Public Service (1999)
As a young woman Theresa Stevenson felt hunger and never forgot the pain. The experience – a mother of three, forced to leave Canada for better opportunity in Montana – stayed with the member of the Cowessess First Nation. When the family returned to Saskatchewan, years later, she began to make a difference. Through her husband, Robert, who worked for the City of Regina, Ms. Stevenson heard a local school principal needed help with a problem: Aboriginal kids at his school weren’t going home for lunch and were sitting in classes with empty stomachs in the afternoon. She was inspired into action. She and Robert decided to give them lunch. With no advertising, 20 little boys came. At the next meal, 50 kids arrived, then 100. Chili for Children was born. More than 20 years later, the program for inner-city youth is still a success – thanks to Theresa Stevenson. The founder and longtime executive director of Regina Indian Community Awareness is a true hero. A member of the Order of Canada and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, Ms. Stevenson has also been honoured by the Regina and District Labour Council and was named the 1988 Citizen of the Year by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. She recently visited her grand-daughter’s high school and spoke to students. “At one time I was ashamed of my brown skin, ashamed to be an Indian,” she said. “But today I stand in front of you and I’m very proud as an Indian woman . . . be proud of who you are.” She received a standing ovation. Theresa Stevenson was the 1999 National Aboriginal Achievement Award recipient in the category of Community Development.