SHANE N. YOUNG
PhD Candidate (Trent), MSW, BSW
Leader, Educator, Researcher
Mist No’kmaq - Kwe’, Pjila'si.
Teluisi Shane, n’in Two-Spirit Mi’kmaw aq Newfoundlander Settler, tleyawi Mi’kma’ki K'Taqamkuk.
All My Relations, Hello, Welcome.
My name is Shane, I am Two-Spirit
Mi’kmaw and Newfoundland Settler from Mi’kmaq Territory, Land Across the Water (Newfoundland).
I am a social worker, educator, PhD Candidate (Trent), and Joseph-Armand Bombardier Scholar of Mi'kmaw and Newfoundland settler ancestry. I am a member of the Qalipu First Nation on the southwestern coast of Newfoundland (E'sukatijk Walne'k - Lourdes/Clam Bank Cove), where I was born and raised and have been living in Tkaronto since 2006.
Currently, I am an Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Community Service, School of Social Work, and the Academic Coordinator of the Indigenous Knowledges and Experiences Certificate with Toronto Metropolitan University (formally Ryerson University).
My professional social work practice has been in educational and community-based settings, with a strong background in building relationships with service groups and organizations in the broader community with the aim of providing services to diverse populations. My work has included populations that experience systematic marginalization and oppression in areas such as Deaf culture, homelessness, mental health and addictions, child welfare, and Indigenous communities.
My main research focuses are critical Indigenous studies, Urban Indigenous identities, colonial and decolonization theories, Indigenous research and knowledge methodologies, and Indigeneity. My doctoral research focuses on the development and maintenance of Mi'kmaw identities on the Island of Newfoundland. Further, emphasizing the impacts of colonial interferences on Indigenous identities through processes of settler colonialism and unearthing ways in which resurgence can create personal and cultural sovereignty.
GROWING UP IN KTAQMKUK (Newfoundland)
MI'KMAQ CONNECTIONS - BENOIT FAMILY
I am a member of the Qalipu First Nation on the southwestern coast of Newfoundland, where I was born and raised, and have been living in Tkaronto since 2006 (where I have been trying with humility to live up to my guest responsibilities to the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples). My family lineage on the Port au Port Peninsula (Payun Aqq Payunji'j) includes the surnames Benoit, Lainey, Hinks, Jesso, Young, and Marche.
The Benoit Mi'kmaq Community of K'taqmkuk traces its history back to the Chegau (Shay-gao) Mi'kmaw family (one of the original families of the Mi’kmaq), to Francois Benoit and Anne L'Official, Luc Benoit and brothers and to several other Mi'kmaq families who are the ancestors to most of the Benoit family of Mi'kmaq in K'taqmkuk. We are proud Benoit (eagle-Kitpu) clan. Some of us are “status Indians” under the provincial Qalipu First Nation. I want to kindly note that many of us have identified as Mi'kmaw long before the establishment of the Qalipu First Nation. Additionally, identity is complex, and one must not rely on government recognition of identity as a sole factor for identification, but rather should also include connections to home communities and to local communities (should one relocate).
The Mi'kmaq have always had a prominent presence in St. George's Bay (Nujio'qoniik) and on Payun Aqq Payunji'j (the Port au Port Peninsula) since time immortal (my familial connect being since the mid-to-late 1800s). Many of our Mi'kmaq ancestors came from around Pitu'pa'q (Bras d'Or lakes/Cape Breton Island) in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, with many distant relatives now living on First Nations there. In K'taqmkuk, we peacefully co-existed with the Red Ochre (oak-ker) people (Beothuk). We also have Beothuk connections through inter-marrying.
As a result of being pencilled out of the 1949 confederation with Canada, as were Indigenous Peoples in Labrador, the Mi'kmaq were not registered. Without official rights, the Indigenous Peoples of Newfoundland and Labrador came together to protect their rights and heritage.
NEWFOUNDLAND SETTLER (FRENCH) CONNECTIONS
Our people have historically built a relationship of peace and trust with the French Colonialists and settlers throughout the Mi'kma'ki homeland, and as Mi'kmaq, we learned to speak French before any other European language. It is for this reason that we have a strong French language history since the European arrival. With the Baptism of Grand Chief Henri Membertou, our people embraced Christianity as taught by Early French Missionaries.
We were also giving French last names (March to Marche or Benwah to Benoit). We are still spiritual, and there is an ongoing resurgence of traditional spiritual beliefs and practices that help fill the void in our hearts. Historically, the Mi'kmaq quietly lived in the area, often denying their ancestry since the British Empire were enemies of the French and their Mi'kmaq allies. Our ancestors spoke French and Mi'kmaq and did not do anything that would draw attention to themselves. No one was taking census records or knew of our movements until the European arrival.
Today, my family on Pukt aq Pukt Kwe’sawe’k (the Port au Port Peninsula) continues to co-exist with parts of the francophone community, most of whom are also of Mi'kmaq ancestry. We are friends, family, and allies with great mutual respect and understanding.
RELOCATION TO TKARONTO*
I relocated to Tkaronto in the Summer of 2006 with aspirations to attend post-secondary studies. I spent four years studying American Sign Language at George Brown College, then started to pursue social work in 2012.
I have been an Indigenous student representative on committees throughout my undergraduate degree and graduate studies and serve on several Board of Directors in Tkaronto.
Even though I have spent the last decade in Tkaronto, I continue to maintain a connection to my home and community in Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland). Moreover, I own this one truth, the fabric of my being is irrefutably made up of all the ancestors that have come before me and those who are yet to come. It is my responsibility to bring my history back to life, a life that was stolen but never forgotten. My truth is the sum of who I am, what I know, and the journey I continue to walk each and every day with kindness, love, and respect.
Msit No'kmaq (All My Relations)
*Tkaronto, (commonly known as Toronto) is a Mohawk word, meaning “the place in the water where the trees are standing," which is said to refer to the wooden stakes that were used as fishing weirs in the narrows of the local river systems by the Haudenosaunee and Huron-Wendat.
Click images to enlarge and for descriptions.
Shane and siblings, Sabrina and Shawn. Circa mid-1990's
Shane and Shawn. Circa early-1990's
Shane and Siblings, Sabrina and Shawn. Circa early-1990's.
Shane with siblings. Circa early 1990's
Ngij (My Mother). Circa early 1990's.
Shane and Shawn. Circa early 1990's
Circa early 1990's.
Ngij (My Mother). Circa Mid-1960's
Tata't (Father). Circa early 2000's.
Nmi' (My Grandmother). Circa mid-1980's
Shane and Siblings, Sabrina and Shawn. Circa early-1990's.
Shane and Shawn. Circa early 1990's.
Nemijgami' (My Grandfather). Circa early-1990's.