Jodi Bremner

Leadership and Learning: Jodi Bremner Mentors Métis Women Reaching For the Sky

“I don't know why, but I do like social work. It becomes ingrained in who you are, the way you think,” says Jodi Bremner. She is a Métis woman who lives near Nelson BC and works with Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak, a national Métis women’s organization which is based in Ottawa. She’s a leadership mentor for the latest leadership program called Reach for the Sky.  

It’s a pilot project including online education developed by the University of Alberta. The program covers Métis women’s history and delves into historical and cultural learning. It also includes courses through University of Athabasca, job shadowing and mentorship. Her role is to work with participants as they decide where they want to go. With a week-long in-person cultural training and job placements, there are many learning opportunities for participants. 

Bremner has been working with the organization for only a short time after running her own retail store for a few years. She’s in the process of closing the business because it takes more time than she has available. Through MNBC, she’s been able to do some business training and a UBC Sauder course. Outside of her business education, she has a degree in social work and worked in kinship and also in mental health and addictions, one of her major passions.

Growing up, Bremner didn’t have a lot of exposure to her culture but knew early on she was Métis. WIth her kids getting older, she’s been researching her cultural history more and wanting to get more involved with her community. Over the course of her career as a busy mom, she’s had to take work as it came up but this new job is one she’s very excited for. 

Over the past couple years, Bremner had been thinking about going to school to get a masters degree and study Métis women’s history. She’s been wondering what to do with the rest of her life, knowing at 44 she isn’t getting any younger. After getting more involved with Métis programming and with daughters going to university and curious about their history, she saw a job posted on Facebook and decided to apply. Her business was doing well and making money, growing even through the pandemic, but she thought it might be interesting work. She ended up getting the job. 

Illustration by Shaikara David

In high school, Bremner wanted to be a cultural anthropologist but was concerned about finding work and hadn’t really considered the research aspects. She decided she wanted to pursue something that interested her more and coming from a family that has had intergenerational trauma, she was drawn to social work. In her early twenties, after working for a few years, she applied to go back to university at Okanagan University College. From there, she went onto Nicola Valley Institute of Technology to get her Bachelor of Social Work with an Indigenous focus. She and her partner moved to Merrit and she completed her practicum at the Coldwater Indian Band. “I would totally recommend doing something like that if you're going to go into social work,” she suggests. 

After graduation, she was asked to stay on at her practicum site but she felt she was too new and it wasn’t the right time. She ended up working with people whose chronic mental health conditions impact their daily living, something that spoke to her given her family history of schizophrenia and suicide. she muses.

These days she’s busy with work and doesn’t get out much but her kids inspire her, as do the program participants she’s interviewed. “Every one of them wanted to know more about who they were and learn that. They are all really strong women in the making who want to become leaders,” she beams. Her daughter heading off to university got her thinking about school, too, and lit a spark in her to learn more.

To take care of herself, she spends time outside hiking and going for walks. She loves reading, learning and researching, as well as visiting with friends and family.  A few months ago she started listening to podcasts, having discovered the joy of listening to them while painting her home. 

If she could give advice to her younger self, she’s not sure she would. “My path could have been different. I could have done different things. I don't regret anything that I've done in the past, the way that my life has gone,” she reflects. “Now that my kids are 17, and 14, I feel like finally I can do the things that I maybe wanted to do back then that I didn't even know I wanted to do,” she continues. 

“Education is very important. It's not the most important, but it is important.”

When it comes to younger people, she would want to say, “Explore. Do things that scare you, because as life creeps up on you, and your responsibilities come, you don't have that same ability to do the things that you might want to do when you're younger. Also, go to school if you want to. Just do it.” Whether it’s to learn how to set up a business or pursue a trade, getting an education is something Bremner encourages. “It's the way of the future and the way to grow,” she asserts. 

Social work became ingrained in who she is and how she thinks and now she’s on a journey that helps Métis women thrive. After raising her kids, she’s nurturing aspiring leaders and following a path her heart wanted all along. From wanting to study Métis women’s history to now helping Métis women make history, she’s leaning into her culture and learning lessons along the way. 

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
    Métis
    ,
    ,
  • Province/Territory
    British Columbia
  • Date
    February 21, 2024
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  • Discussion Guide
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