by Sherwin Strong (Courtenay, B.C.)
My name is Sherwin Glen Dan Strong. I come from the Nuuchatlat and Carrier First Nations.
My birth parents were unable to look after me and my twin sister, however they gave us up to my parents Zellah and Gerry knowing they would teach us about the traditions and culture we come from. In all my 24 years, I can say that growing up in a Native family was a true blessing.
When I turned 19, before leaving the care of the ministry, a local woman from Waichay Friendship Centre was able to locate and learn the roots of my family and heritage. I found out that I am related to Maquinna. Maquinna was the chief of the Nuu-chah-nulth people of Nootka Sound, during the maritime fur trade in the 1780s and 1790s. He was the leader that met James Cook at Friendly Cove. Knowing this about my heritage gave me great pride.
When I was 21, I had a chance to present my story and heritage to youth and families in Gold River in my role as the Self Advocate Liaison for the Comox Valley. On this trip to Gold River, I stayed in a Cedar-built hotel that sits on Maquinna Ave. It was a very surreal moment for me. I was with CLBC Facilitator Barb Legg. She and I were presenting together about CLBC being able to now offer services on reserve. I was speaking about my own transition from the Ministry of Children and Families to Community Living BC and what it was like to be newly employed.
This by far has been one of my greatest memories that represent the pride I have in my Indigenous heritage. I look forward to many more in my journey into adulthood as a First Nations man.