWIWIN
SOCIETY AROUND THIS AREA.
AND BECAUSE OF THAT, THEY
WERE PRETTY MUCH ON THE
OUTSIDE OF THE COMMUNITY
BECAUSE OF THE INFLUENCE
OF THE CHURCH.
THE INDIAN AGENT AND THE
CHIEF AND SO FORTH HAD MADE
A DECISION ABOUT PEOPLE
LIKE MY FATHER WHO HAD HAD
A NON-NATIVE FATHER, AND
THEY WERE ASKED TO LEAVE
THE RESERVE AS WELL.
THERE WERE A NUMBER OF
FAMILIES WHO WERE ASKED
TO LEAVE THE RESERVE.
I KNOW ALL THOSE PEOPLE
TODAY, AND I FEEL A KINSHIP
WITH THEM BECAUSE SOMETHING
OUTSIDE, A NEGATIVE FORCE
OUTSIDE OF OUR OWN LIFE
HAD CAUSED A DIVISION.
THOSE OF US WHO COULD LIVE
ON THE RESERVE, AND THOSE
OF US WHO COULDN'T
LIVE ON THE RESERVE.
THOSE OF US WHO COULD BE CALLED
INDIAN BY THE GOVERNMENT.
THAT WAS VERY INFLUENTIAL
TO ME AS I GREW OLDER THAT
I DIDN'T LIKE THE INJUSTICE.
I WANTED TO ADD A STORY
ABOUT MY MOTHER, HAVING TO
GO OVER TO THE RECTORY OF
THE St. ANDREW'S CHURCH
IN PORT ARTHUR.
SHE NEEDED HER BIRTH
CERTIFICATE FOR SOMETHING.
I DON'T REMEMBER
WHAT IT WAS.
AND THE FATHER WAS
THERE, I WON'T NAME HIM.
AND MY MOTHER, AND, YOU
KNOW, LIKE FOR US TO GO ALL
THE WAY TO PORT ARTHUR,
THAT'S A BIG, BIG TRIP IN
THOSE DAYS, AGAIN.
AND WE ENDED UP ASKING, MY
MOTHER WAS ASKING HIM FOR
THIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE.
AND HE WENT BACK FOR A
FEW MINUTES, AND HE CAME
BACK OUT AND HE TOLD HER
THERE WAS NO BIRTH CERTIFICATE.
YOU WERE NOT BAPTIZED.
YOU'RE A PAGAN.
AND I DIDN'T KNOW, OF COURSE,
AT THAT TIME WHAT PAGAN MEANT.
BUT NOW I KNOW
WHAT PAGAN MEANS.
AND I SAW MY MOTHER CRYING.
AND WE JUST TURNED AND
WALKED OUT OF THAT CHURCH
AND WENT HOME.
BUT I REMEMBER THAT.
AND I REALIZED WHEN I WAS
GROWING UP, GETTING TO
UNDERSTAND THE ENGLISH
LANGUAGE REALLY WELL,
WHAT PAGAN MEANT.
AND WHY WOULD HE CALL
MY MOTHER A PAGAN?
AND NOW, I EVEN UNDERSTAND
BETTER THAT WE WERE BEING
CALLED, ALL OF US WERE BEING
CALLED PAGANS IF WE WERE
NOT BAPTIZED IN THE CHURCH.
MY NAME MEANS THUNDER WOMAN.
AND ALL MY CHILDREN
HAVE THEIR INDIAN NAMES.
WE ALL KNOW THE SIGNIFICANCE
OF WHAT THAT MEANS.
I GOT MY NAME
WHEN I WAS BORN.
IT WAS VERY BEAUTIFUL THING
TO CARRY ALL MY LIFE.

A series of pictures shows Marlene’s kids at a very young age.

Eva says WHY WAS THAT SO
IMPORTANT FOR YOU?

Marlene says I HAD THE OCCASION
TO VISIT DOG RIVER WHERE MY
GRANDFATHER AND THEM HAD
SETTLED ON THE TRAPLINE.
AND I STOOD BY, WENT AND
VISITED THE PLACE WHERE
HE HAD HIS CABIN, AND SAW
THERE, AND FELT THERE, A
GREAT PROUDNESS OF, I WAS
JUST SO HAPPY THAT I WAS
BORN AN INDIAN, BORN
ANISHINAABE, BORN OJIBWAY,
BORN OJIBWAY WOMAN.

A new picture shows Marlene next to another woman, both dressed in traditional costumes.

Eva says CERTAINLY THERE WERE A
LOT MORE TENDENCIES TOWARDS
A MATRIARCHAL SOCIETY
THAN PATRIARCHAL.
AND ONE OF THE WAYS THAT
WAS SHOWN WAS MORE IN THE
TRADITIONAL COMMUNITIES
WHERE THE LEADERSHIP WAS
ALL DIFFERENT PEOPLE,
AND DIFFERENT PEOPLE HAD
DIFFERENT ROLES TO PLAY.
AND WITH THE COMING OF THE
EUROPEAN SOCIETIES, THE
WHOLE CHIEF SYSTEM AS WE
SEE IT IS NOT A TRADITIONAL
SOCIETY, IT'S NOT A
TRADITIONAL ORGANIZATION
OR PATTERN EVEN IN
THE COMMUNITIES.

Marlene says THAT'S THE THOUGHT THAT
I ADVANCE ALL THE TIME
WHEN WE GO TO TALK ABOUT
CONSTITUTION, OR OUR
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE
OTHER GOVERNMENTS, IS THAT
WE HAVE OUR OWN SYSTEM.
IT'S UNFORTUNATE THAT PEOPLE
LIKE ME HAVE TAKEN 49 YEARS
TO REALIZE AND UNDERSTAND
WHAT THAT MEANS.
SOME OF OUR LEADERSHIP IS
STILL REALLY CONTROLLED BY
INDIAN ACT, GOVERNMENT.
AND FOR US,
THAT'S NOT GOOD.
NO ONE IS GOING
TO HAND YOU POWER.
THEY'LL HAND US MONEY, BUT
THEY WON'T HAND US POWER.
SO IN MANY WAYS, WE HAVE TO
UNDERTAKE THAT POWER OURSELVES.

New clips show footage of the local forests during the winter, covered in snow.

Eva says WHERE DOES
POWER COME FROM?

Marlene says OUR POWER
COMES FROM THE CREATOR.
AND HE HELPS US TO, HE GIVES
US... HOW SHOULD I SAY THIS?
WE RELY ON OUR RELATIONSHIP
WITH THE CREATOR TO MAKE
SURE THAT WE'RE GOING
IN THE RIGHT PATH.
AND THAT'S DIFFERENT THAN
RELYING ON DEPARTMENT
OF INDIAN AFFAIRS.
THAT WE USE OUR OWN
RESOURCEFULNESS.
USE OUR OWN THOUGHTS,
OUR OWN WAYS OF THINKING.
TEN YEARS AGO, IF YOU WOULD
HAVE ASKED ME, WELL, WHAT'S
INDIAN SELF-GOVERNMENT, I
MAY NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE
TO ANSWER YOU.
BUT I'VE LIVED TEN MORE
YEARS NOW, AND I SEE ALL
THE THINGS WE DID FROM
1968 - '69, WE WERE ALREADY
ON OUR PATH, AND WE WERE
ALREADY SELF-DETERMINED PEOPLE.

A clip shows a group of Native Americans chanting, dancing and playing drums as part of a ceremony. A slate on screen reads "Marlene helped organize the Ontario Native Women’s Association and has been its executive director since 1989. She was a founding president and is a member of the Thunder Bay Native Women’s Association."

Eva says I FELT THERE'S SOME
MORE FUNDAMENTAL THINGS
THAT GO MUCH FURTHER BACK
THAN EVEN TEN YEARS AGO.
AND I CAME TO THIS
UNDERSTAND WAY BACK IN 1959
OR SOMETHING WHEN WE TALKED
AND SAW HOW ALCOHOL WAS
AFFECTING OUR COMMUNITIES.
I REALIZED THEN THAT ALCOHOL
REALLY WASN'T THE PROBLEM,
IT WAS THE LACK OF A SENSE
OF IDENTITY AND A SENSE OF
WHAT OUR OWN PERSONAL
WORTH AND DIGNITY WAS.
TO ME, THAT WAS WHERE THE
MAJOR PROBLEM WAS, WAS TO BE
ABLE TO GET OUR PEOPLE TO
RECOGNIZE WHO THEY WERE
AND WHAT THAT MEANS.
AND I ASKED THE SAME
QUESTION IN TERMS OF THE
WHOLE ISSUE OF ABUSE.
IT IS A MAJOR CONCERN, BUT
THERE IS SOMETHING MUCH
MORE FUNDAMENTAL
THAT'S BEHIND IT.

Marlene says RIGHT.
YES, WE ALL
AGREE WITH THAT.
THAT THE ABUSE IS THE END
RESULT OF A WHOLE LOT OF
OTHER SOCIAL ILLS.

Eva says THAT BRINGS ME BACK TO
SOMETHING THAT WE SPOKE OF
AT THE BEGINNING OF
THE CONVERSATION.
I'M BEGINNING TO REALIZE
THAT THE SPIRITUALITY
THAT WAS TRADITIONALLY OURS
IS A MAJOR PART OF THE LOSS
OF WHO WE ARE TODAY.
BECAUSE WITH THE SYSTEM AS
IT WAS WHEN THE EUROPEANS
FIRST CAME HERE, OUT OF THE
IGNORANCE THEY HAD IN THEIR
OWN LANDS, THEY WERE AGAINST
ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHAT
THEY BELIEVED WAS
THE RIGHT THING.
AND IT GOES BACK TO THE WHOLE
IDEA OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
THAT WE'RE THE ONLY ONES
THAT HAVE THE ONE TRUE GOD,
THAT ALL THESE OTHERS DON'T.
AND THAT LEFT THE EUROPEAN
PEOPLE COMING TO US WITH THE
SENSE THAT THEY HAD TO
CIVILIZE US BECAUSE
WE DIDN'T HAVE THE RIGHT
GOVERNMENT, AND WE DIDN'T
HAVE THE RIGHT LANGUAGE,
AND WE DIDN'T HAVE THE
RIGHT SPIRITUALITY.
WE DIDN'T WORSHIP THE SAME
GOD AS THEY DID, SO THEY
HAD TO CIVILIZE US.
AND THE CONDEMNATION OF OUR
SPIRITUALITY BY THE CHURCH,
AND THE CRIMINALIZATION OF
IT BY THE GOVERNMENTS IN
THE SENSE OF NOT ALLOWING US
TO PRACTICE OUR CEREMONIES,
IS PART OF WHAT
DESTROYED THAT SENSE OF
PERSONAL DIGNITY AND PRIDE
BECAUSE THAT SPIRITUALITY
WAS ALL PERVASIVE IN
EVERYTHING THAT WE DID.

As Eva speaks, the screen shows black and white pictures of little kids at school mixed with women dancing to traditional music.

Marlene says I AGREE WITH YOU.
OUR OWN FAMILY WERE VICTIMS.
WE WERE VICTIMS
OF THE CHURCH.
STILL ARE TODAY.
I SEE A LOT OF OUR PEOPLE
FOLLOWING OTHER RELIGIONS
THAT ARE NOT OUR OWN.
AND IT'S... I HOPE THAT
WE'RE GOING THROUGH A
TRANSITION, AND SOMETIMES
I SEE GOOD SIGNS THAT EVEN
THE MOST DOUBTLESS OF THE
ROMAN CATHOLIC PEOPLE ARE
STARTING TO RECOGNIZE THAT
WHAT THEY ARE CALLING THEIR
OWN PERSONAL RELIGION IS
REALLY AN ADOPTED RELIGION.
WE HAVE ADOPTED MANY,
MANY OF THE FOREIGN WAYS.
SO MUCH THAT WE BELIEVE THEY
ARE OURS, WHEN, IN FACT,
YOU START TO TALK TO SOME
OF OUR MOST NOTED SPIRITUAL
LEADERS, THEY TELL YOU VERY
KINDLY, AND IN A VERY GOOD WAY,
THAT OUR WAY IS TO RESPECT
ALL THOSE, THE FOUR COLOURS,
THE FOUR KINDS OF
PEOPLE, THE RED, ALL THE
DIFFERENT RACES.
AND THERE ARE MANY
THINGS WE CAN SHARE.
AND THAT'S NOT TO SAY THAT I
CANNOT TAKE THE GOOD THINGS
FROM THE NON-NATIVE PEOPLE
AND USE THEM IN MY OWN LIFE.
WE ALL HAVE OUR GIFTS TO
SHARE WITH EACH OTHER.
SO I DON'T, I MEAN, THOSE
KINDS OF THINGS ARE
ALL RIGHT WITH ME.
IT'S WHEN WE START IMPOSING
CERTAIN LAWS AND WAYS OF
LIFE THAT ARE CONTRARY TO
INDIAN WAYS, THAT'S WHEN
I GET A LITTLE HOT.

(music plays)

A new clips shows the course of a river in the area and follows a group of people to the main entrance of a building under constructions. The roof and walls and completely made of wood and the place itself has the shape of a prism.

Eva says MARLENE HAS BEEN
INVOLVED IN AN INITIATIVE
TO RAISE FUNDING FOR NATIVE
WOMEN'S HEALING LODGES,
WHICH WILL USE THE
TRADITIONAL HEALING WAYS.
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
RECENTLY APPROVED FUNDING
FOR SUCH A LODGE IN SUDBURY
THROUGH THE BRIGHTER
FUTURES PROGRAM.
BUT MARLENE REMEMBERS WHEN
HER OWN CAREER CHOICES
SEEMED MORE DIVERSIFIED.

Marlene says I DID, AT ONE
POINT, WANT TO BECOME A
POLITICIAN AND WORK
IN THEIR SYSTEM.
BUT THEN WHEN I REALLY HAD
THE OPPORTUNITY AND REALLY
HAD TO THINK ABOUT IT,
IT WAS, I CAME TO THE
CONCLUSION, NO.
AND THE REASONS WERE THAT IF
I WAS TO CONTINUE WORKING
THIS HARD, IT WAS GOING TO
BE FOR MY PEOPLE, ON MY
TERMS, ON MY SIDE
OF THE FENCE.
AND I LOOKED AT THE FACT I
COULDN'T SMOKE CIGARETTES
HARDLY ANYWHERE.
I'D BE IN THE
AIR ALL THE TIME.
I'D BE AWAY FROM MY FAMILY.
AND ABOVE ALL, I COULDN'T
WEAR BLUE JEANS IN THE
HOUSE OF COMMONS, SO I
DECIDED IT WASN'T THE PLACE
FOR ME.
I LIKED WHAT I WAS DOING.
I'M WORKING NOW WITH
THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT
AND PROBABLY WILL DO THAT
FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.
I HAD ONE POINT ENTERTAINED
THE IDEA OF BECOMING A
BUSINESS WOMAN.
I WANTED TO OPEN UP MY OWN
SHOP HERE IN THUNDER BAY,
BUT LIKE I SAID, I DON'T
THINK WE'RE ALWAYS MASTER
OF OUR DESTINIES.
THAT WE GO IN THE DIRECTION
THAT IS MADE FOR US.
AND HOW WELL WE WALK IN THIS
PATH, THE GOODNESS, THE
MEASUREMENT OF OUR WORK
HERE, ON THIS EARTH,
WILL DETERMINE WHAT KIND
OF... HOW WE COME BACK.
OF COURSE, WE BELIEVE
IN REINCARNATION.
WE DO BELIEVE
WE DO COME BACK.
AND OUR LESSON THAT I
UNDERSTAND IS THAT WHEN WE,
IN THE INDIAN WAY, THAT
WHEN WE COME BACK, THE
PERSON --IF WE COME BACK,
WE COME BACK A MUCH BETTER
PERSON, AND THE GOODNESS
YOU DO NOW HELPS THE NEXT
ONE THAT COMES.
SO THERE'S ALL KINDS OF
TEACHINGS THAT I'M JUST
BEGINNING TO HAVE
UNDERSTANDING OF BECAUSE
OF MY MATURITY.
I'M 49 NOW.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M GOING
TO BE DOING IN 20 YEARS.
HAVE NO IDEA.
BUT I'M ON MY PATH TO
LEARNING MY OWN WAYS.
A LOT, IT
WAS ALWAYS THERE.
IT WAS LIKE FOR MOST OF US
WHO ARE STRUGGLING TO FIND
THE ANSWERS, THE
FIRE WAS THERE.
IT NEEDED TO BE LIT, AND FED
FROM THE TEACHINGS THAT
WE GET FROM OUR PEOPLE.
AND I THINK I'M
GOING THAT WAY.
I HAVE A REAL STRONG AFFINITY
TO GET THAT KNOWLEDGE.
MAYBE ONE OF THESE DAYS,
I'LL BE THE WISE OLD WOMAN.
BEFORE I WAS BORN, I HAD MY
NAME, THEY KNEW WHAT IT WAS
GOING TO BE WHEN I WAS BORN.
AND IT'S THUNDER WOMAN.
AND IT'S CONNECTED
WITH THE THUNDERBIRDS.
AND WE ALL KNOW WHAT THE
THUNDER, THE NOISE THAT THE
THUNDER MAKES, THE HARSHNESS
OF THE THUNDER, AND THE
FRIGHTENING PART OF THE
THUNDER, BUT THE BEAUTIFUL
PART THAT COMES WITH THE
THUNDER, AND THAT'S THE
RAIN, AND WHAT IT DOES
TO FEED THE EARTH.
THAT'S HOW I CONNECT
SPIRITUALLY WITH MY
INDIAN NAME.

The screen shows a painting that portrays a group of Native Americans gathered around a flaming fire that gives birth to a bigger figure, dressed in traditional costumes and with both arms wide open.

Marlene continues
I BELIEVE THAT THAT HAS BEEN
MY KIND OF PATH IN LIFE...
TO GO AND MAKE ALL THE
NOISE, AND SOMETHING
BEAUTIFUL WILL COME
FROM IT FOR THE PEOPLE.

Eva says IF YOU WERE BASICALLY
DISENFRANCHISED AND SORT OF
THROWN OFF THE RESERVE, HOW
DID YOU RETAIN OR GAIN YOUR
CUSTOM, YOUR KNOWLEDGE
OF YOUR TRADITIONS?

Marlene says I SOMETIMES LOOK AT THE
RESERVE COMMUNITY AND
LOOK AT THEM AS COCOONS AND
HAVENS WHERE PEOPLE DON'T
HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.
BUT THE DAY THAT MY PARENTS
HAD TO MOVE OFF THE RESERVE
WITH OUR LARGE FAMILY, IT
WAS THEN AND THERE THAT THE
STRUGGLE, THE HARDER THE
STRUGGLE, I GUESS, THE
STRONGER THE SKIN.
AND THAT IS WHAT MADE, I
THINK, A LOT OF US WHO HAD
TO COME AND LIVE IN URBAN
COMMUNITIES, WE HAD TO FIGHT
HARDER, BASICALLY.
WE HAD TO FIGHT HARDER TO
MAINTAIN OUR IDENTITY.
WE HAD TO FIGHT HARDER TO
SURVIVE, TO EAT, TO HAVE
A ROOF OVER OUR HEAD.
A LOT OTHER SOCIAL ILLS
AFFECTED US MORE QUICKLIER.
SO IF YOU WERE ABLE TO
SURVIVE ALL OF THOSE
THINGS, I THINK, THAT IS
WHAT HAS MADE THE STRENGTH
FOR THE FOLKS LIKE MYSELF
AND THOSE THAT CAME AFTER.

(music plays)

The screen shows a close up to Marlene’s eyes in a black and white picture and replays the group of kids dancing to the traditional music.

The end credits roll.

Produced by Jim Hanley and Jim Hyder.

Directed by Dan Robinson

Executive for TVOntario, Marjorie Robinson.

Executive Producer, Jim Hanley.

A co-production of TVOntario and Sleeping Giant Productions.

The Ontario Educational Communications Authority. Copyright 1994.

Watch: Marlene Pierre