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Woman of Vision: Deloria Many Grey Horses

CALGARY- Ceremonies are an important part of Deloria Many Grey Horses’ life.  In fact, there was quite a celebration when she first came into this world.

“When I was born they had a ceremony for me for four days…this is the old way that we used to do things, they really celebrated the birth of a child,” says Many Grey Horses, who is from the Kainai Nation in Southern Alberta.

From those early days, Many Grey Horses understood her role in her community and embraced her cultural legacy.

“In Dakota culture, the number one role in life was to be a good relative. Before you eat you look to your left and you look to your right and you make sure that all your community members have something to eat as well. So it was a very important thing for me, how can I make my community better.”

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It’s something Many Grey Horses is focused on today in her work as an Aboriginal engagement consultant at the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate in Alberta. She works with young people addressing their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health and talks to them about their culture and what it can mean in their lives.

“Remembering the hardships that my ancestors have gone through to make the path a little bit softer for us…there’s never been a time in history, I think, that Aboriginal people, Indigenous people, have been given that space. We’re able to celebrate our Aboriginal culture and it’s just beautiful.”

Many Grey Horses has helped create a collection of stories designed to celebrate that culture. The Manual of Aboriginal Best Practices in Sports and Wellbeing will be launched at the Alberta Indigenous Games in St. Albert this August.

“The vision of the manual was that we would interview leaders and role models throughout Canada and the U.S. and look at their story and look at the key ingredients that helped them become successful in their different areas. “

But it’s not just a manual for helping Indigenous youth realize their athletic potential; it’s also a manual for life.

“It’s really kind of to help young people, athletes, as well as the whole community, to look at a way to live a successful life and remembering the importance of your culture.”

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The daughter of Chief Phil Lane, a renowned Indigenous Humanitarian leader, Many Grey Horses was aware of her birthright, and her responsibility to make a difference in the world, but she was also part of another culture growing up.

While her father travelled the world with many commitments, she was also raised by an extended family, whose openness helped shape who she would become.

“They were a really big part of my life and taught me the importance of family values.  So as a little girl, I walked in both those worlds because they’re non-natives. They showed me that it doesn’t have to be either or, that you can really exist in both worlds and what does it mean to be an urban Aboriginal person.”

What it means to Many Grey Horses is doing all she can to light a passion in young people and help them find their own path to success.

“Watching the spark in their eyes really is just amazing. When they realize, you know what, I can do this…the possibilities are endless for me.”

Click here to nominate a Woman of Vision.