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Eugene Blackbird (West)

Those meeting Eugene for the first time can be overwhelmed with his sincerity; he personifies the notion of someone who cares for himself and his people. His core values of sincerity, kindness and family values are obvious. He is a gentle man who does ‘walk the talk.’ Eugene is from Keeseekoowenin Ojibway Nation and resides in Elphinstone. He knew at an early age that he would be working with his hands developing skills necessary to be successful in life. He has impacted many people in a positive way because of this talent. His commitment to traditional art forms of the Anishinabe people would help him in how he lives his life today.

Eugene has travelled across Canada and to Europe to share these art forms. He is also known for the leadership role he has shown at various workshops in relation to our behaviors and our potential to go forward and live a healthier lifestyle and become a healthier person; maximizing our potentials.n working with people and sharing his life journey with people of all races, he has been able to overcome personal obstacles and keep his journey alive. Eugene loves to dance powwow and enjoys meeting people, and most of all joking around, with everyone! We need to have fun; we need to enjoy ourselves in a positive way with our families and communities.

Eugene, like many of our people who are effective dealing with people, enjoys the opportunities to help young and old alike. He has an affinity towards young people who are our future. He recognizes that we have many challenges in life and we need to overcome these challenges regardless if there is shame involved. He also believes that we have two elements in life that we need to embrace. The first one is the idea of knowing and the second is the understanding that follows. He states that “everyone has the right to heal and everyone needs to take that step forward and release the pain”.

Finally, his undaunting belief in the family as a unit is critical to our people. He promotes that “families need to be together” and “they need to grow together and get strength from each other”. “Family values and behaviour” are so important. Another value that Eugene talks passionately about is the idea that the “we need to love our families”. After listening to Eugene one comes away with a renewed and optimistic approach to living.

The core values that Eugene and all Elders in our community hold must be talked about and experienced by our young people. We have a responsibility to carry on our traditions regarding these values.

There was a time when we did not have “confidentiality” that we have today; he disagrees with this idea because there was a time when “the community knew of everyone’s problems so that everyone could help out”. This is what the healing process is all about.

“I care about people” and “there is a time for learning and some people don’t want to learn”. “We must talk about family violence to get over it and deal with it.”

“We are going in the right direction, but how do we get all the people to follow that direction.” This is a challenge for us all; leadership, community workers, our families.

Henry is very pleased that our people are beginning to use our history, our traditional ways and teachings. He sees this as a very positive move and has a vision that it will continue in our communities and in our homes.