Janie Jamieson and family.

By Tom Keefer

SIX NATIONS – Janie Jamieson is well known on the Territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River. She was one of the three women that initiated the reclamation of the Douglas Creek Estates (now known as Kanonhstaton) and was a prominent spokesperson throughout the conflict. Along with her public role on the front lines of Onkwehon:we land defence, Janie is also known for the community initiatives she threw herself into following the tragic suicide of her 12 year old daughter Gahwediyo or Jewel Monture.

Jewel was a bright light in the Six Nations community. As a young girl she took pride in Onkwehon:we ways and culture and excelled at almost any activity she put her efforts into. By age 11, Jewel was an accomplished dancer in both western and traditional Onkwehon:we dance styles. She was also a model, actor, and sports player. Tragically, Jewel became a target of abuse and online bullying by jealous peers and manipulative adults. After suffering months of harassment and abuse, and with police and school authorities failing to take action despite frequent intercessions from her mother, Jewel took her own life at the tender age of 12 on November 12th, 2010.

Completely devastated by her daughter’s suicide, Janie Jamieson found solace in helping other youth. One of the initiatives that she launched in order to honour Jewel’s legacy was called Diyo’s Closet, an organization which receives and stores formal wear clothing to provide to young indigenous people for formal occasions.

As Janie notes: “It’s been a pretty long hard struggle and throughout it all, I think the greatest joy that I have besides my sons I have left, is is giving back and doing what I can. there’s so many battles that I don’t post on Facebook, the only people that know about it are my close family and I.” Throughout her various efforts to support her community, Janie has always brought a strong and proud Onkwehon:we perspective to her work.

In speaking about Jewel’s life and her many accomplishments Janie foregrounds the many ways in which Onkwehon:we youth continue to suffer from privation and the continuing genocidal effects of Canadian colonialism. Janie’s words and experiences are not for the weak of heart, but the courage and pain that she shares is universal to humanity.

Over the past year a new organization has emerged to support and continue the efforts that Janie established in Jewel’s memory. Called “Jewel’s Cause,” the non-profit organization was created by Oneida woman Donna Keuhl who is also involved in the group Oneida Circle. The aim of the organization is to empower and educate Indigenous youth in combatting abuse and bullying.

Donna Keuhl was greatly moved by hearing about Jewel’s story, and feels that Jewel’s spirit has helped to guide her “in the organization and development of Oneida Circle and Jewel’s Cause.” According to Oneida Circle’s website it will:

offer an annual calendar of Youth Programs that will help Inspire, Educate and Empower our members: with self-esteem and confidence building, anti-bullying, suicide education and awareness, fashion, creative arts, music and mentoring. Members completing three of our workshops will be eligible to participate in our annual showcase Promella and will be eligible to win annual scholarships in Jewel’s memory. Promella is a annual Fashion and Trade Showcase, catering to everything Prom, Grad and Teen related. Oneida Circle’s program Jewel’s Cause will annually hold a Prom/Grad Attire event for all. Our goal for our first annual event is to help 100 youths with our Look Good Feel Amazing Event. Jewel’s Cause will be held annually and provide applicants with all the donated items they need for Prom/Grad: attire, shoes, accessories, makeup, hair, etc. and each member will receive a bursary to help them with any other needs for their special day.”

The Oneida Circle’s first major event is termed Akweni ki or “I can do it” and will be Brampton’s first Indigenous Festival and Pow Wow, and is taking place on Saturday, September 24th, 2016 from 10am to 7pm at the Brampton Fairgrounds in Caledon. The cost of entry is a $10 donation and is free to youth and children under 12.

The event will include a traditional pow wow, a “multicultural performers showcase, a marketplace with over 100 vendors, a traditional foods food festival and a Gala dinner and dance from 7pm to 1am.

The days activities will all be held at the Brampton Fairgrounds at 12942 Heart Lake Road in Caledon, Ontario, L7G 2J3. Potential sponsors and vendors should apply to info@oneidacircle.org or call 416-743-2233 x234 for more information.