Cornell Pashe and Renata Beaulieu are two people who have done a lot in Portage la Prairie and surrounding communities to keep Indigenous language alive and have been recognized for their efforts with reconciliation.
Pashe received a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee medallion in a special ceremony in Carman last Sunday. He says he does not know who nominated him, but he has been told he was recognized for his contribution as an Indigenous Coordinator, bringing awareness for reconciliation and helping set up the Urban Indigenous COVID Clinic in Portage, along with his, "endless devotion and dedication in bringing all people together". He says he didn't expect this.
"Well, it was surprising. When you look at recognition, you don't often see it, because you're busy doing your work on reconciliation," says Pashe. "To be recognized, with the award, was surprising. It was really surprising to know that we were given that award for the work that we do, and it was appreciated."
He says many people helped out when it came to the clinic. Without the support of the community, they would not be as successful as they have been. He is appreciative to everyone who did their best to make that project work.
"We were able to add an Indigenous component to it, which for us, was reconciliation, public educating and that for us, was key to the whole event," says Pashe. "To be recognized for that was appreciated."
Jacinda Houle was in attendance to receive the medallion on behalf of her mother. Renata Beaulieu passed away on July 22nd, 2022. She was asked how she felt receiving the award.
"(I felt) proud, because my mom put tremendous effort into educating the community on the Anishinaabe ways of life and culture, because she was a teacher," says Houle. "She taught beading in Ojibwe, and that was something that she was super passionate about. For her to be recognized for that, is heartwarming, and I feel really honoured. The day of, I think I felt sad because she wasn't there to accept it herself, but I was able to accept it on her behalf."
Beaulieu served as coordinator for the Portage Bear Clan and was often taking part in programming designed to teach others about Indigenous language and tradition.
"Seeing how passionate she was, motivates me and inspires me to keep on doing what she did, being involved in the community, volunteering, and taking as many opportunities as I can to public educate, and teach what I'm passionate about, which is dancing," says Houle. "(I'm also passionate) about also preserving the language because as much as I wish I was fluent, I do try to learn it and to teach it to others so it's never lost. I want to continue doing that to make her proud."