By Cari Kilmartin

A graduate of one of Newo’s first training programs, Joby leads the Pecamu Makoce team with a passion for green energy, working outdoors, and becoming a role model in his community.

life story so far

Born into a big family, with ties and connections coursing through his home community of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, Joby’s childhood embodied the phrase “it takes a village.”

“Our house had trails connecting to everybody’s house in the area,” Joby says, “and the elders and my dad’s peers influenced a lot of my life.”

Joby refers to his dad as the “the starting point for everything,” responsible for introducing him to the bulk of his interests and hobbies, from baseball and hockey to culture and traditions.

“My dad built this mini baseball stadium on the side of our house. And that’s really where I got my skills, just playing against all the kids that would come over. I’d just, like, demolish them.” he says sheepishly. “I got into hockey because everybody would play, and my dad is like the Mario Lemieux of Alexis.”

While grateful for many aspects of his upbringing, Joby saw a few downsides.

“It was like a ‘go find out for yourself’ parenting style that in a way helped me, but it also contributed to how I seek validation and admiration. I look for it everywhere and I’ll change my beliefs or whatever to meet other people’s satisfaction.”

Pursuing external validation led a teen Joby to some decisions he probably wouldn’t make again.

“I have an addiction to relationships. I was in and out of relationships in high school, and I thought I was taking off with the love of my life and didn’t finish school.”

“But that didn’t stop me from being where I am now,” he says. From building up his technical trade skills with Newo to taking Indigenous Governance courses at Yellowhead Tribal College and an Advancing Indigenous Management in the Energy Sector program from the University of Victoria, Joby has shaped a path all his own.

turning points

When he was 22, Joby’s first daughter arrived earthside, catalyzing a significant shift in his circumstances and worldview.

“Before she came in, I was basically like a teenager, still trying to be crazy. Then I became a father and realized that, you know, you wouldn’t want that to be your father. So why should your kid have that?”

Now dad to three girls, Alyanna (6), Shanova (2), and Luna (1), Joby’s parental journey, though no walk in the park, has transformed his priorities and perspective.

“I became my own person when my daughter Alyanna came into the world,” he says. “Becoming more firm on my beliefs and staying true to what I believe in, sharing what I can and what I’ve obtained through the years to give to my daughters, and to my nieces and nephews.”

Fatherhood is also partially responsible for reawakening Joby’s connection to his Stoney culture. Though he grew up around elders and embedded in the culture, learning how to dance pow-wow and round dance from his father and grandfather, the importance of tending to his roots didn’t fully resonate until recently.

Reflecting on what caused the “click” a couple years ago, he says, “It was the thought that the grandfathers are gone and now our fathers are becoming the grandfathers. And that thought is scary, to say the least, because those fathers aren’t as healthy to pass on the knowledge to the (new) fathers now.”

“But someone has to do it. Otherwise, everything that we have and know as a community and as my family, for example, will just not exist anymore. And that’s sad. So it became, ‘OK, I need to straighten up and take all this knowledge and wisdom and continue to grow so I can pass that on.’”

And it seems his efforts are coming to fruition. His youngest daughter already imitates her father’s singing and is fully invested in the pow-wow life, while his eldest has finally warmed up to the idea of dancing — a milestone Joby had been eagerly waiting for.

“There was this moment of, ‘Oh my God, I’m like my dad,’” he says, laughing.

Growing up with a wide relational net and community of caregivers was a blessing, but, as love tends to do, it also caused Joby to “deal with loss and grief at a very young age.”

The passing of his Uncle Donald, a “main character” in his life, when Joby was six precipitated an “existential crisis,” the effects of which Joby has been grappling with ever since.

“A year after my uncle passed away — I remember this day very vividly — we were waiting for my dad outside the doctor’s office, my mom and myself sitting in the truck, and I was playing with these Yu-Gi-Oh cards. And one of the cards is a ‘reborn’ card. And I asked my mom, ‘Do we get reborn?’ And she said, ‘No.’”

So he asked, “What happens when we die?” To which she responded, “Nothing.”

“I still remember that feeling of hyperventilating, crying, and just scared for my life. And I’ve been dealing with that ever since,” he says. “Scared to live because you’re just worried to die.”

While losing his uncle kicked off decades-long agonizing over the disconcerting reality of mortality, the more recent passing of his grandmother and brother began cultivating something quite different — an “understanding of death and an appreciation for life.”

Sharing anecdotes about his grandmother, the family matriarch and a force to be reckoned with, Joby explains how she was a residential school survivor, a woman who easily could have held hate in her heart. Instead, she was a powerhouse who shared love and strength far and wide. It was losing her and his brother Eugene, “a hard worker” who “gave his last to everyone,” that prompted Joby to develop the Pecamu Makoce program.

Though still grieving, Joby has been able to begin reconciling and transforming his pain.

“I guess the main point is that I was mentally strong enough to get through it all. But if I didn’t have the training and support that I got with them, and what Newo was involved in, then I don’t think I would have made it through. I want to do good by the others who helped me get to that point, and create something that could then blossom into this bigger shade for others.”

core values

Joby’s explanation of his core values can be summarized in just one word: healing.

“I want my community to heal itself. People always say that we need change, that we need this and that so we can be successful. But it’s more rooted than that. A lot of deep healing needs to happen.” He continues, “And not just community. I want my relatives to heal as well. I don’t want to see any more leaving their kids somewhere and going out to drink. Because alcohol fucking kills, seriously.”

“There’s young kids right now that are drinking. My nephew passed away a month ago because of a drunk driver. It’s time for people to see this. No more brushing it under the rug because this house is dirty. Who’s going to be the one to bring the cleaning supplies, who’s going to put on the gloves and start getting to work?”

rooted in people or place

“I’m connected to a lot, and I hold a lot of things dear to my heart,” Joby shares, “but that leaves me with, ‘I don’t want to keep myself in one spot when I could be everywhere.’”

Looking at the bios of other Newo team members, Joby reflects on the privilege of travel and how, somewhat paradoxically, it can bring clarity and certainty to one’s sense of home.

“I’ve only ever been to three provinces: Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.. And everyone in the organization has visited places and been somewhere. They know the difference from, ‘OK, these are my people,’ so then they know that, ‘OK, this is where I should be in life.’ But for me, I’ve only ever known this.”

“Someday I would like to travel. I would like to visit the Philippines. I would like to go to Japan to see the Konoha village. I want to go to New Zealand. Because I feel connected to those places and I’d like to find out why.”

At the end of the day though, “Home, for me, would be Alexis for sure.”

“Someday I would like to build a house solely on my own knowledge, alongside other friends and relatives that have the experience and know other things that I don’t know.”

“I’d like to have my own home, where my kids have their own space and can feel comfortable and secure,” he says. “And a nice old Chevy truck like my late uncle, with a bunch of dogs.”