04.17.1812

My name is Rosalie L’Hirondelle.

In 1788, I was born under the traditional name Mistawasis.  It was only when I turned 15 and was married off to a French man named Jean-Paul, that I changed my name to match his.  It’s normal that all intermarriages turn out this way.

I grew up as part of the Nehiyawak, or as the English say, part of the Cree.  I was born just south of the Hudson’s Bay, which meant that many of the elders I knew worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company.  They were, and still are, essential to the European’s success.  We are the ones who help them with the guiding and hunting.  It is us who retrieve the fur for others to trade.  Without my people, who knows what would happen to the fur?  And without the fur, who knows what would happen to my people?

At the moment, I am taking a short break from traveling with my family from Canada, to England and France.  My husband, Jean-Paul, has been assigned to travel with the fur trading Coureurs des Bois.  I have come along to assist in sewing clothing, making food, and of course, taking care of our young daughter Sophie.

I enjoy travelling with my husband because I am able to see so much more of the world than the other women I know normally would.  Many women of my age and from my community spend their days secluded, making clothing and furniture.  While all the work they do is beautiful and appreciated, that’s not what I want to do with my life.  I want to go out and see the world.  I want to have the same opportunities as Europeans and  men.  I want to make change.

But I can’t.  Because I am Cree.  Because I am a woman.  I am in the minority of a minority and it limits me beyond belief.  Recent talk started by a man named Durham has me even more worried about my future.  Limiting the language in Canada to strictly English is going to send even more discrimination in my direction.

Life within Canada cannot change so negatively.  My people and the Europeans have a steady trade relationship going. We need eachother, that’s a fact.  Forcing us to speak the same language will not make positive change between groups. We still rely on eachother all the same.

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