For Salome Barker from Grand Falls – Windsor being a Mi’Kmaq person is her entire identity, “I live my everyday life as a Mi’kmaq person, it is so entrenched into who I am that I cannot pinpoint something exactly, she says. For Salome, a big part of being a Mi’kmaq person means she must help lift up others and create a safe environment for them to be themselves and explore who they are.
Making strong relationships with other Mi’kmaw people across Ktaqkuk to build on and learn from one another is something Salome feels strongly about. This is why you will most likely find Salome at almost any gathering or get together held by Qalipu in her ward. Salome is an active community leader and she is currently working on a 9-month fellowship called ‘Who We Are’. This is a project that she developed it is aimed at revitalizing Mi’kmaw culture among youth and is based in central Newfoundland. She leads conversations with youth focusing on their experiences of growing up as a Mi’kmaq person in Ktaqmkuk, what changes they would like to see within their community, schools, and their everyday life when it comes to their Indigeneity.
This falls in line with Salome’s own vision for what she would like to see for the future of Qalipu, she says “I would like for the vision of Qalipu to have a focus on Indigenous youth and helping them to achieve their dreams and inspiring them to do community work within their own communities and assisting them in whatever capacity that is. Where that is through funding, training, giving them the proper teachings, the future of Qalipu is at this point in the hands of the youth. However, for youth to take charge of projects they must feel supported and encouraged [by] the leaders within their communities.”
Salome herself tries to live her life by being honest with others, respecting the land, all her elders, and everyone she encounters. She tries to live her life with humility and always being conscious of her actions and words. She has taken the lead in making new connections and being more vulnerable which she says has helped her tremendously with staying connected to her culture. “I have learned so much from other community members and Elders that I will hold onto forever. As well, taking the time to be connected to the land is vital for [me]. Learning about where my ancestors came from and how they lived in Ktaqmkuk always keeps me grounded and secure in who I am. The land is healing and has so much to offer us as Mi’kmaq people, that I really try to not take it for granted” she said.
This has encouraged Salome to organize cultural workshops led by Elders and Mi’kmaq leaders across Newfoundland for the youth in her community where they can explore their own culture and learn more about who they are.
Thank you for your commitment to the community, Salome. Keep up the good work!