By Paula E. Kirman
Barbara Dumigan Jackson was recognized for her resilience, courage and service to others with a Fearless Woman Award on March 10 at the Fearless Women Summit in Edmonton. Her category was Helping Others.
The award is organized by the One Woman organization, a global social enterprise with a mission to help women and girls live their dreams and reach their full potential through education and entrepreneurship.
The Fearless Women Award recognizes women who have overcome life's challenges to step into greatness, and who are using her gifts to serve or inspire others.
Jackson, whose roots are in Saddle Lake Cree Nation and Whitefish Lake First Nation, was one of eight women in Edmonton selected.
“It was such a humbling experience to receive this award while being recognized for helping others in our community from the kindness of my heart,” Jackson told Windspeaker.com.
“The work I do for others and our youth is never for recognition in any way. I help others and youth because it’s always been a part of who I am as a person.”
Overcoming adversity is something Jackson knows well. She lost her brother and several close friends to suicide over the past decade, and last year her father died of cancer.
At the same time, she has been raising three children and pursuing her education. She recently completed her Bachelor of Education degree from King's University in Edmonton and is a youth and childcare worker who has worked with high risk Indigenous youth for more than three years.
During this time she has also worked with Indigenous and non -Indigenous youth in the summer facilitating and teaching them about Indigenous culture, traditions, arts, crafts, and traditional games with the City of Edmonton.
“My goal and mission in life is to reach out to our Indigenous communities and promote health, wellness, fitness, nutrition, education, Indigenous knowledge, and teachings while being an advocate for the rights of our Indigenous people,” Jackson said, adding she also seeks to “raise awareness against suicide, continue to help at-risk youth, raise awareness for mental health/addictions, domestic violence, and violence in general.”
Jackson also organizes several annual non-profit events such as Making Strides to Help Save Lives, the Walking to End Violence Charity Fashion Show, Homeless Dreams Awareness Run, and the You"R"loved Campaign which raises awareness for suicide prevention that she created with her daughter Kiya Bruno.
She is an ambassador for the Blue Dot Movement for the David Suzuki Foundation, encouraging safe and healthy communities.
In addition, she is a board member for The Keepers of the Water for Athabasca, which consists of First Nations, Métis, Inuit, environmental groups, and watershed citizens working together for the protection of water, land, and air in the Athabasca River Watershed.
Most of all, Jackson wants to encourage Indigenous women to overcome obstacles and accomplish their dreams. “I want Indigenous women to know that there is a way out of whatever you may be going through. Know you are never alone. There are people who care that are willing to help. There are resources and programs that can assist you when you are in need or in crisis. I want to encourage women to make positive healthy choices, so they can contribute and work towards healing their communities and self.”