UNITY Alumni Spotlight: Colleen Medicine
Meet UNITY Alumni, Waabshkaa Asinikwe – Colleen Medicine, she is of The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, from Bahweting (place of the rapids) also known as Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Colleen took part in UNITY conferences in Phoenix 2004, Buffalo 2005, Oklahoma City 2007 and Reno 2008, with her Tribal Youth Council, the Waaniiniigaanzijig (those who will lead).
Q: Why did you get involved with your youth council? A: I was super passionate at a young age about Anishinaabe lifeways and I wanted to help lead our Native Youth. I also wanted to learn as much as I could about our ways of life and tribal youth council allowed me to learn and grow as a young Anishinaabe Kwe.
Q: You’re a new addition to the crayon box, what color and why?
A: Passionate Carmine. I’m a very passionate person in all that I do but I also feel things much deeper than others and have a dominant personality that tells me that maybe I’d be some sort of shade of red with a hint of purple so carmine it is!
Q: What was the last gift you gave someone?
A: A braid of sweetgrass to an old friend…someone I love very much!
Q: Where do you work and what do you do?
A: I work for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians as the Director of Language & Culture. However, I really feel like I work on behalf of the people and I move through my day-to-day work always believing that I am working to serve the people.
Q: Tell me something about your job, that inspires you to keep working there?
A: I have witnessed incredible moments in this position. I have heard young children speak our language, I have watched ceremony bring people together, I have watched ceremony help heal the hearts of those hurting. I have watched first time dancers get the confidence to step into our circle. I have watched elders smile when they were honored. I have watched our elders cry out of pride for the people. I have watched our way of life do so much good for our people. That is what inspires me to keep working in this position and on behalf of the people.
Q: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
A: Life has a funny way of humbling me quite often. I have developed a good sense of humor.
Q: If you could be any animal in the world, what animal and why?
A: Turtle-mostly because it’s my clan
Q: Pretend you’re an age between 14-24, what three concerns about Native youth keep you up at night?
A: -Why our history isn’t being told in a truthful and honest way in our school systems
-Being accepted, I’ve always been too light skinned to be considered Native and too dark skinned to be Caucasian. This was huge for me growing up and had a large impact on who I am today.
-Living in two worlds-Anishinaabe world and mainstream. Walking in two worlds is hard to do but necessary for our people and is complicated when you are younger.
Q: What inspires you?
A: For me this question is really WHO inspires me. I have the most amazing 4 year old Niece, Giizhigong Biiwasiayak (Bright Sky). She is this incredibly fierce Anishinaabe Kwezhens and she inspires me to do better and to keep going.
Q: Think about the greatest challenged you have faced, what is the best advice you received?
A: “All you need to get through life is a good heart and a good pair of shoes”
Q: What are you known for?
A: Hard working and driven
Q: What do you work toward in your free time?
A: I read a lot and like to spend time outside with creation. I try to educate myself and help to restore balance within myself by spending time with creation.
Q: What’s something that will always be in fashion, no matter how much time passes?
A: Being Kind and compassionate.
Q: Who gives you the best support when you’re having a bad day?
A: My family, friends, co-workers, and my community.
Q: What is your best memory about a UNITY conference?
A: One time at a UNITY conference there was a youth council who had lost someone they loved very much. They sang this person a song on stage. It was the most beautiful song I have ever heard to this day. I still remember the way I felt and I have remembered that song since that day. I believe that song has helped me to heal many times.
Q: What is your favorite go-to quote or words?
A: I do not wish to compete with anyone, I hope we all make it.
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