On International Women’s Day, the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) pledged to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of individuals in the community (Medicine Hat & surrounding area) who lead, inspire, and motivate women and who work to break the bias towards advancing gender equity.
This month, Brenda Mercer, has been chosen as the winner of the MHPS “Be the Change Award.” Brenda is also known for her Dakota, Indigenous name, Wacungu Waste Win; Good Sweetgrass Woman. Brenda holds a position of high esteem in Medicine Hat for her ability to lead, inspire and motivate woman through holistic approaches; to strengthen women’s bonds to family and community.
With passion and humility, Brenda has regularly shared her own story of how the residential school system and the 60’s scoop has affected her life and those of her biological family. Brenda’s story is one which has encompassed prejudice, racism, elements of assimilation, interrupted precious cultural practices and fragmented family relationships.
In Brenda’s own journey of healing and learning, she has chosen to be an advocate for change and to work with Indigenous people, especially woman, through encouragement and support of self-empowerment. Brenda’s biological mother was a residential school survivor but did struggle once becoming a mother. Brenda was removed from her mother and placed in foster care (60’s scoop) at birth and lived with a non-Indigenous family. Brenda understands the importance of mothering across generations and has two daughters of her own. Brenda’s story and the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next is her practice of “love.”
Brenda has been determined to share her story and use Indigenous traditional crafting to bridge the gap and provide opportunities to connect with others in our community. Brenda believes art and story telling are inviting ways to inspire healthy dialogue about healing and reconciliation. Brenda shares her art of drum and rattle making, beading and other leather work regularly in Medicine Hat and online. She has held traditional crafting sessions at the local library and at the Miywasin Friendship Centre to all who are interested. Brenda also started sharing her traditional crafting online being the founder of White Horse Rider Co.
Over the last several years, Brenda has worked with the Miywasin Friendship Centre as the cultural co-ordinator and volunteers with the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta (SSISA). Brenda has spoken in the past at International Women's Day events sharing her life story. Brenda is determined to be a good role model and lead by example; seizing any opportunity to learn and demonstrate her knowledge and skills to others.
MHPS understands this is only a fraction of the impact Mercer has had on the women of our region.
Congratulations Brenda for fostering inclusive collaboration through sharing your journey and passion!
Over the next year, each month the MHPS will select a local individual(s) to highlight and celebrate, with a goal of raising the profile, recognizing, and celebrating the achievements of these individuals who are catalysts for change in our community, and are working to advance women professionally and personally.
Anyone who wishes to nominate a strong role model in our community can submit a nomination via the MHPS website (https://app.mhps.ca/be-the-change-award) or mobile app for consideration. The nominations will be reviewed by a committee comprised of women who serve with the MHPS and each month they will select and arrange to meet with the winner to celebrate their accomplishments.