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Irene Young (North)

Anyone who meets Irene for the first time can see the aura of peace that shines from her; she is such a positive person. After speaking with her one would get a sense that she cares about people; young and old alike.

For those who know Irene, this is already common knowledge as her reputation precedes her pleasant, friendly and caring personality.

Like many of our people she has core values that she lives by and is a testimony to her reputation with us all. She is so comforting that she draws people for a variety of reasons; insights, wisdom, understanding, advice or just someone who will listen.

Irene is from Opaskwayak Cree Nation and she speaks with conviction about her loyalties and commitment to her home community. She has 5 of her own children and is a grandmother to 18. She is a residential school survivor and was an Elder for the University and the Community College in Brandon. She currently works as a Community Justice Worker.

It is not surprising to hear her talk about the need for our people to ‘respect ourselves’ first and if we respect ourselves we ‘will respect others around you.’Her message is reinforced by her lifestyle.

Her belief that ‘anybody can change if they allow it’ and want it bad enough is refreshing to hear. These are not just words; these are messages that are laced with an absolute commitment to our people.

She believes we need hope. If we have hope we can move forward because with hope comes courage. She knows we all need courage and asks us to look within ourselves for the bright things, not the negative things we have in our lives. For young and old alike, the beliefs of Irene must be interpreted as a message of hope and a renewed spirit to ‘move ahead’ and be respectful to ourselves and others.