FORT WILLIAM FN – Bonnie Pelletier is running for Chief in Fort William First Nation. NNL’s Amanda Perreault sat down with Bonnie Pelletier to talk about her goals.
Here is what Bonnie Pelletier wrote on her goals
As a young girl I had dreams and aspirations. I always knew I wanted to help and empower people. I was taught from an early age how important higher education was. My parents and I knew that without it, I would face many barriers they and their parents before them often faced and spoke about. My parents, Charlie & Cecile MacLaurin (Boucher) worked hard and wanted what was best for us as kids. They certainly did their best with what little they had. Growing up on the reserve was difficult for everyone at the time. Life and opportunities were not as we know them today, and when opportunity rarely knocked, we did not and could not let it pass by as another may never come again for a very long time if at all.
As a young woman, I embarked on a journey to fulfill my dreams. I made an extremely hard decision to leave my parents, my siblings, my family, my friends and the only home I knew and loved; FWFN. I had initially studied health and obtained my degree in nursing before pursuing my passion for law. Both of which offered rewarding career paths that enabled me to pursue my lifelong dream of caring, advocating for and empowering people in less than ideal circumstances. The work I did came easy, because I could relate to challenging realities. The most difficult part however, was being away from my loved ones in FWFN. Often times I struggled through loneliness and being homesick when I could not be there to see my family and parents. During hard times, I would miss being back in our community where I always felt safe as it provided me with a sense of belonging and identity. Though I was far away, I was never truly gone. I worked hard and with the little bit extra I had I would make my way home to see my mom and dad and family. When we went to visit family and friends around the reserve, it was as though I had never left. We would carry on conversations and laughter without realizing we hadn’t missed a beat.
As years passed by, I continued to work hard so I could provide for my family. As a mother and daughter, I did not let barriers stand in my way, or prevent me from achieving my true potential. I was determined to make my parents proud and achieve a quality of life they wished they could provide for us as kids. I also hoped that my experiences would set an example for my son Roydon and grandsons Lyndon and Emerson and also to inspire others back home to pursue their potential and dreams.
I have always been a part of FWFN and it is to this day a big part of me and who I am. Whether we live near or far, we can never abandon our identity. FWFN is more than a community of people and voters. It is more than a Chief and Council. It is a nation, built on history, families, blood memory, treaty, stories, challenges, successes and tremendous potential that has shaped who we are, how we live, and what we believe. As a nation each of us as individuals possess the inherent values that connect us to our homeland and always will.
Moving back, closer to family and our community of FWFN concludes the last part of my journey home. The next part is yet to begin. As I reflect and share a bit of my story with you, I think of all our members who live on and off reserve. Near and far. I struggle with the concept of valuing and representing one member over the other solely based on where they are. More importantly I am in no position to pass judgement towards the decisions one makes to live on or off reserve largely due to my own past experiences. To especially hear and see elected leaders of FWFN denounce me for living away from my home indicate that we have an elected Chief and Councillors who choose not to represent all of us members equally. My situation relates to over 1000 members out of approximately 2400 who share a similar experience to mine.
I see value and worth in all members. I see the value and benefit of informing and including all our members and keeping the doors open at all times so no one ever feels left behind or severed from their home and identity. I want to help build a foundation of inclusion, open the doors wider, strengthen trust, inspire hope and help empower a nation that stands together with one vision that we all establish collectively regardless of where we live, what family we come from or how old or young we are.
I respect you as members who have genuinely asked me about my decision to run for Chief after living away from FWFN for a number of years. I especially appreciate the majority of members who have embraced my explanation with the willingness to still support me in the election. I thank you for giving me a chance. To all members, including those of you who do not support me as Chief, I respect and appreciate you just the same. If I am to be successfully elected as Chief, you have my word and commitment that I will represent all members with integrity, honesty, compassion, equality, strength and humility. I will be fierce in my advocacy on your behalf, I will never use fear to silence you, I will never take from you what is not mine to take and always put you first, I will never alienate you, I will never oppress you to lift myself, and I will always be accountable and transparent with you as Chief.
Miigwetch for taking the time to read a bit of my story that only I can share with credibility and meaning. Our stories are for us to share, no one else. If we allow others to tell our story, then with it we empower them to take our voice.
Please feel free to contact me directly, if you would like to know more or would like to visit.
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