Tall, reserved and attentive to those around her, Marie-Christine has been devoted to creating art since she was a teenager. A member of the Atikamekw Nehirowisiw nation’s Ka Ockatisitcik Youth Movement, she’s a young woman with a remarkable range of talents who enjoys reading, writing and playing music in her spare time.
Marie-Christine sings and plays the piano and guitar as her instruments of choice, along with the violin and drums. In 2016, she contributed to writing a piece called “Nutshmit” (“In the Forest”) with the group Loco Locass and the Kiuna collective, which was included on the album “Nos Forêts Chantées” released on CD in 2017. Her many short films can be found online—not to mention photographs, drawings and paintings (oil and acrylic)! Her works are certainly a testament to her creative abilities and visual instincts. On top of all that, she’s a registered filmmaker with Canada’s National Film Board.
Born in Joliette in October 1992, Marie-Christine grew up in the community of Manawan, surrounded by her parents and grandparents. She discovered music and theatre in high school. At the age of 12, she shot her first short movies for Wapikoni Mobile. Fluent in Atikamekw, French and English, she has been the victim of racist abuse in some academic settings attended mainly by non-indigenous peoples. Today, this young leader’s activities focus on dialogue and communication between young indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in Quebec, Canada and abroad. Naturally, she condemns all racist attitudes, but she recognizes that this kind of deplorable behaviour may be caused by ignorance of other cultures.
Her desire to change relations between people of different cultures first manifested at CÉGEP de Trois-Rivières, where she was involved in the student café and served as representative of the visual arts program. That sparked her interest in political science, supporting marginalized communities and mobilizing the general public. She took part in the student demonstrations in the spring of 2012. Attending Kiuna College further fuelled her determination to improve recognition of indigenous peoples in the public sphere, both in Quebec and Canada. For her, establishing better relations between Aboriginal peoples and governments is essential.
Her graduating project at college, which combined texts and photographs, expressed her desire to better define indigenous identity with considerable eloquence and force. In it, she wrote:
“I am the number 2635 of the 78th Indian Band. 0780263501. It is this number which confirms my Indigenous identity according to the Indian Act. Just like the Jews during the Holocaust, or like cattle in a farm, we have been numbered too. This series of photographical portraits aim to denounce the fact that it is still this paternalist and colonialist law which defines our identity. Time has come to grasp the nettle, and to define, ourselves, who we are.”
Enrolling in political science at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in September 2017, she serves as president of the Circle of First Nations at UQAM. In her various roles, she contributes directly to reconciliation and intercultural dialogue in the public sphere. She devotes her efforts to raising people’s awareness of indigenous realities and dispelling various myths.
This Aboriginal student leader and multi-disciplinary artist speaks with pride of the Atikamekw nation’s hospitality: “We’re a peaceful, open and friendly people. Come and visit us!” she says.
Driven by her strong interest in relations between indigenous peoples and various nations, she plans to shortly begin studying for her master’s degree at a Canadian university, focusing on Aboriginal political issues. As a contributor to Wapikoni Mobile, she is currently working on a report about Aboriginal people in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest.
Her plans also include exploring new cultures, as she has already done in Europe and South America. She dreams of experiencing Haida culture, visiting Vancouver and hugging one of the giant conifers in the west coast’s verdant forests.
She shares the following advice for young people: “Seize the opportunities that are offered to you; believe in yourself; and don’t hesitate to get involved in business or start up your own projects.”