Donna Dubie, Executive Director
“Do you walk the path that Creator wanted you to walk? Do you accept the things that Creator puts in front of you? Allow yourself to see the seeds that Creator is planting. If you are open, then you are strong.”
Donne Dubie (60, Founder of Healing of the Seven Generations Kitchener, Haudenosaunee of Six Nations, Turtle Clan)
“Sometimes we got strap, sometimes buckle. No beating was ever under 50 strikes. I used to count.” Donna Dubie always believed that love was a hateful thing. It came with hurt, disrespect, violation and fear. The happiest times of her childhood are tainted with repercussions from her father. A story about dragging her first Christmas tree home for blocks to surprise her family ends with, “I don’t remember what happened that night, but I know my brother and I went to bed broken and our spirits bruised.”
Donna’s father Harry Battice (Harvey Baptise) left the Mohawk Institute (Mush Hole) Residential School a very broken man. On the outside, he was an alcoholic, angry, afraid, an abusive parent and husband. Like others who suffered from the trauma of residential school, his journey through life became stuck in a revolving door of loss, confusion and coping mechanisms. For years Donna would walk down the same path of her father, perpetually stuck in the kinds of relationships she had been taught.
“I was with a very abusive husband. He wasn’t quite as bad as my father, but he beat me severely on occasion. When I was pregnant with our third daughter, he kicked me square in the stomach. When he left us, I became homeless with my four children for six months. I picked up with another man who was more horrendous than my father ever was,” she says. “I thought I knew what my life was going to like. All I could see was the edge of a cliff and nothing but blackness below me. I pondered again about taking my life. I went to Toronto with a plan to commit suicide, having left my children with someone that I trusted. That is when I met Charlie again.”
Donna has been with her husband Charles Dubie for 35 years. He has never said a hateful thing to her. He has never physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally abused her.
“Creator puts the person that you’re supposed to be with in your path. Sometimes it’s not the person that you envisioned for yourself, so you put this person aside and carry forward. I knew my husband previously, but when I saw him again, I suddenly saw him differently. I understand now that he was a gift that that the Creator sent me.”
It took a long time for Donna to relearn the ways in which she viewed love. In finally accepting Charles, she moved through her revolving door of alcohol, abuse, and loneliness, to the other side where her healing journey began in 1990’s. In 2001, she founded The Healing of the Seven Generations, a Kitchener-based community centre to help bring the same clarity to her community. Every year Donna sees over 15,000 Indigenous people seeking guidance, hoping to break their cycle of suffering and embark on their own paths to find healing. She reminds each of them to accept whatever it is that Creator places in front of them.
“Every time you ask for strength, Creator puts a test in front of you. If you put that test to the side to deal with later and carry forward, Creator knows it. Further down your path, he will put another test, only this time it’s bigger. He will make it so big that you cannot go around it,” she says. “We have enough strength already. Ask instead for knowledge, understanding, direction and acceptance. This is what we need to move forward. Creator will show you.”
Contact: Donna Dubie firstname.lastname@example.org
James Boppre, Court Support Worker
“I spent most of my summers just outside the town of Southampton, Ont. with my mother Honey Boppre/ Bruder and grew up with a different idea about the native culture and in the oppressive Catholic Church Indoctrination. My mother was a kind and thoughtful countrywoman and she always expressed her love through her cooking, cleaning, caregiving, and storytelling. She loved playing music with her accordion. My Father helped build local business Kuntz Electroplating from the ground up and was proudly their 1st employee and serviced them for 50 years.”
He always taught me to respect the land, never to kill an animal unless you’re going to use all of that animal, always give thanks and express gratitude, practice respect, tell the truth, and do your best. My Father always told me don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do something and that I could do anything if I put my mind to it. He always showed me affection and sometimes that affection hurt. Both my folks are gone now and they have left me in a good spot to be the father of my most precious daughter Jaimee-Lee. For the most part, my teenage to early adult years was spent with friends. Partying became my favourite pastime however I always maintained a solid work ethic. After working 5 years with my Father at Kuntz, I went to GRHC for 12 years and started my own successful Landscaping business. After 10 years of that I had more money then I knew what to do with and found myself in full-blown addiction, running shirtless and shoeless from the cops, and facing serious charges, imprisonment, multiple drug and behavioural-change rehab centres, loss of my marriage, FCS involvement, all my possessions gone etc.” “With nothing, I went back to school in 2013 graduated with a ticket in Social Work and did my placement at the Healing of the Seven Generations where I began learning how to live my life and help others that have gone through similar trials.
The last Residential school that was shut down was in 1997. They (Canadian Government through the Catholic Church ) took Indigenous babies from their parents, from their culture in order to breed the colour out of them. Assimilation.
Its hard sometimes to know who you are or where you are from. In fact don’t we all ask ourselves that question one time or another? When an entire culture goes through 150 years of genocide that question turns into more of a statement. Who am I? What does love mean? What does love look like? Native people never made a decision as a community unless they knew the impact of that decision 7 generations down the road. Many natives are asked to prove it. I’ve never heard a white person having to prove they are white.
“I have my Daughter who is simply my reason for being and who has continuously challenged me to better myself – I cannot thank the Creator enough for her. I am a Father, I’m a son, I’m a brother and I am a friend. My family now is much different then what I would have ever thought it to be. I am in a place now that feels like home to me, a place of acceptance, love, nurturing. Here we practice the Seven Grandfather Teachings, how to express yourself in a kind way. We make mistakes and we treat ourselves very kind during those times and we ask Creator for knowledge, understanding, acceptance, and direction. We have choices in what arguments we choose to engage in. Sometimes the best response is no response at all.
As a Native Court Support Worker, I now find myself gone full circle, and advocate both with and against the stakeholders in our court system. I do this in Family Court, Criminal Court, Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Youth Court, and one that I’m extremely proud to be part of is KW’s first Indigenous Peoples Court which we are working to establish in the Region. My parents have now journeyed on to the spirit world & now my family looks much different to me. I know who I am, I know how to love and I am a kind man.
Many thanks to my sisters and brothers, Donna Dubie, Mark Lavallee, Robert Price, Justice Edward and Justice Goode, Jeannie, Nina and Louise, the late Angie Misquadis, the community and so many others that have helped me in so many kind ways.”
Contact James Boppre at email@example.com.
Fran Davis, Cultural Programming Coordinator
K. Fran Davis is Haudenosaunee from the Six Nations territory of the Grand River, Cayuga nation and part of the Wolf clan. She brings cultural programming to the Healing of the Seven Generations for the community members of the K-W region.
K. Fran Davis has many years experience working with and for our Indigenous people from here on Turtle Island. She is a strong advocate with implementing the Calls to Action that came from Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission. K. Fran Davis is an intergenerational champion of Canada’s Indian Residential School System. She says champion because we are still here! Despite the assimilation and genocide attack on our ancestors and ways of life!
K. Fran Davis has been active in the K-W community nearly four years ago providing Haudenosaunee style dancing and singing performances, traditional teachings, workshops and educating at various post secondary institutions and most recently Grand Valley Institution for Women Federal Penitentiary. Working in the penitentiary is what brought her and her family to reside in Kitchener.
K. Fran Davis appreciates the experiences that have contributed to her understanding of life and how to best be of service to the future of our descendants. She has been working with various populations from new born to our old people. K. Fran Davis worked in health care, justice, education, employment & training, the arts, museums, protection services (that’s right – security guard) and always for Indigenous related practices.
K. Fran Davis expects that her and her family will be calling Kitchener home for sometime.
Rebecca Sargent, Grant and Research Coordinator
“Healing of the Seven Generations feels like an extended family to me. Since I first stepped foot into the doors, I felt that this is the place I need to be. I know the programs here work, because they helped me learn new ways to cope with my own PTSD. I went from being barely functional, having no self-confidence, and anger; to realizing my worth, and having happiness and goals in my life again.
For me, prevention is better than reaction. Many of the crises in the local community are preventable with proper care and attention. The First Peoples community in the Region of Waterloo is strong, resilient, and capable, but have faced a great deal of trauma, discrimination, and difficulties in their lives. My mission is to secure funding so that we can provide holistic, culturally relevant programming to those who need it; build our organizational capacity, and help develop programming so that we can provide the best preventive and healing after-care to help our community thrive and reach their full potential.”
Rebecca has a B.A. from Wilfrid Laurier University in Anthropology and Global Studies, and several post-grad certifications in peacebuilding and preventative systems. She has over a decade of experience freelance writing and consulting for a variety of organizations and individuals, from the corporate world to real estate professionals, major newspapers/publications, nonprofit organizations, academia, and government agencies. She has worked as a researcher and analyst on structural and cultural violence for several organizations.
Jeanie Billings, Seniors Programming
Jeanie Billings is one of our energetic long-term volunteers, who helps ensure our community has what the food and love that they need. She is well-known at our organization for her exceptional cooking abilities, her boundless energy and kindness, and her exciting Seniors social events.
More details to come soon.
Pandora Wilhelm, Administration and Support
C. Pandora Wilhelm was born in the Georgian Bay Region and is Métis from Penetanguishene, Ontario. Like many First Peoples across Canada, Pandora grew up with no knowledge of her cultural background or heritage due to the stigma that is associated with being Indigenous. Pandora has been working at Healing of The Seven Generations since February 2017 and after a brief Maternity Leave, has returned to work with her infant son.
Pandora relocated to the Waterloo Region from Orillia in 2011 to fully remove herself from the second of two back to back domestically violent relationships. Upon moving to the Region with her two children, then 3-years-old and 11-months-old, she enrolled in Conestoga College’s General Arts & Sciences Program and slowly began volunteering in the community at Ray of Hope and The Working Centre’s St. John’s Kitchen.
In 2012 Pandora had the opportunity to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) alongside 20 other community minded young adults at a retreat in Orangeville. It was through that program that she was able to connect with Canadian Roots Exchange and attend Council Fire’s Truth and Reconciliation conference in Toronto later that year. It was this chain of events that propelled her into connecting with her culture and working in the Aboriginal community.
Over the past 6 years Pandora has immersed herself in the community as a volunteer with marginalized populations and with youth. Currently, she sits on the Grand River Métis Council as Secretary and is an active member with the Scouting and Guiding organizations in the Region.
Pandora currently lives on a farm on the outskirts of Waterloo with her husband, their three children, three dogs, and two horses.
Prior to working with Healing of The Seven Generations, Pandora worked at The Working Centre in their Job Café Program. She is currently attending University on a part-time basis and hopes to finish her degree and attend Teacher’s College to teach today’s youth. Her goal is to teach Outdoor and Aboriginal Education to children in Kindergarten to Grade 3 upon completion of University and then Teacher’s College.
Sarah Bacon, Volunteer Coordinator
Sarah Bacon, Turtle Clan – Ardoch Algonquin First Nations – is the Volunteer Coordinator for The Healing of The Seven Generations and has volunteered at Healing for just over three years. Sarah is the backbone of our organization! Sarah is the youngest of seven sisters and two brother. Every year so travels to New Brunswick for two weeks to visit her mother and family there.
“Family means the world to me, and when I can work with family every day, that means even more! Over the past three years of working here, I’ve gained a wealth of Aunties, Sisters and Uncles that I have never had in a life time.”
Sarah’s passions include taking care of animals and horse back riding. She currently lives in Kitchener with her father and is going to school for English. Her goal is to some day start her own therapeutic riding centre.
The Healing of the Seven Generations works with several healing partners to help our community.
Wendy Sero Stewart is the sole proprietor of Tall Tree Consulting, a First Nations provider that works primarily with Indigenous Families who are involved in the child welfare system. Wendy is a Turtle Clan band member of the Bay of Quinte Mohawk. Her family located to rural Wellington County in the late 1960s which is where Wendy currently lives with her husband David, who’s maternal roots stem from the Gordon Band in Saskatchewan. The couple raised two sons who are now grown men and live in Wellington County.
Wendy began her work in the child-welfare field at the tender age of 17. In 1973 her family opened one of the first Indigenous Young Offenders Group Homes in Ontario. The homes were owned and operated entirely by First Nations workers which was a rare service back in those days, as it still is today.
Shortly after their marriage in the middle of the 1970s, David joined Wendy’s work in the main home. As a young couple in their early 20s, Wendy and David had full charge of 8 youth, along with a fully operating mixed farm. This experience laid the foundation to Wendy’s work in child welfare today.
After leaving the group home in the late 1980s, Wendy has furthered her experience working with a wide range of social and legal issues facing First Nations such as child and family services, restorative justice, various land based and art youth programs, equine therapy, suicide prevention and Indigenous mental health. She has worked with both individual First Nations and Indigenous Organizations from coast to coast in Canada and the United States. Delivering information sessions, training and related presentations.
One of Wendy’s prime interests is to learn and understand Indigenous conflict resolution styles. Many of the group homes were located in predominantly settler farm rural communities. There were many misunderstandings with the local police, town and school officials, local shop keepers etc. The Mohawk approach to this kind of conflict is to host the “Creator’s Game”, or lacrosse as it was later called in Canada. Wendy would coordinate games between officials, town folk and the children and staff of the group home. The game was always feasted after and would end with a talking circle between all participants.
Today, Wendy helps Indigenous families navigate the child welfare system and sits on the provincial roster to facilitate Talking Circles between child welfare officials and Indigenous families. She is actively engaged in helping Wellington, Waterloo and Dufferin Family and Children’s Services become more accountable in their agency leadership and how they service families who self-identify as Indigenous. She has helped establish community protocols and working relationships between child welfare and Indigenous service agencies. Wendy is an independent First Nations provider that has a life-long commitment to improve the lives of Indigenous children and their families.
Louise Burns is a Metis woman who sits in the North of her Medicine Wheel. She moved from Sudbury to the Kitchener area where she has lived for over 25 years. She worked as a Family Psychotherapist in a Cree and Metis community in Northern Alberta for 3 years before returning in 2015 to the Kitchener area.
Since back in this area she works as an independent family psychotherapist , providing therapeutic support combined with Traditional ways and teachings alongside, The Healing of The Seven Generations. It is important to Louise to integrate and live teachings from the Elders and First Nation communities and she values heart connection.
Her Spirit, heart, body, and mind are committed to supporting the individual and collective health and balance, of children, youth, individuals, and families.
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