Monday, May 27, 2024

Celebrating Arlene Blanchard-White’s Commitment to Cultural Heritage

By Ryanne McIsaac

Always ready to offer a helping hand, Arlene Blanchard-White was recently awarded College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Community Service Award.

White is a proud L’nu (Mi’kmaq) woman from Shallop Cove and a fierce advocate for preserving the cultural heritage of her community.

“Everyone who knows Arlene describes her as a passionate leader and a huge proponent of growing and preserving indigenous culture in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Heidi Staeben-Simmons, Associate Vice President of Public Affairs and Advancement at CNA.

“Through her work as a ward counsellor with the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation band she’s advanced many issues on behalf of Indigenous women and students and has traveled the province promoting the Mi’kmaq way of life,” she said. “There’s nobody any more committed to improving the community around them than Arlene and she’s a very worthy recipient of this award.”

Recognizing Outstanding Alumni Achievements

Over the years, Blanchard-White has achieved vital milestones, notably securing funding for Indigenous Women in Business on a national committee in 2019. In 2018, she was appointed to the Provincial Advisory Council for the Status of Women.

As a Mi’kmaq Knowledge Sharer, Blanchard-White has conducted numerous Water Ceremonies throughout the province and was the first person to host one in the province’s House of Assembly for the swearing-in ceremony of the Honorable Judy Foote, then Lieutenant Governor.

“Arlene is well-deserving of this community service award because she gives so much to her community. I think that she’s a fantastic person does things for the right reasons. She doesn’t put a price on anything, it’s just who she is and believing and doing things in the old ways, the way that she was taught by many Elders over on the mainland. Our community is so much better for having Arlene in our community,” said Elder Ken “Mutchie” Bennett.

Blanchard-White chaired the Bay St. George Mi’kmaq Cultural Revival Committee, she also volunteered as a Director with the Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Circle of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“I watched my mom volunteer for years with the community church group, it was the lady’s guild, and watched my dad help where he could and it was always instilled in me that you help out where you can,” she said.

A dedicated volunteer she was also, Assistant Chef de Mission for Team Indigenous NL in 2023.

“I think the biggest message I would want to share is that everyone has a gift, so do something that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” she said. “Find what you love and do it and help out where you can, don’t be afraid to ask someone if they need help, don’t be afraid to be polite and respect one another, just be good humans.”

Empowering communities

Reflecting on the true spirit of community service, Blanchard-White offers her motivation.

“I hope that my sharing and my organizing events empower and inspire other people to do the same,” she said. “I think together I contribute just like the many other people that volunteer, we’re making a community and we’re leaving a legacy for the young people that’s coming behind us.”

Despite not doing it for the recognition, she says she is happy to accept her award.

“We all have a little part to play, you don’t do community volunteer work to get an award you just do it just because, so it’s exciting but it’s also humbling and I feel like ‘oh not me I don’t deserve this kind of thing,’ but it’s an honor it truly is an honor.”

For more information or to nominate a CNA alumnus for an Alumni Acclaim Award, visit www.cna.nl.ca/alumni/awards-program.

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Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne is Editor of CNA Currents. Born and raised in Stephenville, NL, Ryanne moved back to Newfoundland after spending 16 years in Calgary, Alberta. Ryanne has a Journalism Diploma from College of the North Atlantic and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cape Breton University. She worked for many years as a reporter and freelance writer. She is happy to be back in her hometown and working for CNA.

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