Who Am I?
Tansi, my name is Taryn Hamilton, I’m a student, a social innovator and I’m half Cree and half European descent (French, Irish, Scandinavian, and Scottish). I’m the youngest of four siblings and I’m an auntie to two beautiful girls. I am part of the Barren Lands First Nation which is signatory to Treaty 10 region signed in 1906. The Barren Lands First Nation is situated on the northern shore of Reindeer Lake in Manitoba, and my dad is from Pembroke, Ontario which is in Renfrew County. I’m a third year student in the Bachelor of Arts- Criminal Justice program at Mount Royal University. This past year I began my journey as a social innovator while working on the Elder In The Making project. This project aimed to work towards reconciliation in the Alberta school curriculum by introducing Indigenous history and ways of knowing into the school curricula. It was during this journey where I found my passion for social innovation in particular, social innovation that aims to work towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. This line of work is particularly important to me, as I’m given the opportunity to learn more about my own culture and other Indigenous Nations in Canada. My mother wasn't able to learn or was not taught her traditional Cree culture and heritage, partly due to colonization and the loss of culture due to such policies like the Indian Act, 1876. My grandfather was a hunter and trapper who traded with the Hudson's Bay Company in the area of Northern Manitoba, an area that was colonized long before my mother or grandfather were born. I asked my mom why she didn’t know much about traditional Cree culture or cultural practices and she told me that when she was younger, that she was scared to learn her culture and that she was told it was like witchcraft. The view my mom has on her own culture is a direct repercussion of colonization. I’m so passionate about the work that I am involved in because I get the opportunity to learn and share my knowledge with my family and other Canadians, I’m a part of the reconciliation movement in Canada which gives me a sense of pride, and I’m learning to appreciate and respect my own culture- more than I already have.