My name is Debby Danard Wilson; I am Anishinaabekwe Ojibway, sturgeon clan from Manitou Rapids, Rainy River First Nations in Northwestern Ontario. Currently a Ph.D student (B.A. B.Ed., M.Ed) at OISE/U of T specializing in Aboriginal & Indigenous studies in education.
As an artist and academic, my work is about taking risks to rethink what we have been taught by dominant society. Not to reject or deny, but to reclaim and create new categories and definitions of ourselves, for ourselves as Aboriginal peoples. There is so much beauty being an Aboriginal person that’s not reflected back through dominant society’s attitudes and beliefs
Real power comes from developing yourself in balance with the outside, while maintaining your strength of spirit and reflecting that back into our everyday life.
I strive to walk a path of traditional teachings and way of life sharing my experiences whether as a mother, a student, a traditional person, an artist or a teacher. I will continue to challenge and reclaim through my art, teaching and research work, and hope that my choices will transform dominant theories and practices that continue to deny the legitimacy of Aboriginal thought and worldview.
MEDIA ARTS TRAINING
The image I choose was one of my Grandmother, Annie Wilson, Bebaamichiwebiik 1925-2013.
The reason I chose to honour her as part of this mosaic, is she demonstrated unconditional love and commitment to her community and especially the women with whom she worked. She actively participated to ensure 'women's work' such as beading, hunting and gathering, cultural parenting and traditional practices were shared with all those who sought to learn.
She was the strongest woman and role model in my life. In the early years, she followed closely her grandmother and mother's teachings and lived her life with kindness, despite residential school trauma, and despite her own life challenges which included domestic violence and trauma. She came full circle and was committed to ensuring that women (from birth to end of life) were recognized and included in any and all of the work she did in the community.
By sharing my experiences and Anishinaabe teachings for the past six years with the Women's Human Rights Institute, specifically CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women) has given me the opportunity to meet women from all over the world who stand up through activism against discrimination. Through ceremony with the water, participants have an opportunity to see the strength within themselves and connect spirit to original woman, Mother Earth.
It was my grandmother's love and encouragement to stand up and share the Anishinaabe teachings which helps me to continue the work she began and taught me to live in that good way as Anishinaabequay (Anishinaabe woman).
Meegwetch for listening and giving me the opportunity to share a little of my story.