Ozhoshko Binesi Kwe, Grandmother Florence Paynter

Anishinaabe Nation, Sandy Bay First Nation

“We have to stand up for Mother Earth and give her voice. She is one of our entities which continues to support us and provide all its resources to us.”

Knowledge Keeper Florence Paynter (Blue Thunderbird Woman) is from Sandy Bay First Nation and a band member of Norway House Cree Nation. She is a third degree Mide Anishinabekwe and holds a Masters Degree in Education from the University of Manitoba. Florence speaks Anishinabe fluently and has been involved in many language and cultural initiatives and ceremonies. She helps teach the cultural and spiritual knowledge and traditions of the Anishinabe people. Florence attended residential school and works hard to teach others about the history of First Nations people, the legacy of Indian residential schools, and its impact on us as people.

Florence has significant experience working with cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary groups with the goal of developing curriculum or projects that better reflect First Nations values and cultures. From 1981-2000, Florence was a Native Language and Cultural Consultant for the Aboriginal Education Branch (formerly Native Education Branch) of Education and Training Department of the Government of Manitoba. Her primary role was to assist in modifying educational curriculum to ensure they were reflective of First Nations teachings. Florence was part of an interdisciplinary project team which drafted the Manitoba Government Report “Education for a Sustainable Future: A Resource for Curriculum Developers, Teachers and Administrators” (2000). Florence was responsible for bringing the First Nation perspective on education and the environment. From 2000 – 2010, Florence worked at the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC) as a Research and Development Coordinator. From approximately 2000-2003, Florence collaborated with the Fur Institute of Canada to coordinate the development of land based education with nine First Nations in Manitoba.

One of Florence’s main goals is to assist First Nations to better understand their identities. From 2011-2014, Florence was an Elder Advisor to the University of Manitoba Migizii Agamik (Aboriginal House) where she provided counselling and teachings to Aboriginal students and staff. From 2011 – 2015, Florence was an Elder Advisor for the Eagle Urban Transition Centre which provides social services to individuals who transition from living on reserve to the city of Winnipeg. She has taught the spiritual and cultural components at the Eagle’s Nest Program for at-risk youth.

Florence is member of the Grandparent Council of the City of Winnipeg, which meets regularly to help one another with issues and concerns and provide advice. She is also a member of the Speakers Bureau for the Treaty Relations Commission. Florence has shared teachings about First Nations laws and cultures for many years. She was one of the contributors in the “Anishinaabe Nibi Inaakonigewin Report” (2013) which was produced by the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Human Rights Research and Public Interest Law Centre about Anishinaabe water laws. In this book, Florence states:

“We have suffered greatly from the laws, legislation and policies that have been imposed. I’m grateful for the laws our people have sustained for us so we can have a place and people we can go to.”

In 2015-2016, Florence was an Elder Advisor to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs with respect to the Enbridge Line 3 hearing. She is also one of the authors of “Ogichi Tibakonigawyin, Kihche Othasowewin, Tako Wakan: The Great Binding Law,” developed with other Knowledge Keepers at the Turtle Lodge and a co-author of Wahbanung – The Resurgence of a People: Clearing the Path for our Survival, publication pending.
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