Imagine your own father being mistaken for being your boyfriend. That has been Nadine Fredlund’s experience over the years because she looks nothing like her father.
When Nadine Justina Fredlund first moved to Winnipeg from Churchill 19 years ago, she became more aware of her ethnicity.
Fredlund grew up in the small town of Churchill in northern Manitoba. Her father, Cyril is Swedish-Dutch Mennonite and her mother Dora is Inuit. She said she looks more like her mom. When Fredlund first moved to Winnipeg, she was living in East Kildonan where she said everyone was blonde.
“When I came down here I became more aware of looking Inuit. Growing up I was just Nadine. I come down here and you get that question, what are you?” she said.
Even though Fredlund considers herself to be biracial, her facial features are more Inuit than white. She said, To the white people here she did not look white and that led to questions about her ethnic identity.
A couple of years ago, she joined an international young adults home group which has members who are predominantly from the African community. In that particular group, she was considered to be white.
Ndinda Musyoka, a woman originally from Kenya, met Fredlund at the international young adults home group back in July 2013.
“She genuinely loves people, is welcoming, gives awesome hugs and values relationships,” said Musyoka as she described Fredlund. “She is a God-fearing woman who finds her identity in Christ,” she added.
Nadine Fredlund’s cousin, Amanda Fredlund, whom she lives with now, also had a similar experience when she moved to Winnipeg from Churchill. Amanda’s father is Swedish-Dutch Mennonite and her mother is First Nations, specifically from the Tlicho Dene people group.
“Growing up in an isolated community sheltered me from feeling marginalized,” Amanda said. “When I started university at the University of Manitoba, I realized that my Indigenous heritage affects the way I live.”
Now in her third year of university, Amanda is the Female Vice President of the Aboriginal Students Association on campus. She believes a lot of discrimination shown to First Nations people is rooted in a lack of awareness. Through her involvement with the Aboriginal Students Association, she hopes to make a difference by educating and bringing understanding of Indigenous affairs to other students.
Nadine Fredlund shared an incident that happened to her several years ago when she went to visit her friend, Jocelyn, in Geneva, Switzerland. While there, Fredlund met a girl from Texas, whose name she forgot. She went for coffee with her new American friend. Near the end of spending time with her, the girl from Texas looked at her and said suddenly, “People like you should not exist.”
To this day, Fredlund said she does not know why those words were spoken to her. She never asked for an explanation. She does, however, remember how she felt.
“When people struggle to see me just as a person I am not personally offended, but my heart just breaks for them. If God has brought us to this point where I am the one who challenges your racist mind I love that,” said Fredlund.
For Nadine Fredlund, her Christian faith has helped her to be confident about her identity.
“I felt uncertain about my identity and I spent a season knowing who I was in God’s eyes. I stopped trying to tell myself who I was because I did not create myself,” she said.
She came to realize that while she is Inuit, that is not all she is. She is more than her ethnicity and so is everyone else. She is passionate about challenging stereotypical thinking because stereotypes cause people to miss out on the individuality of other people.
“While some friendships never form because some people tend to get stuck on my ethnicity, I have seen the power in not getting consumed with what other people think of me as a person. I know who I am and that is something God has told me,” said Fredlund as she smiled.