Jeff Green | Jul 16, 2009
Back to HomeFeature Article - July 16, 2009 Indigenous grandmothers walk for changeBy Julie Druker
Grandmothers walk to Ottawa: Marlene J Carriere, Norma Geauvreau and Bonnie Misquaddis
“You wait and see what I can do” were the final words spoken to a Manitoba court judge back in 2006 by Cree grandmother Marlene J. Carriere, who took it upon herself to change the rights of indigenous grandparents in that province.
In July 2006 after failing to secure custodial rights to her grandchildren, Marlene took to the Manitoba pavement in July of 2006 and successfully completed the Indigenous Grandparents’ Rights Walk, a 12-day trek from Cranberry Portage to Winnipeg. Her words to that judge proved true and in November 2006 the Grandparents’ Rights Bill was passed in Manitoba and she regained custody of her grandchildren.
Not satisfied with that accomplishment Marlene has taken the issue up again in Ontario with her second Indigenous Grandparents Rights Walk.
Through the walk she is hoping to do several things: change current policies and laws in The Child and Family Act, and the Children’s Act to include indigenous grandparents’ rights; create a greater understanding of the unique differences regarding indigenous grandparents through their history, culture, languages and traditions; promote awareness about building stronger families and to review the current outstanding Grandparents’ Rights bills that have yet to be passed in Ontario.
Marlene, along with great grandmother Norma Geauvreau of Sudbury and grandmother Bonnie Misquaddis of Kitchener, passed through Sharbot Lake on July 12 on their walk, which began on July 4 in Kitchener and will take them to Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
I came across the three just east of Flinton on Highway 7 nearing the end of their ninth day on the road and had a chance to speak with them.
Marlene came to Kitchener from Manitoba to pursue a master’s degree in indigenous social work and decided to undertake her walk in this province.
She explained, “While doing research for my program I found out that Ontario has the largest of the grandparents’ organizations and yet the grandparents’ bill has not yet been passed here.”
The three “kookum“ (the Cree word for grandmother) were expecting to reach Ottawa sometime on Wednesday July 15 and intended to bring their issues to the attention of various MPs.
The Indigenous Grandparents’ Rights Walk is working in partnership with “Healing of the Seven Generations“, a non-profit agency whose mandate is to improve the wellness of aboriginal people.