Tributes celebrate Rotary Integrity Award winner Tina Fox

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, May 17, 2018

The Canadian flag and fresh spring foliage near the Cochrane Lion’s Club Rodeo Grounds team up to congratulate Stoney Nakoda Elder Tina Fox on being the recipient of the 2017 Rotary Club of Cochrane Integrity Award. Photos by Warren Harbeck

A significant event happened this past weekend in Cochrane that highlights the importance of integrity, the topic of last week’s column. At a dinner in her honour, Stoney Nakoda First Nation Elder Tina Fox, of Morley, received the Rotary Club of Cochrane Integrity Award for 2017.*

Having known Tina for most of my adult life, I could not agree more with Rotary’s choice for this award, and with Drs. Michael and Judie Bopp for nominating her. Highlighting Tina’s example of integrity as an agent of reconciliation, Michael said in his dinner speech, “Tina has stood up for reconciliation all her life with an extended hand of friendship, even though it was difficult.”

Judge John Reilly agrees. The retired provincial court judge for Cochrane and Morley also spoke at the dinner. I would like to devote the remainder of this week’s column to extracts from his speech:


It is a tremendous honour for me to be able to pay tribute to Tina Fox. She has been my teacher and mentor and ally in my struggles at Morley. She has taught me a little about her people, but much more about integrity, humanity and quality of life.

One of the most powerful moments in my education occurred in Tina’s office at the Eagle’s Nest Family Shelter when she was the director.

She told me she was attending healing circles for a man who had killed her niece. I was familiar with the case because he was on the court docket charged with a number of counts of impaired driving causing death. He was drunk and had caused a fatal car crash in which her niece had died.

It demonstrated the difference in how her people and my people deal with a wrongdoing.

Tina saw the young man as someone who had screwed up and made a bad mistake, a mistake that cost people their lives, but her reaction was to help him, even though one of the people he killed was her relation.

It embarrassed me to think that the only thought my people had was to punish him, to charge him with criminal offences, convict him, send him to a penitentiary, and brand him forever with a criminal record.

Tina practices the spirituality of her ancestors, but in my view she is an outstanding example of what a Christian should be. In my first book, Bad Medicine: A Judge’s Struggle for Justice in a First Nations Community, I referred to her as “the Mother Teresa of Morley.”

19 years ago, the Rotary Club gave me this same award. It should have given it to Tina then. I caused a lot of turmoil on the reserve, and through it all Tina supported me. I think she took a lot more risk than I did, and I am elated that she is receiving this recognition now.


*NOTE: See also Amy Tucker’s outstanding article on Tina’s selection for the award in the April 19 edition of the Cochrane Eagle.


© 2018 Warren Harbeck

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