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Aanii bozhoo,

I am a registered and claimed member of the Metis Nation of Ontario (www.metisnation.org), the federally and provincially recognized representative government for our community. Specifically, I am from the Historic Métis Community of Sault Ste. Marie. Many of my family are also registered and claimed members. The family names in which hold my Metis ancestry are Pilon, Beaudry, Tranche, and Couturier.

 

My grandpa was Wilbert Couturier, born in May of 1939 to Ida and Douglas Couturier. My entire life my grandparents lived up the road from and I saw them almost every day until my grandpa passed in 2005, and spoke to my grandma weekly until her passing in 2024. They were my best friends and both of their influences shine through in my work. He taught me many things about our history, our culture, and our future. My grandma (settler) taught me about magic, faeries, and dragons.

During my grandpa's childhood, him and his siblings were shamed for their identity. We have many stories of how this trauma impacted him and how it has impacted our family. Although my grandfather was not a residential school survivor, many of his cousins were - and violence, addiction, and trauma have run throughout my family. The last living fluent speaker of Anishinaabemowin was my great grandfather, Douglas. My grandpa didn't speak of him much, but I knew of him through stories to be an unkind and deeply hurt person.

 

Douglas Couturier was born to Marie Pilon. My grandfather was close to his grandmother when he was a child and told stories of her kindness. She is the only person documented to be born in a canoe and spent many hours, days, and weeks on canoe voyages with her father who was the manager of the HBC post at Lac La Cloche. My family line includes the territories of Fort William (Thunder Bay), Shebononing, and Sault Ste. Marie, and my ancestors Metwaikemekenang and Marie Pilon both received treaty annuities through the Tahgaiwenene Band (now Wahnapitae First Nation).

I grew up with many stories of our families connection to the fur trade, our days of trapping, and it is from these stories that my love for dogsledding was born. I also grew up with a mixed family, many of my cousins are First Nations on one side and Metis on the other, and being that I had a big family with lots of cousins who spent time living with me or living with my grandparents, we spent a lot of time together and a lot of my inspiration, stories, and identity comes from being a blended family of blended backgrounds - as well as wanting to write stories that center my nieces and nephews.

After my grandfather died I found many ways to connect with culture and honor his memory. My grandpa didn't live long enough to become proud of who he was, but I will be forever proud of him. I did my degree in Indigenous studies as it offered me a way to both learn about my history but also help me advance my education and help make change for Indigenous communities. I’ve spent the last 10+ years working and living in Indigenous communities and supporting the next generation (minus the two years I did in England to connect with my other roots!). Our identity does not only come from what our blood is, but it also comes from the people we meet, the places we live, and what we see and experience. So many of my stories are written for the youth I meet and the communities I am a part of; and so a lot of my writing is a blend of my own culture and theirs. I am very blessed to have a network of incredible Indigenous folks who help to review and guide my stories as they take on this blend of cultures. I am beyond thankful to them. I am also beyond thankful to have been a part of multiple Indigenous communities as I took on a nomadic lifestyle. All of the people I have met have worked to shape my identity and have inspired so much of my advocacy. 

Although much of my life is spent connecting with my mom's side of my ancestry, I am also settler/British on my dads. This side of my ancestry is important to me, and I spent two years in England learning more about where I come from and who I am. Being mixed is not something I'm ashamed of, and I am greatly aware of the white privilege that I carry. It is because of this privilege that I know I have a responsibility to use it to amplify Indigenous folks and to use my talent as a writer to advance truth and reconciliation and highlight issues that are impacting not only my own community but many communities across Turtle Island.

I am a storyteller. I am not a politician, elected official, nor do I speak on behalf of anyone other than myself. I try to make space for experts in their fields to speak and spend a lot of time critically thinking about my role and if I am the best fit before I take on any work or speaking engagements. I try my best to support and amplify other Indigenous folks, especially youth, as well as put funds back into community and the Indigenous economy. I am very opinionated and will advocate for the Indigenous causes that I am passionate about; but I do not claim to be an expert nor am I beyond making mistakes. I do the best I can to create a better future for Indigenous kids, that is always my goal.

Conversations around identity and who I am are always welcome and I can always be reached via the contact me page.

My grandpa and me

My first sled dog, Storm

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Running dogs outside Yellowknife, NT

My grandpa and grandma

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Running dogs in the NT

My grandpa

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