The FNHA’s Office of the Chief Medical Officer received almost 100 touching entries telling us about the special First Nations mothers or mother figures in your lives, and it was very difficult to choose just five. We thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the wonderful First Nations women living in BC, and are very glad to know how loved and appreciated they are for their invaluable contributions to the lives of their families and communities.
And The Winners Are:
Jalissa Julian will receive a $100 gift card to treat her mother Tania Prince of Nak'azdli Whut'en First Nation to a Mother's Day meal on or around Mother's Day.
Carolyn Belleau will receive a $50 gift card to treat her mother Marilyn Belleau of Esk'etemc First Nation.
Dani Bilozaze-Lewis will receive a $50 gift card to treat her mother Danita Bilozaze, who is Dene Sųłiné from Cold Lake First Nations, living in the Comox Valley.
Brittany McKay will receive a $50 gift card to treat her mother Violet Dunn of Xaxli'p First Nation.
Maureen Tom will receive a $50 gift card to treat her mother Margaret Wagner of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.
Thank you to everyone who entered our contest, and congratulations to the winners!
First Nations matriarchs are keepers of culture and language, protectors of our lands and resources, experienced harvesters and hunters. This is why it's so important to honour the First Nations mothers or mother figures in BC and to celebrate their vital contributions to raising their families, being role models and leaders, and keeping communities strong and resilient.
At the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), we honour and respect First Nations women as Life Givers, knowledge keepers, and caretakers of life. We highlight the importance of women in First Nations cultures in our 2021 report Sacred and Strong – Upholding Our Matriarchal Roles.
Tania Prince – Nak'azdli Whut'en First Nation
My mother, Tania Prince, is truly the rock of our family. She does everything for everyone, and deserves the best! She has overcome so many obstacles in her lifetime and still gives and gives, with no expectation of anything in return. One of the biggest acts my mother did for me and my children was trail blazing a path for us to a better life. Together we went from suffering with the effects of intergenerational trauma in our community to moving away, where my mother would eventually begin her educational journey in Social Work (something she was truly meant to do). In 2020, she graduated with her Masters in Social Work. Today she does mental health supports for our community members. While she attained her education, she inspired me to do the same. I followed her in her footsteps and am beginning my Masters in Social Work this fall!
Not only is my mother smart, she is also so giving to everyone around her. She is always on the go, whether she's advocating for equality or lending a helping hand, she is always giving.
My mother has suffered tremendous loss in her life, losing her firstborn son when he was only three years old, and her 30-year-old son just a few years ago. It has not stopped her from conquering so much in life. She is the strongest, most resilient person I know and there just aren't enough words to explain how truly amazing she is! - submitted by Jalissa Julian
Marilyn Belleau – Esk'etemc First Nation
My mom, Marilyn Belleau from Esk'etemc First Nation, has been a huge inspiration in my life. Her strength and integrity means everything to me. She leads by example. She was diagnosed with breast cancer while attending university when my brothers and I were kids. She managed to raise us, go to university, and battle and beat breast cancer to remission. She is always going out of her way to help others through sewing, and supports our Esk'etemc community events in any way she can. She also walks every day for her health, determined to reach 10,000 steps no matter what the weather is. She is an amazing Mama Bear! – submitted by Carolyn Belleau
Dani Bilozaze-Lewis – Dene Sųłiné Living In The Comox Valley
I am a 17-year-old Dene Sųłiné youth who lives in the Comox Valley with my most favourite person in the world, my Ene, which means “Mom" in Dene. My Ene's name is Danita Bilozaze. I am so incredibly thrilled to be able to nominate my absolutely outstanding role model, my Ene, to be treated for an extra-special Mother's Day. For as long as I can remember it has been Mom and me, through the hardest moments and the most beautiful experiences. I am so grateful for this opportunity to celebrate and honour someone truly special to me. She raised me as a single parent and is not only my idol but my safe space. My Ene is so incredibly hard working and determined. She is a national-award-winning teacher who has her Masters in Language Revitalization and has created an extremely successful First Nations studies program. If my entry is chosen, I will take my Ene to our most favourite restaurant for breakfast (The Hen and the Hog), as well as her most favourite sushi restaurant (Sushi Jo). I would absolutely love to be able to spoil my mom on this very special day because she often focuses her time and generosity on her loved ones, forgetting to spoil herself. My Ene has positively impacted the lives of so many with her caring heart and outgoing personality and attitude. – submitted by Dani Bilozaze-Lewis
Violet Dunn – Xaxli'p First Nation
My mother, Violet Dunn of Xaxli'p First Nation, is an amazing lady. She is a residential school Survivor. She raised me, my three brothers, and many of my cousins. She did her best to provide for us and teach us to be respectful with good morals and work ethics. Growing up, we didn't have a lot of money, but she made sure we always had what we needed. In school, she always encouraged me to do my best and to strive for graduation and university. She worked hard and even though she was working, she continued her education and now has her Masters of Social Work. She is caring and loves her grandchildren and family. She cares about our community and it shows in her work; previously as Stopping the Violence and now as Health Manager. I can always go to her for sound advice or for encouragement. She has been through a lot in her life and the growth and healing I've witnessed her achieve is inspiring. – submitted by Brittany McKay
Margaret Wagner – Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation
Last year I almost lost my mom, Margaret Wagner, in a horrible boating accident. She was in the hospital for a couple of months, and our family was tested like never before. But it has definitely given us a much higher appreciation of life. My mom is still on a journey of healing, and every day she amazes me with every little bit of progress she makes 💜. My mom is a healer, a lover, a fighter, and a warrior! She's the big sister of her family, she's always been the one to step up for everyone, without question. So the days that we were hours away from home, with her in the hospital, we had a tremendous amount of support. Everyone made comments about how my mom helped them in their time of need and they were happy to return some of it back to her. She got the worst of that accident, but she was still asking about all the others in the accident. Sending us to go check on them, as they were all at the same hospital. My mom, barely able to even open her eyes, still caring for others. Making sure we fed everyone. She's everything I strive to be as a woman, as a mother, as a leader. A few times I had to remind her, she is not a burden to us [since the accident], we and everyone else in her life, are simply returning the endless amount of love and support as she's given our entire family. This Mother's Day, I plan on doing a special dinner with her 💜. – submitted by Maureen Tom