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Dr. Mayer is a Métis scholar, activist, and poet born at The Pas Manitoba to Dora Lavallee and Narcisse Mayer. Her roots stem from the French and Cree Nations. Her maternal grandparents Moise Lavallee and Marie Ducharme originally from St Ambrose and St Laurent MB went north and founded the Metis community of Pine Bluff Manitoba 1 along with one of Moise’s cousins. A cairn has now been erected to honour their memory. Lorraine’s mother was raised at Pine Bluff until flooding for hydroelectric development forced the relocation of this small Metis community to the Pas and nearby Chemawawin Reserve. Lorraine’s ancestry has a long history in Canada tracing back to the first Lavallee, Ducharme and Meilleur, to enter the country from France and the Cree women they married, to the ancestors from Grantown [now known as St Francis Xavier]. Although raised in the city of Winnipeg Lorraine continually found ways to go north. In grade eleven she moved to St Ambrose for a year and later as a young mother she relocated to the Pas. The death of her youngest child precipitated a move back to the city. After years struggle, heartache and loss she returned to school and successfully earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1993, flowed by an Honors Bachelor of Arts in 1995. In 1996 she started a Master’s Degree from Lakehead University. In 1997 she was the first person in Canada to receive a Master’s degree in Canadian Native Philosophy before moving to Oregon where she completed a doctorate degree in Philosophy from the University of Oregon. While working toward her degree she became an active member the Native Student Union and an Adjunct faculty member for the Department of International Studies. In addition, she held the position of Assistant Director for the Center for Cultural for Indigenous Cultural which led to her participating in a three month cross cultural educational tour in Hanoi Vietnam. Since then she has devoted her time and energy into creating awareness for Indigenous cultural survival. Lorraine’s motivation for research centers on cultural survival and how to bring people together in mutual respect and dialogue. Her academic research primarily involves the philosophical analysis of human perceptions and cross-cultural interactions, particularly how they affect Aboriginal women’s lives. She has presented widely at universities in both Canada and the US.
Throughout the 1800s the Metis of Fond du Lac (now St. Laurent) used the entire Interlake region of Manitoba for their hunting trapping and fishing economy. They utilized the Duck Bay area extensively and travelled from there to the muskrat marshes just east of The Pas, Manitoba (part of the Territory of Keewatin at that time). This Pine Bluff camping site appears as a named site on a map in 1884. Around 1910, some of these Metis families decided to permanently settle at Pine Bluff, 50 miles southeast of The Pas along the Saskatchewan River. This gave them easy access to the resources of the Summerberry Marsh and the trapping areas right down to Grand Rapids on the Saskatchewan River. It is reported that the Metis had a fine sturgeon fishery on Cedar Lake. This high ground was also a stopping point when travelling between the Pas and Cedar Lake. The family names common to Pine Bluff were, Campbell, Chaboyer, Chartrand, Ducharme, Nabess, Azure, Lambert, Bourgoise, Lagimodiere, Beauchamp and Lavallee. The community had a small school from 1938 to 1942. The building of the Grand Rapids Dam meant the demise of this community since the flooding destroyed the fishery and trapping along the river and Cedar Lake. Many Metis lost both their fishing nets and all of their traps when the forebay flooding began. The Metis had never received title to their land because the province refused to survey that area.
Lorraine returned to Canada in 2004 and took a teaching position at Brandon University as an Assistant Professor in Native Studies. She advanced quickly achieving both tenure and promotion in three years. She is currently an Associate professor at Brandon University where she holds the positions of Chair of Native Studies and editor for the Canadian Journal of Native Studies. Since returning to Canada she has actively pursued her belief in cultural survival work beginning with her support of the Metis women of the Southwest Region. Since 2007 she has been the chairperson for a Southwest Region Metis Women where she promotes cultural activities as well as political endeavors. She loves teaching women the art of the Flower people [beadwork]. Knowing first hand how difficult a university education can be with personal, financial and emotional trials that many Metis students face, she decided to honor those struggles by initiating a cultural Metis Student Graduation ceremony to honor Metis student’s successes at both Brandon University and Assiniboine College. Together with the Metis women of the South West Region they have been celebrating with Metis Students since 2007. She is proud to be Metis and promotes Metis Culture whenever possible including participating yearly with at Metis Pavilion for the Lieutenant Governors Festival in Brandon, to demonstrating/teaching beading at Grand Valley local’s yearly Metis fest, and accepts numerous invitations to speak at high schools and grade schools within southern Manitoba. Mayer contributed two poems to the recent 2011 anthology Manitowapow (James Sinclair and Warren Carriou (Eds.).2 She is the recipient of a number of awards including: 2004 – The University of Oregon Office of International Programs. International Service Award for outstanding leadership and lasting contribution to the University of Oregon international community. 2002 – Who’s Who Among Students In American Universities and Colleges. An award for outstanding student leaders, based on above average academic standing, community service, leadership ability and potential for continued success. 2001 – Graduate Student Award, University Of Oregon Awards. Graduate students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and service. 2001 – Excellence Award. The University of Oregon Office of Multicultural Affairs. Academic Achievement, Community Involvement and Leadership Skills. 1999 - Laurel research Award. Center for Studies of Women on Society University of Oregon. 1999 – Excellence Award. The University of Oregon Office of Multicultural Affairs, Academic Achievement, Community Involvement and Leadership Skills. 1998 – 1999 Fighting Fund Fellowship, University of Oregon. 1997 – 1998 Fighting Fund Fellowship, University of Oregon. She was a nominee for the Young Women’s Christian Association’s 2008 Women of Distinction Award. Brandon Manitoba. Her academic successes include her first book: Cries From A Métis Heart (Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications Inc., 2007) and a second book currently under contract with Oxford Press titled:
Lorraine Mayer. “Scrip” and « À la façon du pays. » In Manitowapow, James Sinclair and Warren Carriou (Eds.) Winnipeg: Highwater Press, 2011: 267-270.
Philosophy and Aboriginal Rights: Critical Dialogues which she is co-editing with fellow philosopher and long time friend, Sandra Tomsons. She has published chapters in two books: “The Survival of Métis Women: Through Poetry” in Métis Histories and Identities: A Tribute to Gabriel Dumont , Denis Gagnon, Denis Combet & Lise Gaboury-Diallo (eds.) St. Boniface: Presses Universitaires de Saint-Boniface, 2009 and a chapter titled “Negotiating a Different Terrain: Geographical and Education Cross-Border Difficulties,” In Across Cultures Across Borders: Canadian Aboriginal and Native American Literatures, edited by Paul DePasquale, Emma LaRocque and Renata Eigenbrod, 2010. Her academic articles include: “Whose Sovereignty Are We Talking About” Philosophy and Aboriginal Rights: Critical Dialogues. Co-editors: Sandra Tomsons and Lorraine Mayer. Forthcoming 2010, Oxford University Press. “What Happened at Lakehead: The dilemma of Racism, Corruption or Incompetence?” Forthcoming American Philosophical Association Newsletter, American Indians in Philosophy Vol. 08, Number 1 “Aboriginal Women and Education: Overcoming a Legacy of Abuse” Vol., 26, 2007 The Canadian Journal of Native Studies. “Return to Reciprocity”: Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy Vol. 22.3, Summer 2007. “Reflections on Vine Deloria Jr.” American Philosophical Association Newsletter, American Indians in Philosophy Fall 2006, Vol. 06, Number 1. “Phonicating Mother Earth”: A Critique of David Abram’s Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. Lorraine F. Brundige (Mayer) and J. Douglas Rabb. Ayaangwamizin: The International Journal of Indigenous Philosophy. Vol. 2, Number 1 winter 1998. pp. 79 – 98. “Ungrateful Indian”: Continuity of Native Values. Ayaangwamizin the International Journal of Indigenous Philosophy. Vol. 1, Number 1 spring 1997. pp 44-54. “Visiting Scholars pursue issues in Native Philosophy” Agora: Newsletter for Lakehead University Staff and Faculty. February 1997, Vol.14, No. 2. Her poetry publications include: “My Symposium”: American Philosophical Association Newsletter, American Indians in Philosophy Vol. 07, Number 1 “Mama Don’t Cry For Me: Butterfly Editions, Eugene Oregon. 2001 From Cries from a Metis Heart: “My Sister Do You Remember”, “Scrip”, Hey Metis Man” eclectic: the Arts Edition” 2009. Brandon University. Her published Book Reviews include:
All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life. By Winona La Duke. In, Organization & Environment. Vol. 13, Issue 2, June 2000. Women of The First Nations: Power, Wisdom and Strength. Eds. Christine Miller and Patricia Churchryk with Marie Smallface Marule, Brenda Manyfingers, and Cheryl Deering. In Manitoba History, Autumn, Number 34, 1997. She is currently researching and writing two manuscripts: “Tansi taisinisitohtamáhk kitaskino: Cree Philosophy awa Kayáskiyácimowin” (Translation: How We Understand Our World: Cree Philosophy and History) for SUNY Press, and “Manitoba’s Heroines: Metis Women’s Stories of Courage Strength and Determination.”
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