“At age five, my life changed forever. My mother dropped me off at school run by the Oblate Catholic Church. I returned home ten months later. I’d been removed from a very happy, nurturing environment. What I had entered was cold, uncaring, sterile and extremely regimented."

Years later, Mary began questioning her lifestyle at the time aboriginal people were experiencing a spiritual awakening. “What went on in the residential schools started coming out. Traditional activities — powwows, pipe and fasting ceremonies — were happening throughout the province.”

“Because of immersion in mainstream society, I broke my connection with my heritage. I am proud of my indigenous blood; I have a Christian upbringing that is equally important. I’d like my grandchildren to know and be proud of their heritage. Their ancestors lived in this great land and helped shape this country.”

Mary retired from an extensive career in education. As an Elder, she continues to share traditional teachings and provides professional development from an aboriginal perspective.

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Mary Courchene
Sakgeeng First Nation
Image size: 10 x 13 inches
Edition size: 175