It may only be their names that appear on their respective awards, but Tom Crane Bear and Madeleine Keteskwew Dion Stout are both adamant that they didn’t win their National Aboriginal Achievement Awards on their own.
“It takes many to win for one but it also takes one to win for many,” Dion Stout said. “Many, many people, individuals, colleagues, and friends helped to elevate me to that award. It’s just me who won, but they won, too.”
Crane Bear and Dion Stout, both hailing from Alberta, were among 14 people recognized for their work in the latest round of National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation.
Dion Stout took the Health award. She recalled being on the NAAF board 17 years ago when the award was first handed out.
“I thought it was such a wonderful award. I personally coveted that award,” she said.
Dion Stout was born and raised on Kehewin First Nation. She has Cree relatives in Saddle Lake and Hobbema. She nursed in Piikani and knows Blackfoot people in Kainai as well. She graduated as a registered nurse in 1968 but returned to school to complete a Bachelor of Nursing with Distinction. She also has her masters degree in international affairs. Later, she was presented with an honourary doctorate from the University of British Columbia. She has served on numerous government and non-governmental boards and committees.
“I was very, very touched to receive the award,” said Dion Stout.
Crane Bear, from the Siksika First Nation, was presented with the Culture, Heritage and Spirituality award.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “There are a few things that are outstanding in my life. This one was the most outstanding.”
Crane Bear’s life is a walk in spirituality. He was a “drunk and a tramp on the streets,” he said. “I was asking for help spiritually and was able to achieve reality and sobriety.” He knows all too well many others who were not able to make the break.
“I’m not the only one to be acknowledged. There were Elders who worked with me during my recovery,” said Crane Bear.
Today, Crane Bear provides spiritual services in prisons in Alberta and Ontario and works for Aboriginal counseling services.
Being Aboriginal and being recognized are important to both Dion Stout and Crane Bear.
“For centuries and after the European contact, Indians were never recognized for their work and for doing good things. They only thing they were recognized for was for being a bad people. This award recognizes people across Canada with Native ancestry,” said Crane Bear.
“These awards are a way to marvel at one and another and I don’t just mean the winners,” said Dion Stout. “It’s not just because you’re extraordinary among ordinary people. It’s because you’re ordinary among extraordinary people.”
Crane Bear and Dion Stout, along with the other NAAA recipients, were officially recognized in a celebration March 26 in Regina.