Thunderchild First Nation – Cree
Born and raised in Calgary by residential school survivors and first-generation city dwellers, Shalome Hope grew up far from her Thunderchild First Nations. Shalome tells the consequence of her second half of youth growing up in the child welfare system—it severed connections “to anything.” She did not let such loss be a constant in her life. She spent years building healthy and strong ties with her community. She describes herself as “an activist and artist finding strength and healthy pride in making steps toward Decolonization and Cultural Reintegration.” Her life exemplifies both.
Marrying a man from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, Shalome has come to find a space of empowerment with her new family. While learning Cree from her father who is fluent, she is also learning Nakoda from her Nakoda in-laws. Along with language learning, she spends the summers at their hunting camp absorbing history, culture, stories, and medicines, of which she is particularly excited about. Her own words best portray her feelings, “The learning I am so humbled to receive belongs to them, it is saving my life…I know my purpose. I wish this for all of our young warriors.”
Shalome’s purpose is to uplift her community. She does this in many ways, through formal courses to students, through children’s theatre, through teaching accurate history and addressing topics like residential schools, treaties, and the Indian Act. Her intention is to empower Indigenous students with the brilliance, courage, and resilience of their ancestors and relatives throughout history to the present. Shalome is also willing to address situations of racism, injustice, or violence by calling people in rather than calling them out. These actions still extract a cost, but Shalome believes they can create change. She collects a “growing stack of apology letters from various institutions with commitments to change.” In her role as a public speaker and performance artist, she leverages the opportunity to highlight Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.
There is a strength of spirit that you see in Shalome’s life. She lives fully, embracing every opportunity to receive and to give. Her actions communicate her gratitude for every gift of language and knowledge she gathers. You sense the deep joy she finds in being a good relative to all and being in community following in the ways of her ancestors.