Elder Albert Dumont is committed to protecting the rights of Aboriginal peoples, and to ensuring respect and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures. An Algonquin traditional teacher as well as a poet and author, Albert is dedicated to helping others heal, working with organizations like the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, and formerly acting as a spiritual advisor to Indigenous inmates at the Millhaven Institution.
Albert served as an Elder for the Parole Board of Canada, and is currently one of 13 Elders on the Elders Advisory Council of the Ministry of the Attorney General. But Albert also realizes that true change comes from educating our youth, and he works diligently with young people in Ottawa to help shape their understanding of Indigenous culture and experience, and its integral place in the fabric of our country. Albert Dumont is one of #150GreatPeople in Ottawa, and here he answers the questionnaire:
What makes Ottawa special to you?
It is the youth and other youngsters of this beautiful town which motivate me the most to become a proper role model and mentor. I climb to great heights of spiritual and emotional gratification each time I find myself in a classroom teaching youngsters about Indigenous knowledge through the art of storytelling. I am fully aware that the students of today are the citizens of tomorrow. I feel blessed indeed, to impress upon their young minds, something positive, healthy and good about the ‘Anishinabe’ (my people) of this never surrendered land we all call ‘home’ today.
What do you love most about living and working in Ottawa?
The people I love most live here. My family, friends and many members of my nation (Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg) call Ottawa, if not home, then certainly it is to them, their second home. I am a volunteer and am also recognized as a human rights activist. I feel directed by my spiritual beliefs and by my definition of what humanity is, to do all I can to create a safe and peaceful place for my loved ones to live and prosper in. The open-mindedness and sense of justice of Ottawa’s residents make the work I do easy and far less complicated.
The work that you do helps to make Ottawa a better place – why is this important to you?
I find myself today at 67 years of age, in the winter of my times. Fifty years from now I will be long gone from the physical realm. My hope is that the things of health I contributed to, will still be impacting my descendants and their neighbours in a good way, even that far into the future. If so, I will smile the broad smile of pride in that good place Creator has sent me.
You give back to the Ottawa community in various ways – is there one Ottawa-related achievement of which you are most proud?
When I received the DreamKEEPERS Citation for Outstanding Leadership (2017) at Ottawa City Hall, my heart soared high into the heavens, filled with enormous pride. Leadership is important! I never set out to be a leader and if the community regards me as one, then I’ll do the best I possibly can to be one my fellow citizens will be proud of. There is a vast difference between what defines common sense and what is nonsense, a leader quickly figures it out. A leader gives purpose to his or her life. This is what I will teach my grandchildren.
What do you hope for Ottawa in the future?
That Ottawa will always be the city it is today. A place where everyone from the cab drivers to the Prime Minister, to the kitchen help in a greasy spoon, to the executives of high tech company, all of us living well and being respectful of each other’s right to exist. The heart of Ottawa is big and strong. It endures and it will survive, of this there is no doubt in my mind.