When Dorothy Medicine got the phone call last week that she had won an International Year of Older Persons provincial award, she first thought she was the victim of a crank call.
“Some lady just called me . . . from Sudbury,” the 68-year-old Rainy River First Nations resident recalled. “I was ready to go to this meeting and she told me I won this award. I said that’s nice and good-bye.
“I was telling these people at the meeting [about the call] and they said that they heard it on the radio,” she continued. “Then it dawned on me I won something.”
Medicine was not able to attend the awards ceremony last Wednesday evening at Science North in Sudbury, which honoured 15 seniors from across Northern Ontario, including Rachel George of Sioux Lookout.
Cam Jackson, minister of Long-Term Care with responsibility for seniors, presented the awards.
Medicine worked for many years as the community health rep for her reserve, and continues working with the seniors now that she has retired.
“In the summer time, they have gardens and I help them with that,” she noted. “Sometimes I cook and I do meals on wheels. I visit the hospitals when the elderly are in there or I take them some fruit.”
Medicine also co-ordinates many of the seniors’ trips and picnics. And when she’s not doing that, she helps out at the interpretative centre and the round house at Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung (Manitou Mounds).
Not to mention making bannock for different schools in the area, or teaching people how to do traditional beadwork.
“She does a lot of work for the community,” her husband, Tom, said, especially in preserving the First Nation people’s culture.
“She tells stories to the children about First Nations people,” he continued. “She talks about fish, talks about birds, she talks about lots of things.
“That’s why she’s called upon,” he said.
Medicine herself tried to downplay her work in the community. “What else is there to do?” she laughed when asked why she does it.
“My kids are grown up and I just can’t sit at home,” she said. “It’s just something to do.”