Living History with Dawn Kostelnik

I would like to introduce this wonderful woman I met, Dawn Kostelnik, she has led a life of great adventures. I think you will enjoy her stories from childhood,of places she has been and people she has met. Her living history is an insightful look into who Dawn Kostelnik is. I would like to introduce this great lady so you can enjoy living history through her.

Dawn Kostelnik

I have always liked to write. It was never a chore for me to write little girl letters to my paternal grandparents,so far away to the south, I missed them terribly , still do.

As a little girl I followed my family far, far north to the land of Dhe Cho, the mighty Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories in Canada. It is the land of the Dene, the people of the river. I am the White Girl, Moola Sha or Moola twa or Moola tu we, in the language of Northern Slavey. I was the only White Girl in school or of school age in the villages on the Mackenzie River where we lived.

The first village we moved to was Fort Norman, located 200 kilometers south from the Arctic Circle. This community was predominately Catholic and had  a population of about 275 people. My father was an Indian Agent,one of the last Indian Agents in Canada. His title changed to Area Administrator when we moved to Fort Good Hope, 35 kilometers South of the Arctic Circle. When we left for the Arctic Ocean and  the land of the Inuit, “the Eaters of Raw Meat.”

I learned about being different at a very young age. I believe that prejudice is not about skin color, it is about difference, it is about minority. Insecurity and meanness can be cultivated in the hearts of people of any color. What a horrible disability to pass along to children. I learned to fight. The stories about this time are called the White Girl; they are living history, as the people I write about are mostly still alive.It’s tough to do this; they can call you up and tell you to smarten up!

We moved to Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory in Canada when I was sixteen years old. The Yukon is next door to Alaska. I am very excited about this move; I thought that I would finally fit in, no longer being a minority. In this very “civilized” and modern city with a majority of white people I now learn that I am a white Indian. I talk funny and haven’t learned to have “two faces”. How can you tell who your friends are ? It is total confusion.

I went to University; it took four years of University English to smooth out my northern accent. It returns to my tongue like a song when I encounter River people or I am feeling a little lazy. I have now learned that what people tell you is not always the truth. That being responsible for your actions has to be your own mantra and that others can follow a different path. I learned how to be responsible from living in a small village where everyone knows you and knows what you do everyday. You can’t escape yourself; you have to be accountable for your actions. Anonymity by population and technology allow people to hide from their actions and not be accountable. How strange ? Why would you do something that you did not want to stand behind ?

I raised my two children by myself. Sometimes there wasn’t a lot to eat. They have turned out exceptional in spite of me, I am so very proud of them. My son Bob is 31 and Kait my daughter is 28, I am to be a grandmother in February 2014. I live in a partial log house in the Boreal Forest on the edge of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

In 2006, I ran away from home ( with my kids blessing) and went to live on a old, 54′  1948 wooden boat with a sweetheart from my youth. It was so damned romantic ! These stories are called the Adventures of the Audrey Eleanor and are the beginning of my writing career.

In 2008 I approached two of our local papers with my stories. Both were interested, but one had concerns about exactly where they could fit me in. I decided I would like to work with the Whitehorse Star a local paper that has been serving Yukon and Alaska for over a 100 years. They knew exactly how to fit me in; I must belong, because I am still there .

I have been writing a bi- monthly full page column for them since 2008. My one time shot with The Adventures of Audrey Eleanor would continue today if I let it, I thought it was best to leave while I was on top. I ended that series in January of 2011  but still have the occasional special guest when the Audrey Eleanor gets herself into yet another fix.

January 2011 was the launch of The White Girl; it will continue in the Fall of 2013 at the Whitehorse Star and end shortly into the winter. I am onto another project. I take the summers off. In the North everyone is far too busy trying to cram a total summer into two months to read the paper, and I get burnt out.

I will be submitting my stories to the Northern Journal (http://norj.ca/) which is based out of Fort Smith, NT., in the fall of 2013 as well. These stories will finally be accessible to the people whom they are about. Many of the elders in the communities in Northern Canada do use computers or the Internet . I am plugging a local radio station in Yellowknife NT.,CKLB to do a bi- monthly reading of the stories so that the people who can’t read will also have access to the stories. I have done one live interview, but no bites on the readings as of yet.

My Captain and Sweetheart, Ric Cousins and I will be taking a 33′  C&C sailboat named the Starduster down the inside passage at the end of July 2013. We swapped our grand old lady the Audrey Eleanor for the Starduster , now we need to learn how to sail.Expect by the time we reach the Sunshine Coast of B.C. we will know a bit about it.

You can follow this “adventure”on my Facebook page Dawn Kostelnik Writer (https://www.facebook.com/www.thewhitegirl.ca). I also have a website , (http://www.thewhitegirl.ca ), that contains  pictures and some true northern music and dance, I hope you like it.

Thank you to Lenora Rogers for her interest in my life. To all of you, Mashi Dwai (thank you very much) my friends, see you soon.

Sincerely,

Dawn Kostelnik, the White Girl

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