Band Manager; and Co-director of Dialect Revitalization
JoAnne believes we are at a critical time in the history of our people. Seeing our generation as the bridge-builder between the world of our ancestors and those of the seven generations to come, JoAnne advocates the urgency for our people to re-examine, reconstruct and re-imagine our world based on our traditional Nishnaabe methods and ways of being. Rather than adopting the colonizer’s values, approaches and systems, she feels we have the power and responsibility to create our own systems based on our original teachings.
JoAnne believes it is of absolute importance that we pause and truly examine where we came from, where we are, and where we are going as Biigtigong Nishnaabeg. Believing strongly in the necessity to bring forward into our consciousness questions around identity, Nishnaabe world view, values, principles, culture and language, she advocates for the assertion of self-determination by defining our own identity. Building our community by revitalizing our culture and language allows us to determine our path and ensure the continued existence and celebration of our way of life. We are challenged with the task of ensuring our Nation moves forward rooted in our culture, our traditions, and our language.
She believes we, as a Nation, cannot move forward without addressing the legacy of our colonial past and present. Experiencing the mental, emotional, and physical dysfunctions that have resulted from our diminished identity and the imposition of foreign systems upon us, JoAnne advocates for the reconnection to those things held sacred by our ancestors. She notes that the foreign governance systems imposed on First Nations are in direct contradiction with our values and ways of being. Strongly advocating for alignment of our cultural values with our contemporary systems and institutions, JoAnne believes self-determination and asserting sovereignty are our best responses to ensuring the continued life of our people.
For JoAnne, asserting sovereignty includes taking responsibility for our language. Our language revitalization efforts require a self-determining approach. Understanding the emergency state of our language, JoAnne is part of an effort aimed at revitalizing Biigtigong Nishnaabemwin. Time is of the essence. If action is not taken today, she believes our generation will be solely responsible for the death of our language and, with it, our true identity as Nishnaabeg.
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