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Alice MancheeseMy children suffered, but they ate

Alice Mancheese is a Community Health Representative (CHR) in the Ebb and Flow First Nation community where she lives. In May 2001 Alice was honoured for her work when she won the Manitoba Association of Registered Nurses Community Caring Award. Besides caring for her community Alice has been active in organizing Community Health Representatives to demand fair pay. In July 2001 Alice went to Vancouver to accept another award, this time from the National Indian and Inuit Community Health Representatives Organization. Alice is 62 years old and has seven children and more than 20 grandchildren.

Alice says:

What I knew is that my children were hungry before I started work. That was my main thing, just to put food on the table for my children so my children ate good after that...I love them and neglected a lot of them because I had to work...they suffered a lot because I had to leave...we had refresher courses and all of that so I went and I left them again...my baby Leah, she's a big baby now, she's 33, she wasn't a year when I started work...I've got a picture of her someplace four years old frying her own egg...

Men...they don't have to cook for the children and all that before they leave, that's what they don't understand, hopefully they will before I quit...I told them already I don't think they know how much a woman has to do, even a simple thing as going someplace...

As a community aid I worked 24 hours a day for $70 a month... Every time when a job had to be done on the reserve 'Ah yes, the CHRs will do it'...we were gophers, it doesn't matter what it is...everything, the CHRs will do it...

I'd get up and go to the people...somebody with a nosebleed it wouldn't stop, I'd go over and teach them...in them days...not too many phones around...I'd go to Bingo...during intermission time I'd run, tell the people that they have an appointment, your baby needs a needle...

There used to be a lot of sniffing. The sniffers would be out someplace, like outside the house unconscious, they would call me...what I used to do was...take pictures of them, the vomit, wetting their pants...and after they were ok...I would show them[the pictures]. I don't know if that's what stopped them...I'm not saying I stopped it but that must have helped some...

My motto is do a good deed for somebody once a day...my work is not good deeds but outside because I'm getting paid for it, that's how I see it, something you do, not get paid for...

Was it last year that I got the special dinner? Nobody's ever said anything before...all of a sudden there was this special dinner...the past year I heard a lot of thank yous...this old man...every time I'd leave he'd say, "Alice, Thank you, Megwetch" and that's strange and very nice to hear...I was surprised and I felt so good...

I can't explain but I know that still here...or other places too in the reserves, I find that the men are more powerful, we don't have as much power as they have, we're not equal.

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