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Mixed Marriages

A lot of the news you hear every day in Thunder Bay has to do with the relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. From land claims to anti-racism efforts, it's a very public discussion. But for mixed-race couples, it's also a private conversation. Here are their stories. (Photos by Adrienne Fox)

(Click the names below to jump to a story):

Bryan and Anna

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They met on a canoe a trip on the Severn River. Bryan was one of only two non-Aboriginal participants. But the trip was a way for Anna to get back to the experiences of growing up on the land in Kithchenuhmaykoosib, so she wasn't about to speak English just to make the 'white' guy feel welcome. Towards the end of the trip, Bryan melted the sole of his shoe by the camp fire. Anna was the one who noticed. The duct tape he used to fix it made an impression. Soon they were talking, then dating. Bryan says he feels like a welcome part of Anna's family, even after he put his father-in-law's snowmobile through the ice.
 
 

Chris and Sarah

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They met through a mutual friend. And started dating more than a year ago. Chris grew up in Southern Ontario where multiculturalism is a norm. It wasn't until he moved north that he began to see the effects of racism. But it hasn't changed how he sees Sarah. Sarah says Chris has taught her a lot about Indigenous issues through his work with a First Nations organization. And she's reconnecting with her cultural roots through her post-secondary studies.
 
 

Dave and Michelle

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Michelle and Dave say race plays an important role in their relationship. The pair own and operate Thunderstone Pictures - a film company based in Thunder Bay. Their films take on difficult social issues such as prescription drug abuse. She says it was Dave's passion for social activism that she found appealing. She also finds solace in Dave when issues start to weigh her down. Dave said it was Michelle's beauty that first caught his attention. Then he found her easy to talk. But it was the evening that Michelle played guitar and sang Bonnie Raitt's 'Louise' that cemented his feelings for her.
 
 

Joseph and Serena

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They were high school sweethearts. They used to wait for the bus together. That's when Serena noticed how cute Joseph was. But Joseph noticed Serena long before she noticed him. Because he used to watch her walk across the football field at the high school they attended together. He thought her beautiful. It's been 13 years now. They just celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary December 21. The share a common interest in the environment, and the community. Both are board members of the True North Community Co-operative - that helps market regional foods and handcrafts. Joseph is proud that his four-year-old son knows as much of the language as he does. Serena is grateful for the cultural knowledge Joseph continues to bring into her family's life.