This National Indigenous History Month, and every day, we’re honoured to elevate the stories and voices of our Indigenous team members and partners. The following story was written by Bonnie George, a Witset member of Wet’suwet’en Nation and one of Coastal GasLink’s Community Workforce Accommodation Advisors (CWAA).
My mother, a traditional Wet’suwet’en Matriarch dedicated herself to teaching my siblings and I the traditional and cultural way of our ancestors. She was masterfully artistic in tanning moose hides and creating beautiful traditional beaded moose-hide crafts.
While she gifted many pieces over the years, it’s hard to pinpoint a singular significant piece; however, if I were to choose a piece that is most sentimental, it would be this shawl that was gifted to me for a special occasion.
I have worn the shawl twice in my life. The first was for a Balthats (Potlatch) when I received my traditional name, Gudsiluk, meaning Small Snare. The second time was at an International Restorative Justice Conference in the Netherlands where I spoke of the Wet’suwet’en traditional way of restorative conflict resolution. Our traditional way is now protected and recognized by Canada as an equal justice system to its own.
In gifting me the shawl, my mother passed on more than an object; she passed on the tremendous strength and resilience of our people.
During National Indigenous History Month, I am honoured to have the ability to elevate the story of my mother’s shawl and its significance to me as a Wet’suwet’en woman, mother, grandmother and sister. It represents the respect, honour and integrity I devote to my heritage, something I feel privileged to continue to share with those I cross paths within my day-to-day life. For me, when we can openly share our stories, we can learn and ultimately heal together.
I take great pride in the work I do within my community, and in my role as a CWAA to give my people a voice and representation, while ensuring our traditional knowledge, language and culture is protected for generations to come.
As people reflect on National Indigenous History Month, I hope and pray for Harmony and Unity for all our families and Nations in this beautiful country we call home so that we may all move forward together as one.
In her role as a CWAA on CGL, Bonnie helps to foster a respectful and safe relationship between workers and the local communities that host them. Through cultural events, recreational activities, wellness challenges and mental health support, Indigenous advisors like Bonnie are creating a healthier living environment for our workforce. In addition to supporting members at the lodges, CWAA’s are ambassadors of inclusion, resource navigators, role models, cultural keepers and monitors for Indigenous communities.