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Melina's Interview Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Canada Feb 5, 2004
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Melina's Interview 1) What is your full name?

Melina Mewapun Laboucan-Massimo

2) What is the name of the people that you are from? Where were you born and when?

I am Cree from the Lubicon Lake Band and I was born in Peace River, Alberta in 1981.

3) What are your interests? What are your goals for the future?

I like to travel and meet new people. I enjoy reading and watching movies especially if they have interesting social commentary. I also like to be active - I love to dance, play soccer and go jogging. Learning, whether doing it formally or informally, is something I very much value. If it were possible, I would love to do new and different things everyday and I want that to be a defining factor in the remainder of my life.

My hopes and goals for the future include pursuing my Masters Degree in Environment and Community Development Studies. As well, I want to be able to make a positive contribution to the Aboriginal community in Canada and build and foster solidarity among one another, including both local Indigenous other Indigenous peoples around the world. I hope to extend my support and help to others who are dealing with human rights violations in other countries. As well, I really feel the need to be a part of the struggle against the way the world is being desecrated for the pursuit of profit. The natural balance of our environment is seriously in threat. These reasons are why I hope to always work with a non-profit organization.

4) What do you want the world to know about you and your people?

I want the world to know and realize that we are not relics from the past but living breathing human beings who are dealing with very real issues. A lot of these issues are intertwined now with global issues due to the effects of globalization and colonization. This list includes environmental issues which are linked to land claims, poverty, education, loss of culture & language, self determination, and discrimination due to a lack of understanding by dominants cultures and mainstream societies.

One thing I would really like the world, and my own country, to know is the history of the past 500 years and what really took place. Many Canadians do not learn about the various methods used by the Canadian government in attempts of purify or “whiten” and Christianize its population through methods of genocide followed by systematic discrimination and assimilation policies. One such case is that of Residential schools which is usually excluded from the primary and secondary educational system. The Canadian population does not learn how Native children were basically kidnapped from their parents and forced to live in sometimes horrendous boarding schools until the age of 18. They were not allowed to leave and if they did escape to try to return to their families and communities, government agents would be sent out after them to ensure their prompt return to those undesirable locations. Upon recapture they would be severely punished.

In these residential schools, children were made to feel ashamed of their culture, beliefs and traditions, and if the priests or nuns heard them speaking their Native tongues, they would be beaten. Many experienced abuse ranging from physical, verbal, emotional to even sexual. This was an attempt of the government and the Church to “civilize” and assimilate the Aboriginal population but instead all it achieved was to make these children into lost, disillusioned and hurting people. When these children finally turned 18, they would be released into a world they no longer knew. They still did not belong in the white dominant society as racism and discrimination against Native people was still a blatant and rampant occurrence and they no longer could identify with the people in the communities due to the long term estrangement. If you consider this and the way communities were deliberately broken down, one may finally understand why Aboriginal communities are what they have become. They are a people who have been abused in every meaning of the word, but yet society still has the audacity to ask, “what is wrong with those people, why are they like the way they are?” A look past the superficial textbook knowledge would reveal a much darker and hidden history which would explain away any such judgments.

5) Are there certain aspects of your culture that help shape your identity? Can you describe them?

One cultural aspect of Cree people is to listen first and then speak if necessary. This is contrary to the North America cultural norm of making sure you are heard first and to make it loud and clear. This is why in a bigger crowd I am quiet and speak only when I feel something needs to be said. On the other hand, when I feel down and discouraged I look to the resilient and persevering spirit of my people and know I can’t give up. For a long time I too learned and internalized feelings of shame in regards to my culture because of how it was looked down upon in my society. I can still remember kids in school saying rude comments about Aboriginal people. Only as I began to mature I realize how much a part of me my culture was and how much it meant to me. The traditional songs speak to me and calm my spirit beyond the point of explanation. That is why I am now taking drumming lessons to retain this, so I can practice this and pass it on to next generations. Just now am I starting to realize the deep connections human beings have with Mother Earth and all she offers us. It deeply saddens me to see the destruction of our planet and people’s lack of disregard for our home.

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Melina Laboucan-Massimo

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Brave! Huh?
glemon | Apr 26th, 2004
I share your brave heart. But I have a problem. Do you not think your community needs to generate profit to advance its development plans? And if your community's project is profit oriented, would you not be part of it? These notwithsanding, your comments speakes good to many souls. Courage! =Ndee: glemon79@yahoo.com

Hola Meli!
Damian Profeta | Feb 6th, 2004
Palabras claras, interesantes y por sobre todo profundas y sinceras. No conoc

Hi Melina
Noelia | Feb 9th, 2004
Your interview was truly inspirational and touching. It's refreshing to read that you are so proud of your heritage and that you are doing your part to educate about very real and present social issues that most people are either unaware of or do not take out the time to think about. Education is the key to ending discrimination and racism that very often arise from ignorance. Great job and good luck with your future endeavours, maybe someday we will be able to work on a similar project together! Luv, Noelia

ihedioha godwin | Feb 10th, 2004

ihedioha godwin | Feb 10th, 2004

samson mighty kwamina apaah | Feb 17th, 2004
Please i want work to do in your area.

Well Said!
Udara Soysa | Feb 23rd, 2004
Its your global gallery friend Udara from Sri lanka. I am proud to have a friend like who support cultural diverisy but still remebering the identity as well. cheers pal! Udara

Appreciate your interview
Charity Fadun | Mar 14th, 2004
I really appreciate your interview. You're right. Until I took Native Studies in University I had no idea of the genocide that took place in our country. It's embarrasing and I feel ashamed of our country and the leaders of that time that let that happen.

Hi Melina
Kumar Kadel | Apr 21st, 2004
Your interview is really inspirational and heart touching. It's refreshing to read that you are so proud of your heritage . Education is the key to ending discrimination and racism that very often arise from ignorance. Good luck with your future endeavours, maybe someday we will be able to work on a similar project together. Thanks Regards Kumar Kadel Kathmandu, Nepal sanjeev_kadel@hotmail.com

Keep going Melina!
caesar | May 19th, 2004
This is soul-shaking Melina;heart-gripping;Tough-talking at the same-time.There are many forms genocide can be effected,leave alone the Rwanda Genocide where people were hacked with machetes and spears etc.this form of oppression is simply mutating from the barbaric style to perhaps the modern trends.am glad you've taken the initiaitive on the aboriginal community.I'm sure this is going to make a difference and leave a mark!Go Girl! Thumbs up!Do your Thing!!

Sushil Sakhuja | May 14th, 2004
hello!!Its your global gallery friend sushil from india.ur interview is really inspirational and heart touching.I am proud to have a friend like who support cultural diverisy .WISH YOU CAN TALK TO ME THROUGH THIS YAHOO ID : sakhuja_sushil@yahoo.com

Melina Angel
Femi Ajayi | Jan 31st, 2005
I comming here for the first time after sending you loadsa TIG messages...I never knew you are this amazing. If i could give you a name, I'll name you like a deity from another time and age...cause u got me enthralled. I see you as a gift to life from God, and a blessing to Humanity from your Parents. Please keep the flame burning brighter and the flag flying higher. Should you be wanderin who this?...It's a friend from the TIG gallery. Olufemi Ben Ajayi dukefemie@yahoo.com +2348036691992

Hi Melina
Lokwa | Feb 27th, 2005
Your Interview is very excllent and Hope that it's reality of your vision. Narcisse Lokwa Mbunzama

Hola melina!
FReddy W. | Apr 21st, 2005
hello de nuevo! pienso en la realizacion del bien comun en la sociedad, creer enla mundializacion en un mundo pero con personas adentro, no como la globalizacion donde somos parte de algo y solo consumidores, el desarrollo sustetable de nuestas comunidades indigenas, escribe fre_ddy@gmx.net

Esnaen M. Catong | Sep 20th, 2005
I suggest that you document your peoples' experiences. That would be your greatest contribution not only to your people but also to the body of knowledge. The youth of today must learn from history so that those horrendous acts or ommissions against your society should not happen in any part of the world.

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