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8 Tuesday September 22 2015 NORTHERNERS A MEMOIR COLLABORATE PROGRESS COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP WE NEED YOUR HELP Volunteering on one of Wood Buffalos Council appointed Boards and Committees gives you the opportunity to shape the future of our community. Take a seat at the table today rmwb.caBoards NTLC Literacy Week 2015 NWT Wide Ad NJournal.indd 1 2015-09-14 143 PM By DALI CARMICHAEL Growing up Senator Nick Sibbestons mother always told him he would wear a white shirt. She had this idea that if I was educated and went to school that I wouldnt have to work so hard and live the life of a hunter and trapper he said. Those were encour- aging words because its like a mother putting out hope that someday youre going to be somebody someday you could be somebody. The former premier cab- inet minister and MLA re- leased his memoir You Will Wear a White Shirt in Yel- lowknife on Sept. 21. The candid autobiography takes the reader back as far as 1943 - when Sibbeston was born to a single mother in Fort Simp- son - through his experiences in residential school and his resulting healing journey all the way to his time in the Senate. My hope is that every household in the North will have this book if possible he said. I really think theres good information about the way life was in the early years and also the political devel- opment within it. Theres been a lot of changes and I was part of that. I think its a good historical document a good history about the gov- ernment and society in the North. An ongoing education When his mother fell ill with tuberculosis Sibbeston began attending residential schools across the territory starting in Fort Providence and moving to Inuvik Fort SmithandnallyYellowknife. Eachschooladdedanewlayer to his story some positive and formative like his time in Fort Smith while others were much darker. Eventually he headed south to Alberta for univer- sity. After failing out mar- rying his wife Karen and starting a family Sibbeston decided to hit the books again this time driven by the responsibilities of being a husband and father. From there he would take on roles in municipal and territorial government moving his way up the chain while attending law school and becoming one of Canadas rst Indigenous lawyers. Sibbestons journey is a tale of lifelong learning and teaching. As a justice special- ist for the GNWT a public administrator for Deh Cho Health and Social Services and member of the Cana- dian Human Rights tribunal he sought justice for those he represented by teaching incoming judges about the social realities impacting both Indigenous and non- Indigenous peoples. He had worked to address the abuses of residential school which he felt rst hand substance abuse and depression that seemed to be passed through the generations and families like his own divided by ill- ness and circumstance. Everything Ive done every aspect Ive been trying to have people understand I was trying to bridge the gap between the Dene and the social problems and the criminal court system he said. My life in the Legisla- tive Assembly again it wasnt just simply a matter of being there it was really trying to recognizetheDenelanguages and cultures and practices and trying to change a system of practices so it was more accommodating. Eventually Sibbeston him- self caved to his demons. Surrounded by a lifestyle of partying and boozing feel- ing pressure from his career and experiencing depression andPTSDfrompasttraumas he fell into a trap of alcohol- ism and adulterous relation- ships to numb the pressure of being a forward-pushing politician and the pain of his past. Ive had alcohol problems and stuff like that but I went to AA and Adult Children of AlcoholicsandIwentthrough a whole lot of treatment he said. When youre on a heal- ing journey you dont really care what people know be- cause you feel so much bet- ter having taken steps to heal yourself. He credits his recovery to his familys support at- tending ongoing treatment therapies and comforts in the Catholic faith. It was a conscious decision to write the memoir so can- didly Sibbeston said. It really exposes you. I felt wow everybody knows about me now my good parts and some of my bad parts he said. Maybe thats what makes it interesting. Its not just a fairytale story of all the things Ive accomplished. Ive done a lot but its been at a terrible cost. By sharing his trials trib- ulations and successes the senator from the NWT hopes to encourage others to be all they can be especially those intheyoungestdemographic. I would encourage peo- ple to get a good education to really strive Sibbeston said. Theres so many times along the way you could be discouraged and quit so I re- ally encourage young people today to get educated and go all the way right to the very top. Still a sitting senator Sib- beston hinted this year may be his last depending on who wins the upcoming federal election. Senator Nick Sibbeston gets candid in new memoir PhotoLaurieSibbeston Senator Nick Sibbeston released his memoir You Will Wear A White Shirt in Yellowknife Sept. 21.