Storyteller returns to his roots

·4 min read

A Cree/Metis descendant from Dawson Creek continues to use his experiences— both adversities and successes — to motivate and inspire Canadians.

Those who watched Earl Lambert grow up may have never imagined he would utilize his experiences to become a motivational speaker and inspirational storyteller.

Raised by a single mom with three siblings, Earl says he was a mischievous and impulsive child, always running his mouth and getting into trouble. His mom worked hard to care for them, but sometimes, food was short, and so was the attention he craved.

Teachers saw his attention-seeking antics in a negative light, so he says he often felt ashamed and disappointed in himself. Though very bright and articulate, he began to skip and hang out with his older buddies, throwing rocks, vandalizing properties, and committing petty thefts.

By the age of twelve, he was well known to the RCMP and was sentenced to the Headley Youth Detention Camp due to the antics he caused with some older friends. Lambert says the group regularly skipped school and was known for vandalizing property and committing petty thefts.

During his time at the detention camp, he says he learned to fish, cut wood, and work as part of a team. He thrived on the structure and the connection to the land, using his boundless energy in positive pursuits and acceptance from his peers. However, by the time he was eighteen, he had spent three years in and out of the Prince George Young Offenders Center and was attracted by the gang lifestyle, hard drinking, and drug dealing.

Lambert says he didn't see much of a future for himself until he met an older inmate while in jail.

"You need to get educated; no one can take that away from you. Find out who you are and why you are, get back on track," the fellow inmate told Lambert.

With this in mind, Lambert started working towards his high school diploma. His instructors were surprised at his tenacity and intellect, according to Lambert.

Within four months, he attained his dogwood diploma while still in prison,

"I learned the value of failing forward," Earl Lambert.

Eventually, he met his mentor, Elder Alden Pompanna, who helped Lambert fully immersive himself into his Cree and Metis culture.

Lambert learned about the teachings of his ancestors, the intergenerational effects of residential school, and how we can use the medicine wheel to heal and stay in balance.

Through this journey, Lambert says he learned that "when we appreciate life, our life appreciates in value."

He found pride and acceptance in the practice of ceremony and in honouring his ancestors.

Lambert then became a leading member of the "Native Brotherhood," a movement within the institutional setting that brought culture and ceremony and acceptance into the prison.

Upon his release, Lambert became a dynamo of advocacy and leadership. He quickly rose through the ranks of Prince Georges First Nations non-profit organizations providing educational, cultural, and recreational support to families.

He was also employed as an advocate and fundraiser for the homeless, a business and employment facilitator, an HIV/AIDS educator and a program developer for a Métis child and family services organization.

Despite a few setbacks, Lambert says he held on to the belief that "like our ancestors, tough times made me stronger. My pain and hardship made me that much more resilient, made me who I am today".

After eight years in Ontario and his work with the Idle No More movement, Lambert shares that his true calling to be an inspirational speaker and storyteller became abundantly clear.

His dynamic and entertaining way of combining music, magic, hip-hop, humour, and uplifting activities with inspirational life lessons made him popular with over 200 First Nations organizations across Canada.

His highest praise is when, after sharing his experiences growing up, someone approached him and said, "that's my story that you shared. That was me as a kid. I just didn't know how to put into words how I felt or where to go after that."

Lambert's workshops and message reached the heart of many, including several Treaty 8 First Nations.

An entrepreneur as well, he created PROUD TO BE Apparel, an increasingly popular clothing line that continues to sell in several countries across the world.

Currently, residing in Dawson Creek, Lambert recently bought a house for his mother, Cynthia Whitford, to whom he accredits his success.

"I settled in Dawson Creek because I believe everything in life happens full circle. I want to give back to the community I was raised in. It's where I experienced much adversity, so it's a big part of my healing journey."

Lambert is currently touring the county with his storytelling, working on his clothing line, and making investments in affordable housing solutions for lower-income families. His dream is to one day host a talk show in which he would use his experience and insight to motivate and lift up others with similar stories.

Kirsta Lindstrom, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Energeticcity.ca