By Daniel Mendoza
OAKVILLE – Jenny Restoule-Mallozzi says that her success in life is not measured by a piece of paper or someone else’s standards – it is being loved and happy.
Having a strong, supportive and loving family along with her community of Dokis First Nation has made her who she is today.
“For me, success is being the best mother, wife, daughter, sister, auntie, friend, and person that I can be,” says the 39 year-old mother of two. “I achieve that success every day.”
“I was very fortunate to be raised in my First Nation where I received a great education, had many wonderful friends, and was surrounded by the land and nature,” says Jenny who is a legal counsel for the Union of Ontario Indians. “My days would be spent playing outside; visiting with friends and family, and seeing the people in the community work and come together almost daily whether it is for celebrations, having fish fries, or making crafts.”
Jenny says that identity and self-esteem are essential for everyone to achieve their goals and to be the people they are meant to be.
“I believe that this is realized by learning who you are through a process of understanding what values are important to you, what your responsibilities are, setting and facing new challenges, learning from your mistakes, and surrounding yourself with people you love and who love you. This is a life-long process that we continuously work towards shaping, defining, and understanding,” says Jenny. “My advice would be that each and every one of us must know that we are beautiful, important, and loved; we all have a purpose. It is essential that we understand that, no matter what challenges we face in life.
Restoule moved away from Dokis at the age of 18 to attend university at McMaster in Hamilton. After she received her undergraduate degree in Political Science, she went on to obtain her law degree at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Her office is located in Oakville and provides legal counsel remotely. She still has very strong attachments to her community – mom is Chief Denise Restoule and dad is Councillor Roger Restoule.
“I visit often and it’s important for me to have my children spend as much time as they can there,” says Jenny.
Her biggest life challenge that she has faced was her brother Barry’s suicide in 2000.
“Barry’s suicide was a sudden and devastating loss to our family that we are still healing from. I was articling (the process of training between law school and being called to the bar as a lawyer) at a large law firm in Toronto when Barry committed suicide. The reaction I faced from the non-First Nation lawyers at the firm, taught me that it was not the place for me and that I needed to work in an environment that accepted me for who I am,” explains Jenny. “We will never overcome Barry’s suicide, but his suicide has taught us to value one another, to live each day to the fullest, and has brought us closer to our culture –my family all received our spirit names and clans after Barry’s death as part of our ceremonies. I also make sure that I share stories about Barry with my children so that they know their uncle and how special he was. Barry’s spirit often visits many of our family members when we need it most.”
She balances her work and family life by ensuring that she respects both professional time and personal time.
“I love my job working for the 39 member First Nations of the Union of Ontario Indians as everyday brings exciting opportunities to work with and for my people. Part of the work challenge is being up-to-date and versed in different areas of the law ranging from Aboriginal and treaty rights, administrative law, lands, corporate/ commercial, employment, litigation, and so forth. This is necessary as our First Nations are multi-dimensional and have a variety of legal realities and issues. It is also important to take vacation time so that I can reconnect with my family and also rejuvenate to return to work.”
“My role models were definitely my family, especially my parents,” says Jenny. “My parents raised my three siblings and me to be proud of who we are, to treat others with respect and kindness, to study and work hard, and to achieve our goals. My parents were always working hard and setting good examples for us to ensure that we had a better life. My grandparents Albert and Kathleen Restoule and all my aunties and uncles, who are all successful in their respective fields, were also instrumental in instilling these qualities in me as well. We are a very close family.”