It hasn’t been easy path to success for Na’kuset.
On Wednesday, while being honoured in Côte Saint-Luc, she shared memories of her painful childhood — the trauma of being taken from her home in Saskatchewan at a young age and adopted into a Jewish family in Montreal.
She recounted how she reclaimed her Cree identity, which after a long road, eventually led her to the work she does today.
Na’kuset is the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal and the co-founder of a neighbouring shelter Resilience Montreal.
She’s launched and led a number of initiatives and projects such as a pediatric centre for Indigenous children and families and assistance for missing Indigenous women and girls.
For all her achievements, she was honoured with a plaque at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Park, on the human rights walkway, alongside other great Canadian and world leaders in human rights.
“It’s quite surreal,” she said. “However, there’s so much work to do that it’s like a drop in the bucket.”
Those who work alongside Na’kuset say her drive and willingness to create change is inspiring.
“She’s always working and that’s because she cares a lot for the people, the people who are on the street,” said David Chapman, Resilience Montreal’s executive director. “It’s her life’s calling to make a difference.”
Côte Saint-Luc’s mayor says the city decided to honour Na’kuset because of her many contributions to the community, and to shed light on a story of resilience and empowerment.
“That’s really the purpose, is to try and inspire others to realize that everybody has a passion, everybody has something that they want to improve in the world, improve the quality of life for others and they can do it,” said Mitchell Brownstein.
Children from different elementary and high schools who were in attendance during Wednesday’s induction say it was inspiring to hear about Na’kuset’s journey, her achievements and the work she continues to do today.
“Meeting her and learning about not only how she got there, the way she got there — how she stood up, how she went to news places, newspapers — it makes me feel like when I want to do that, I can,” said Charlotte Magonet, a Grade 8 Bialik High School student.