AT HOME IN OHSWÉ:KEN
TWIN SISTERS ON THE
SIX NATIONS FIRE DEPARTMENT
Hanging over the doorway of her mother's home is a sign that reads "Mohawk Sovereignty will never die". These words Teyotsihstokwáthe read every morning as she headed with her sisters to the well to get the day's water. She was raised in a home without running water or electricity; and was sustained by her mother's garden & cornfield, her father's fishing & hunting, her family's sugar maple & blackcap bushes, and her longhouse strawberry fields. As a baby alongside her twin sister Yonenyá:kenht, her mother took her on her first Peacemaker's Journey; the annual pilgrimage of the Haudenosaunee New York homelands that traces the steps of the Peacemaker & Hiawatha; the founders of the Great Iroquois League of Peace. From this time; she was trained to serve her people and live a life that perpetuates Peace within us, around us, and in our relationships with other people.
With an upbringing like this, didn't take much to convince her that happiness and prosperity are in actuality community standards, and cannot be forced by outside sources but are possible through partnership with them. It was at age 17 in 2006 when her home was rocked by the Caledonia Crisis. At this time the historical impacts of decisions & development in the territorial lands of the Mohawk people & the Six Nations made without consultation or consent was made known to the world; she was one of the youngest media members with her own radio show on CKRZ 100.3FM. "I watched my Territory face a summer of uprisings, riots, and misunderstandings.The world around me woke up and discovered a place called Six Nations. Here I was, 17 and wondering what kind of a Six Nations did I want them to discover." This experience made her value the need for a community plan, and how people and perceptions react particularly in times of stress and duress. It was experiences like this, and the social traumas burdening her people that also motivated her to enlist into the Six Nations Fire Department. As a volunteer firefighter, she has served her people in many forms of fire, emergency services & medical assists since 2010.
Teyotsihstokwáthe has traveled to the United Nations, Europe, across North America, the UN World Urban Forum and has seen through her experiences with engaging and creating partnerships across governments, industry, munipalities and Indigenous Communities that community building can be successful, healthy, and everlasting.
Teyotsihstokwáthe has a Master's degree in Indigenous Community Planning and completed a Fellowship at the University of British Columbia's School of Community & Regional Planning [SCARP]. SCARP is dedicated to graduate planning education and research, and the integrated approach to planning for development. Accredited and recognized around the world by the Planning Accreditation Board of the American Institute of Certiﬁed Planners, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning and the Canadian Institute of Planners; SCARP is home to the Centre for Human Settlements, which conducts multidisciplinary research and capacity-building programs related to regional, urban, and community development.
Between her rural upbringing & firefighting career in Six Nations aka "The Bush", and the inner cities of British Columbia's Lower Mainland, Brant has received a lifetime of insight to Indigenous community in all its forms. When Teyotsihstokwáthe was 8 her Aunt Lynda said to her "You are Mohawk; that's all you'll ever need to know". In her adulthood she has understood this to mean that despite the uphill challenges that have filled her peoples history; she can always rely on her identity as a source of strength and the guiding light in her work of bringing integrity to the industry of social planning for Indigenous communities. In 2011 Teyotsihstokwáthe was recognized by Canada's Indigenous leadership and communities as an Indspire Laureate (formerly the National Aboriginal Achievement Award). The Indspire Award is widely considered the highest honour bestowed on an Indigenous achiever, by the Indigenous community in Canada.