1. Fred Penner
2. Gramma Shingoose
3. Dave Barber
“When I get called, I go.” That’s Gerry Shingoose’s motto.
A respected elder, knowledge-keeper and grandmother, Gerry Shingoose (or “Gramma Shingoose” as she’s known by many in Winnipeg’s Indigenous community) is a fixture at community events. Shingoose is, in her own words “a residential- school warrior” who survived nine years at Muscowequan Residential School.
“The trauma that I experienced was horrific ... it was a genocide ... and I survived that genocide.”
Reconnecting with her Indigenous culture through Idle No More in 2012 spurred Shingoose to regain pride in her identity that the residential- school system tried to take from her.
“We were sinners ... we were dirty Indians ... you know, those kinds of abuses. I came out of there with really low self-esteem. I came out of there ashamed to be an Indian. And today, I’m so proud, and I carry that pride knowing that I’m a strong Indigenous woman. And I love being Brown.”
When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was dissolved in 2015, Shingoose was determined to not let the collected residential-school survivors’ stories “sit on the shelf.” And so Shingoose made it her mission to go into the community and tell her story.
“When I was in residential school, in that little dormitory, I had nobody to help me. Nobody ... and now I can speak to what happened to me.”
Today, Shingoose estimates she’s shared her story with around 12,000 students from kindergarten to university during the last six years, often with her family by her side.
Shingoose also works with university students in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba, co-instructing with Dr. Josée Lavoie to teach students about the historical and present-day treatment of First Nations, Metis and Inuit people by the Canadian healthcare system.
Beyond this, Shingoose can also be found doing heart medicine at Ka Ni Kanichihk for Indigenous women who’ve experienced sexual violence.
Published in Volume 76, Number 12 of The Uniter (December 2, 2021)