Master Corporal Windy Lafreniere – Reclaiming her Indigenous identity is a family affair


MCpl Windy Lafreniere and her family. Photo Courtesy of MCpl Windy Lafreniere.


Holly Bridges
Royal Canadian Air Force

M Cpl Windy Lafreniere is a member of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne along the St. Lawrence River. She was put into foster care at birth to a non-Indigenous family and never really knew her birth parents or siblings. She later discovered she had 12 brothers and four sisters.

She met her birth parents when she was a teenager, but they both passed away shortly afterwards. She lived with various foster parents until the age of eight when she met the Kinsellas, with whom she would remain with until aging out of foster care at 18, and who remain her parents today.

“I owe huge thanks to the Kinsellas for me becoming the driven person I am today. If not for their love and support I would not be who I am today.”

She is a Mobile Support Equipment Operator for the Royal Canadian Air Force  at 16 Wing and Military Co-Chair of the CFB Borden Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group.

Now, MCpl Lafreniere is on a journey to discover more about her Indigenous connections and to instill a strong sense of identity, culture, and pride in her three children.

“As my husband is Algonquin and I’m Mohawk, all of my kids recently got their status cards so they are super excited. We have tried to teach our children about their roots as we ourselves learn about them as well. My daughter was chosen by our elders at a very young age to become a jingle dress dancer (medicine dancer), which is quite an honour.”

Pivotal at 16 Wing

At 16 Wing, MCpl Lafreniere has been instrumental in raising awareness of Indigenous culture and supporting local Indigenous Canadian Armed Forces members and their families. Some of the events she has helped coordinate include sweat lodges, sharing circles, and Indigenous awareness day activities.

She is hoping to continue this work when she gets posted to 8 Wing, which is located close to the Mohawks on the Bay of Quinte, a sister reserve of her birthplace.

“I’ve been Military Co-chair of the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group for the past three years, so I’ve been learning quite a bit. I’m hoping I can get something similar started in Trenton.”

Indigenous Youth Nights

One idea she would like to see implemented is a weekly Indigenous Youth Night led by the local Military Family Resource Centre to help Indigenous members and their families feel more connected and able to celebrate their culture.

As for her family, MCpl Lafreniere is particularly proud of her children who are beginning to understand their roots and celebrate their culture with others.

“My main goal is they learn it and spread it,” she says.

Recently, her children placed teddy bears on their doorstep in memory of the Indigenous children whose remains were found at the former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. The gesture caught on with their neighbours as well.

Strong & Steadfast

If there was every any doubt of MCpl Lafreniere’s commitment to teaching her children about their roots, connecting with her culture, and supporting other Indigenous CAF members, one need only look at the word beside her name on her email signature block, “tekonwatahston,” which means “standing up for my people” in Mohawk.

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