(ANNews) – An Indigenous lady and her 2 daughters, along with her husband and son have become an inspiration to their communities in Southern Alberta with their unique take on the world, Indigenous culture and understanding of Mother Earth.
Many generations learn from one another, teach each other and learn from others in the community, especially the Elders, explained Indigenous author Judy Everson. Such has been the case for her and her two strong daughters, as well as her husband and son as they reclaim their Ojibwe Cree culture and heritage taken many years ago from past generations’ trauma on their Journeys.
“The three of us set on a path of learning, alongside my husband Terry and son Nick,” noted Everson. “We all took a program called Braiding the Sweetgrass that changed our lives forever. We learned more about our Indigenous culture with the Elders’ knowledge and many teachings which included sweat lodges and regular gatherings.
“I’ve said before that you don’t have to be blood related to love and honour the Elders and consider people you meet as family. We can build a community by working together for a better life for our future children and their children.”
Terry and Judy are the proud parents of three children who they have helped over the years to embrace their culture. “It’s been on behalf of our loved ones and others who didn’t get a chance to embrace their own cultures due to the residential schools and day schools they had no choice to attend. They were taken far too soon from their loved ones, parents and Elders – not to better them, but to take away the only way of life they knew, as they all lived on our sacred lands together as a family and community.”
The Everson family finds ways to give back to their communities and Indigenous culture through powwows, volunteering, standing with MMIWG walks, and participating with other charities such as Southern Alberta Kidney Foundation and Alberta Children’s hospital. “All three of us ladies do our best to help when we can,” said Judy, “and our guys do the best they can do, too.”
Elle Everson is currently, Miss Teen Southern Alberta 2019. “To our knowledge she is the first Indigenous young lady to hold that title,” remarked Judy.
“Elle has opened new doors, new opportunities for future young ladies and has inspired many hopeful girls to work hard for what they want and one day they will achieve their dreams and hopes to make it reality. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from as long as you’re willing to do the hard work as best you can, and you will achieve your goals.”
Elle has inspired even her little sister McKenzie to try this year’s 2020 Miss Preteen pageant to join their pageant sisterhood.
Elle has been involved with her Indigenous culture and has a goal to dance the traditional Jingle dance at the powwows to honour her passed generations who couldn’t dance nor sing nor even story tell.
“In the fall, for years now Elle volunteers with the Connect Event with our Elders and Youth with her brother Nick. They both volunteered at this year’s First Enhance Parallel Learning, Elder and youth conference where they spoke about their positive experiences with Elders. The special time they had with the Elders has been such a precious gift and they hold their teachings close to their hearts.”
“To have that connection goes beyond what we could ever imagine because they lost most of their grandparents,” said Judy, “though they do have their Kookum, grandma in Ontario to be grateful for and keep their other nookomis, grandma and gimishoomis, grandpa (in Ojibwe language) in their memories close to their hearts.”
In the summer during the Calgary Stampede, Elle works in the Elbow River Camp and enjoys her time with the Elders and fellow Indigenous people. She loves artwork, which she sells to gain money to give to her charities and attends cosmetology, which she is working towards for her future career Journeys.
McKenzie has been inspired by her older sister to join the 2020 Miss Preteen pageant. She has been making bracelets and art pieces to sell for her charity, the Alberta children’s hospital.
According to Judy, “Mackenzie likes what her sister was doing not because of the fancy dresses nor acknowledgement, but meeting the people, the fun she had and the many opportunities and places she’s been.
Terry and Nick attend their men’s gathering and “are still learning many aspects of our cultural teachings and knowledge,” added Judy. “I attend their women’s gathering which gives me such a feeling of belonging and it’s been a good journey for me.
“Terry and I have been together for many years as we are elementary school sweethearts, which feels like just the beginning of each journey we take with our children.”
Judy has been writing for many years and has published a book on Amazon called “Chippy’s Adventures the Curious Little Squirrel.”
“I love to write,” she said, “as storytelling was our way to reconnect with our culture and how we would pass the stories down from generation to generation to keep our family history alive.”
She is currently in the process of publishing her Indigenous stories and it gives her great pleasure and pride to pass this tradition on to Elle, McKenzie and Nick, as well as many others.
“Into the future we look, though we acknowledge our past as we move towards the next journeys and walk together on the path set to come,” concluded Judy.
“We remember, we respect, hand and hand we walk together as every journey has a story to be told. This is part of our story and we can’t wait for many more adventures and journeys.”