Myra Michano

Myra Michano (Present-day Speaker of Biigtigong Nishnaabemwin)

Myra attributes her fluency in and appreciation for our Nishnaabe language to the love of her father Lawrence Desmoulin. After returning from Residential School, he took action to counteract the efforts of this experience and made it his priority to ensure his daughter remained connected to her Nishnaabe ways and specifically her language. In his wisdom, Lawrence continued to make language a priority and raised a bilingual daughter, who was grounded in and experienced the world through the lens of Nishnaabemwin. Myra understands what she could have lost as a result of the external efforts to remove her language and traditional ways from her being. She always expresses a deep love and respect for her dad and his decision to insist she think, speak, and behave as a Biigtigong Nishnaabe-kwe.

Myra has always advocated the importance of our Biigtigong dialect of Nishnaabemwin. She strongly asserts that the language we should speak here in Biigtigong should come from Biigtigong, from the land that sustains our life, from the collective memory and experiences that derive from our land and in honour of those who overcame the direct attacks on our ways.

Myra appreciates the sacredness of Biigtigong Nishnaabemwin, as she and her dad journeyed together in keeping the language alive and her spirit filled with the beauty of our Nishnaabe worldview. Myra spent many years and countless hours trying to carry on the decision of her dad. As a teacher of our language, Myra in her very unique ways, which were filled with humour and love, set out to carry on her dad’s legacy.

Myra and her great love, Eli Michano, raised their nine children and fostered a strong sense of family and community within each of them. Together, they showered their grandchildren and great-grandchildren with unconditional love and provided the foundations for them to experience mno-bmaadziwin. Eli and Myra capture the essence of our Nishnaabe humour; a gift they so graciously shared with their family and community.

Myra constantly reminds us that we are Nishnaabeg and not “Ojibways,” or “Indians,” or “Aboriginal,” or “Native.” In acknowledging we are Nishnaabeg and that we are from Biigtigong, we will walk this world connected and have a strong identity as individuals, as families, and as a community and a Nation. Myra and Lawrence fought the efforts of external forces to remove Nishnaabemwin from our world. They went up against powerful forces and were able to hold on to the essence of our Nishnaabe being. They fought to help keep Biigtigong Nishnaabemwin alive for us. We now hold this responsibility. What will we do with this responsibility?