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To be Grand Chief

Sep 14, 2010

 

While many youth are still deciding what they want to be when they grow up, for a young Portage la Prairie woman the choice is easy.

 
Terri-Lynne Myran has her eye on the top job in the governance of her people as the Grand Chief in the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and don't let anyone tell her she can't do it.
"My sister, she will always joke around (saying), 'Don't tell me, show me.' It really pushes you to do something," said Myran.
 
At the age of eight, Myran wanted to be chief of Long Plain First Nation, so it was a natural progression for her to now aspire to become a grand chief in the province.
 
The 18-year-old Long Plain band member will be returning to second year of an undergraduate program in Aboriginal Governance at University of Winnipeg this month. She later plans to complete a master's degree and eventually obtain a doctorate.
 
Myran, who graduated from Portage Collegiate Institute, became interested in politics while taking part in the First Nations Leadership group of First Nations Student Council at school, in a program that has been running since 2008.
She said one day with the group she helped plan a lunch-time event at PCI offering Indian Tacos and a screening of the movie Dances With Wolves to introduce students to aboriginal culture. Through her involvement with the group, Myran also tried to develop more tolerance among youth and to stamp out racism and negative stereotyping.
 
"There was quite a bit of racism when I was a student at PCI and I felt it needed to be addressed more," said Myran. "I felt there was also a problem with stereotyping, with not just our people, but everyone else as well ... It was separating so many people."
 
Since then, Myran has continued to learn more about her own culture and gain empowerment as a result.
 
She has learned some Ojibway language, how aboriginal governance works and the history of aboriginal people in Canada.
 
The young woman also works as a dietary aide with the Regional Health Authority — Central Manitoba Inc. after completing the Aboriginal High School Internship Program at PCI previously.
 
She said offering this type of experience to young aboriginal people is positive in giving the community more choices.
 
And as a woman having her eye on the brass ring doesn't seem daunting. After all, Myran said through learning about aboriginal history she discovered aboriginal society was originally matriarchal in nature and only became patriarchal after the influence of the European settlers.
 
"Aboriginal settlements were run by women," added Myran. "Women made decisions on war, on food, on everything, until European settlers came. I learned that in native history at PCI, in aboriginal arts and culture at PCI, and also my aboriginal introductory course at U of W."
 
The young woman said she wants a wide range of political experience and believes becoming grand chief would be a dream for her.
 
"That would be a life goal," said the youth. "That would be so fulfilling for me, to be looked up to and to represent the aboriginal people of Canada."
 
U of W Aboriginal Governance program director Dr. Julie Pelletier said the U of W offers an undergraduate and graduate program in Aboriginal Governance to prepare students for various roles in government.
 
"Some of them do have aspirations for that kind of specific leadership, where they aspire to possibly be in some kind of elected position in tribal community — whether it is chief or something else," she said. "We are looking at leadership and governance in a broad sense."
 
Grand Chief Ron Evans of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, is thrilled to hear of young people wanting to take on responsibility and roles of leadership in aboriginal government.
 
Evans himself was chief of Norway House Cree Nation in 1996 and was first elected  grand chief in 2005. He said a good way for youth to prepare for roles in government is to get out there and be active in their community.
 
"It can be as small as helping kids in recreation in activities; it can be helping getting involved and volunteering your time in activities," said Evans."There are lots of places one can volunteer." 
 
Terri-Lynne's mom Lisa Myran said Terri-Lynne and her younger daughter Jocelyn are both individuals with strong motivation.
 
Lisa herself has proven to be a good example, and while she had her family at a young age she later returned to school to finish her education. This past June she graduated from University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and now works as a finance administrator for Long Plain.
 
"It's pretty awesome," she said of Terri-Lynne's plans. "I would be proud if she ever made it up that far to begin with."
 
For the young woman, seeing her mother graduate this summer is what really inspired her to pursue her dreams to seek political office.
 
She became emotional when she described her pride, saying her mother is her role model.
 
"It was from her own determination, her own will," said Terri-Lynne.
 
"She easily could have given up like a lot of other people have, but she chose to keep going."
 
Article ID# 2742908

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Thanks also to the Government of Canada (Status of Women & Canadian Heritage) for their financial support.