Davene Dunn has worked hard throughout her life and now passes on her past to new generation.

Golden Moments: Taking a voyage back to another place and time

Davene Dunn was the oldest of five children who took the long road to finding her home in Golden.

Davene Dunn was the oldest of five children who took the long road to finding her home in Golden.

Dunn explained that her father was born in England while her mother is of Metis descent.

“My grandmother came to Canada with a fur coat she had. It was very cold in those days on the homestead and the first winter she had to cut up her coat to make mittens and caps for the kids.”

Her ancestors, from the other side of her family,  came from France in the 1600s and moved to Montreal and migrated west. Her family worked as voyageurs for the Hudson Bay Company before moving to Lac La Biche, Alberta.

“When I was six years old my dad moved to Kimberley where he had a mink farm. He loved the land and living off the land. He loved trapping and hunting.”

Dunn took her schooling in Kimberley and eventually applied for a job with a trucking company.

“I enjoyed my time with the company. It was in a time when a woman did not get paid as much as a man for the same job but I was paid well,” she said.

She was preparing  to head out to a major city when a chance meeting with a lawyer changed the direction of her life.

“His secretary was going on a month’s holiday and he asked if I would like to replace her for the month she was gone,” she said. “I took that job and never got out of there. It was interesting and exciting.”

She explained the time working for the lawyer was challenging for her.

“He did murder cases and specialized in divorces. I would go out and interview the clients. He pushed me and made me learn,” he said.

It was the lawyer who pressured her to take her real estate license.

“Our family did not have money so I took it by correspondence. I ended up becoming a notary public and I became the youngest notary in British Columbia. I was also only the second woman to do this as well at the time.”

Dunn came to Golden in 1967.

“I liked it up here. It reminded me of a pioneer town. I was only going to move here for a year. It was a young person’s town at the time. You could do well here as long as you were prepared to work.”

Dunn said her work in Golden was always exciting as well. She would fly up and down the valley or even out to Vancouver for her job.

“In those days if you wanted a divorce there were only a few grounds for it. One was adultery and to prove that was horrendous.”

Dunn became a bit of a detective during this time and would have to collect evidence for cases all over the Kootenay region.

Fred Peter offered Dunn a job in Golden that would let her get to know everyone in Golden.

“I got to know the whole population of the town. I worked with people on real estate deals to wills,” she said.

Working six days a week and late into the night Dunn did what she could to spend time with her children.

“My son would come to the office and fall asleep on the couch. When it was time to go home we would pick him up and carry him home,” she said. “There are ups and downs but it was always exciting to me. You could feel it in the air. My life here has been full and I am always trying to juggle many things. This is home to me now.”

Throughout her life Dunn has been working hard to pass on the history of Michif-Cree language culture.

“My family and I have gone to language centres to keep it going. We teach it and try to pass it on to the schools here. Each time we dance we try and pass it on to the children,” she said. “There was a time when some people may have been too ashamed to say they were First Nations or Métis. We have been successful a and are not afraid to bring it out. When we go out to places and dance we have met people who say it has helped them to not feel that way. It helps keep us going.”

 

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