Dwayne Donald’s Blackfoot name is Aipioomahkaa, which means long distance runner. His biographical photo on the University of Alberta website, where he is a professor, is one of the best I have ever seen.
Some of us actively working on Make Something Edmonton met with Mr. Donald at a restaurant in December. Luckily, the service was abominable. Our one hour conversation went longer than two hours.
We wanted to test Make Something Edmonton on him, and ask him to be a part of it. He talked about ideas for Make Something Edmonton projects.
There could be celebrations in Rossdale that mix First Nations and newer arrivals to this bend on a river the Cree called Pehonan. What about guided tours through the river valley, highlighting aboriginal stories about the area? What if the Manitou Stone could be returned, in some way, to the First Nations people?
Mr. Donald said something I won’t forget. His dissertation was about métissage, “the braiding of gender, race, language and place.” John Ralston Saul writes about this idea in A Fair Country, declaring that Canada is fundamentally a Métis nation.
In this analysis, few cities would be more Métis than Edmonton. Mr. Donald referenced identity, image, even that unfortunate notion of a city brand.
In Cree and Blackfoot, Mr. Donald said, words like this — about who you are, as a people — aren’t nouns. They’re verbs.
You are what you do. Or, if you like, what you make.