When you meet Edna and Sky Johnson, it’s obvious the two share a very close bond.
“She’s my mom. I just love her,” said Sky, who was adopted by her great aunt Edna and great uncle Ken, when she was just three months old.
Edna said just prior to adopting Sky, she was feeling like an empty-nester after the couple’s sons Blair, Grant and Kendall had left the family home at Esk’etemc. Then Sky came along.
“She fulfilled my life,” said Edna of raising Sky. “I always wanted a daughter. Then three years later her brother came along and we’re raising him too. It was meant to be.”
Edna said they raise Sky, 15, and Lucas, 12, with lots of love, encouragement and positive affirmations, as they have with many foster children they have cared for.
This year Sky was chosen, along with Tyson Michel, to serve as one of two Indigenous Role Models for School District 27 after she was encouraged to apply by previous role models.
“I was really proud of her. I cried when I heard,” Edna said of when Sky was named for the role.
Since then, she has noticed Sky has become more outgoing and more outspoken since assuming the role.
“She’s just awesome.”
While Edna didn’t go to residential school herself as a child at Halfway River First Nation, she admits she did have similar experiences growing up. On National Day for Truth and Reconciliation she tries to support survivors and listen to their stories. She also encourages Sky to do the same.
“And I always tell her, ‘don’t be afraid to ask questions.’”
A pow wow dancer since she was little, Sky has happily attended and danced at several pow wows in her SD27 role.
“I love being with family, I love dancing and I love watching the dancers,” said Sky of pow wows.
Sky is culturally oriented and believes in traditional ceremonies. She learned to gather medicine and berries from her great grandmother and to hunt and fish in the traditional ways from her brothers. She gives thanks to her family for teaching her to be a respectful young woman and supporting her in everything she does.
“I love representing who I am and where I come from. I’m not ashamed to be Indigenous,” she noted in her application. “As Role Model, I will wear the crown with pride, and I will speak with confidence.”
In Grade 10 now, Sky would like to go to university or college right after high school, and also travel.
She is looking forward to being a part of ceremonies for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and believes the show of support from the non-Indigenous community makes a positive difference for her people.
“It’s pretty awesome how everyone is wearing orange shirts in support.”
She also credits her mom with her achievements in life so far.
“Without my mom, I probably wouldn’t be a role model,” said Sky.