Okimaw C. R. Petit
Born: January 23, 1968, St. Paul’s Hospital, Saskatoon, SK
Parents: Norris and Sylvia Petit (nee Gamble)
Maternal Grandparents: Vital and Philomene Gamble (nee Sutherland)
I was raised for most of my childhood in and out of Foster Care and away from my community; my siblings and I were born during a time when there was no ICFS, and at a time when if a woman married a non-status man, she lost her treaty rights, so my Brothers and I were born without, we had to apply for it as part of the Bill C31 process; my sisters were given the option to keep their treaty, or receive a payout – but that’s another story.
All of my happy memories come from here, time spent with family is what kept me anchored; the Hill Feasts, Sports Days, Ft. Carlton, trips to the Carlton store, Riding Horses, Kukom’s Porridge and Bannock for breakfast – no matter where social services sent me, I knew that Beardy’s was my home – it’s where I have always felt welcomed, safe, and loved.
I grew up in a world where addiction and abuse was the norm – at an early age I became what I saw around me, I adopted the behaviours of my teachers, and did not escape the cycle until the age of 28, when I was forced to face the fact that I was either going to end up dead, or spend the rest of my life in a cell… neither of these options seemed inviting to me anymore at this point in my life.
Many hours, days, weeks and months of counselling, workshops, cultural teachings and the wisdom of many elders and ceremony keepers is what saved me from myself and the life that I was living – I have not had to touch any form of mind altering substance for going on 21 years now; I remain actively involved in ceremony and have dedicated my life to helping others when and where I can – we are taught that we only keep what we have by giving it away.
I did not receive my education in the traditional way; I wrote and passed the GED in 1995, I attended University but did not complete my studies; I took part in many short courses made available through the counselling centre that I attended, and eventually became an employee with that same agency – I received certification in items such as Facilitator Training, Mediation Training, Thought Field Therapy, and Life Skills Coach Level1 – following and during my training, I facilitated many programs in and around Prince Albert and was invited to speak at many schools, and agencies. I have used my life experiences, combined them with my training to try and help others around me, I will continue to do so any way that I can, for as long as I can.
I have been fortunate in my middle years to have been offered many opportunities to develop and build on the skills that I have gained throughout my lifetime – I have to say that this is not somewhere I envisioned myself being – Before my training I had been: a rock picker, potato grader, sugar beet-hoer, waiter, bouncer, and lapel pin painter; after I started my personal healing journey, I was placed in positions such as the manager of a business, the Director of 3 different organizations, I have been a youth worker and counsellor, employment & training Counsellor, and now this Band Councillor for my community – My life has had many ups and downs, I have, and continue to learn each and every day – I am grateful for what I have been given, for what has been entrusted to me, and for the opportunity to continue to help…
I will leave you with my favorite quote from one of our great leaders of the past:
“Let us put our minds together and see what future we will make for our children” – Sitting Bull