Yellowknife woman reflects on winning Wise Woman Award

·3 min read
Tammy Roberts is a long-time foster parent and a recipient of a Status of Women Council of N.W.T Wise Woman Award this year. (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)
Tammy Roberts is a long-time foster parent and a recipient of a Status of Women Council of N.W.T Wise Woman Award this year. (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)

A long-time foster parent and the executive director of the Foster Family Coalition and SideDoor Youth Centre in Yellowknife is being recognized for her years of service to young people in the territory.

Tammy Roberts is one of six recipients of the Status of Women Council of the Northwest Territories' Wise Women Awards, which honour strong women who are role models in their communities, and who advance the equality of women in the North.

The other recipients were Winnie Gruben of Tuktoyaktuk, Doreen Arrowmaker of Gameti, Lucy Jane Simon of Jean Marie River, Jan McNeely of Hay River and Camilla Tutcho of Délı̨nę.

"Very exciting, and I was really, really surprised about it," Roberts said about the award, while speaking with CBC's Wanda McLeod, host of Northwind. "It was a great honour to be nominated by my staff."

She says growing up, she was raised to help people.

"As you're growing up, you see people that are in need, and you look at ways to help them. And then I ended up deciding to become a foster parent when my children were young," she said, adding she has two birth children who were three and four years old when she started.

"From there, I just moved here from northern Manitoba and started taking in youth here," Roberts said.

"Then, [I] got to a point where I didn't want to have people coming and going all the time. And that's when I started working for the Foster Family Coalition of the Northwest Territories."

Focus on rebuilding

She says her passion to stay in the line of work is partly from seeing the struggles that some children have gone through and noticing a lack in services that could help them. She says the years in the field have helped her learn.

"I learned things every day — I learned that I make a lot of mistakes. And that's fine. That's how you learn and you grow," she said.

"I think, my kids and the youth that I work with, keep me young. So sometimes I look in the mirror and go, 'Oh, my goodness, who is that?' because I feel I feel a lot younger just by spending so much time with young people, because I can really relate to them."

She says with her latest position at SideDoor, she hopes to help the organization focus on rebuilding.

"We have a brand new board that are really gung-ho to make change," she said, adding they'll be launching the new name and programs in the next few weeks.

"So that keeps me going.… I like building things and looking at how they can be made better to meet people's needs."

The awards were doled out last Saturday during a physically distanced lunch with other recipients and families.

"It was a really nice time," she said. "I was able to have some of my children there and my grandchildren there, so it was lovely."