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Strong Women - Pam Palmater

Pam Palmater's family roots


Palmater’s family roots are in the Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick, where her great grandfather was one of the first chiefs. As a young girl she remembers living on social assistance, but was never too keenly aware of poverty. The seed for her activism was planted watching her older siblings, eight sisters and three brothers, get out and advocate for their community’s rights.

“They were staunch political activists, protesters,” she says, “They didn’t have a formal education, but they knew that what was happening in our communities was wrong. They made it their mission to never take for granted their identity and that whether we were inside or outside, there was always something we could do.”

Palmater recalls being hauled everywhere with them and all of this exposure during childhood left a strong impression on her. “The message was constantly ‘Whether I’m benefitting personally or not, I have an obligation to the Nation to protect its people and right now the women and children are under attack so we have to do something about it’,” she says.

She raised two boys as a single mother, which is also no small feat on its own. Although activism had played a large role in her life, she pinpoints the birth of her first son as the moment when she realized that time was running short.

“When my son was born I realized, oh my gosh, I was doing all that to make life better for the future generations and the future generation just landed in my lap,” she says, “I felt like I just had to get all the information I possibly could, do whatever I could and really live up to that obligation in a really meaningful way because every year that passed, meant I had one year less to change the future for my kids.”


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