By Kelly Anne Smith
NORTH BAY – David Jones’s spirit name set his direction for helping others in life.
He was in North Bay to deliver The Turtle Concept, designed to encourage First Nation youth to come out of their shell and be awesome.
“I think it’s a method to help people connect so that they learn how to connect with their clients and to be real with the connection. There is nothing worse than going to a support worker when they’re disconnected from the truth. And we all learn as we’re growing up to hide the truth sometimes.
My mom was a foster child who was adopted and we have had a wonderful life. She never focused on any negative parts of our upbringing. With her always finding something positive to say, she inspired our family to be awesome individuals.”
Jones has a reputation for bringing out the best in people. “Being Anishnaabe is a big part of who I am and how I got to be who I am and this is how Anishinaabe looks.”
Jones was brought to the city by the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) to conduct a motivational workshop. Team Turtle motivated crown wards the first day in the two-day workshop and then CAS workers, foster parents, and educators the next day.
Manager of Services at the Children’s Aid Society, Nancy Lafrance-Rich is also the Co-chair of the Crown Ward Education Championship Team Committee. Lafrance-Rich explains that there could be 100 to 130 children in care at any given time in the region. Of all the crown wards, 26% are aboriginal. Lafrance-Rich says that number is disproportionally high.
“We did this because in the last few years we’ve really making an effort to give educational opportunities to young people in care. They are more supported in schools now with school champions. And we have established protocols between the agency and the school boards on how we communicate and how we support the youth. We now have a great tutoring program. But opportunities mean nothing if our young people don’t have the confidence.
We know about these kids is that they are brilliant. They are the most artistic and musically inclined. They are smart and articulate but they don’t always believe in themselves. That is why we needed David Jones.”
Turtle is his spirit name. “When the medicine man gave me my name he said people won’t know how to react to you because you are so willing to move forward. Your name will help remind you that some people are not ready for that part of their journey and come out of their shells. So I wish for people to be as crazy and wacko and wild as I can be. My spirit name reminds me to encourage others to take it at their own pace.”
David Jones started the audience with aerobics to get their blood pumping. He told them he likes fun so that’s why he dyes his hair blond. He has his audience laughing with him.
Jones says he is a new aboriginal, one with ADHD. “I’m excited to be brown. I have clip-on blonde braids. Too bad I have to take allergy pills around smudge.”
A citizen of Garden River First Nation, Jones worked hard to become a researcher of Sociology. “My mom was a foster child. Her natural mom died of alcoholism. She was adopted out to her real mother’s best friend’s family. So they were my step family but I didn’t know that. And they were alcoholics too. So Mom spent a lot of the time hiding under the bed because step-gramps was chasing step-grams and he couldn’t handle alcohol.
There is research to suggest that some people can’t handle alcohol. But some people use it to try to handle life.”
By telling stories of people he helped up from poverty, Jones wants people to break out of their stereotypes. The Jones quotes kept coming. “Make your next chapter of your life awesome. Always keep alcohol and drugs away from your story. You don’t have to be where you came from.”
In helping turtles to come out of their shells, Jones says, “Find the safest spot. It is ok to be inside of yourself until it is safe to come out.”