Before I self destruct
Take me under your wing
Lift me up to higher places
Yet, keep me firmly grounded
Before I self destruct
I pray for healing
The pain that is within
Mend what is broken
Before I self destruct
I take time to meditate
To allow the forces of the universe
Provide me with clarity and guidance
Before I self destruct
Examining my life
The good and the bad
The gifts and lessons of the Creator
Before I self destruct
Let go of the past and future
Live in the moment
Not looking back
Before I self destruct
Help me to remember who I am
What my purpose is
And follow my destiny
Before I self destruct
I forgive myself, and rebalance
You with the brown skin and brown hair. I see you walking this journey, working on trying to be a better man. Anishinaabe Kwewag are counting on you, for your Respect, Love, Honesty, Wisdom, Bravery, Truth and Humility.
These days it seems you have forgotten us. Leaving us to do the work of protecting the sacred. We need your Strength to carry on. We walk in balance but get push off every once in a while by your harsh words and non-compassion. The world has hardened you and we feel it. Our ancestors feel it. You come and go like the winds of seasons change.
When are you going to heal? Your kin, partners and friends are counting on each and every one of you. 1000s ancestors before you have made the same mistakes, it is up to you to heal for your descendants. One day you to will be an ancestor to your relations. If you don’t do the work in this life you will have to do in spirit.
We already have been born with the world against us, just by being NDN. You are worth more than you could ever imagine. We are the First Peoples! Stand proud! Don’t let the temptations of life destroy you. You don’t have to be perfect or live up to anyone’s expectations, and when you fall get back up and go harder. It’s okay to have fun and enjoy life. But seek that balance to be a niishin Anishinaabe Nini.
If you are in a relationship, treat her with the 7 grandfathers and she will push to do better herself. We need each other, whether it be family, friend or partner. Of all the sacred bundles we carry there is none more sacred than Love. The relationship between 2 people is euphoric when it is in its purest form. Love doesn’t mean attachment or co dependance. It means to uplift each other and help each other grow mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Dear NDN man you are enough, respected and cherished. Don’t let the world make you bitter! Find your strength, it’s in you DNA. You matter!
In love one tends to want to feel loved so much that we forget to love ourselves. Love is the most special place to be when it is in it purest form, it is euphoric.
We burden ourselves with the thought of the things or people we love. We self sabotage our existence. Love is enduring, long after it is gone, there is an imprint that imprisons us. Scars bestowed upon us when love comes to an end. Warriors become hardened from the hurt, and as each relationship unfolds, hearts are broken; we are never the same again.
We fall victim to the thought of loneliness, but we are never alone. A higher Power is always present. Once we realize the true greater power of love; we are not in love we are Love. The chains that bind our hearts and minds become detached.
Be in love with every ounce of yourself, you were created with, for and by love. Love is food to the soul. Feed yourself well and others will want to eat at your table. Taking care of yourself first, then Creator. Once you have mastered this only then can you love others.
Don’t be tied to yesterday, for it is already passed. Neither look to the future because of its uncertainty. Love today and break free…
Grief doesn’t get easier… We just learn to accept the memories are more significant than the loss
The morning sun breaks through the darkness of night. She wakens, opens her eyes to a beautiful view of the city line. She walks over to the window and thinks to herself its going to be a beautiful day and thanks the Creator for allowing her to live another day.
The morning goes great she has her coffee and smoke; thinks to herself all the things that she is going to do to change the world. She has big goals and she is chasing her dreams.
She wants to write, many books she says. But there is not enough time in the day. She starts the day with a smudge to clear her mind.
She sits and stares into nothing you would think she is thinking of something but she is not. She is standing still in time, not knowing that the time is passing by.
Silent she sits.
She no longer thinks of the past or at least tries not to, but, something is holding her back. A force that is stronger than any goal or dream she has ever had.
If you ask anyone she is the type of person who makes things happen. She has a fire inside her that is fierce. A heart that shows compassion and when both are at one she moves mountains.
Silent she sits
She moves from not thinking to thinking about a million things at once. Doubt starts to sink in and this is wear all the trouble begins.
All her strength becomes saturated with fear. She has nothing to fear but herself. She knows this but she is to caught up in her mind to let her heart tell her different.
She becomes withdrawn, spends time alone and never talks about the things that matter. She doesn’t want you to see the pain she feels inside, and it would be highly unlikely she would ever let you close enough to her to know the difference.
There are many sides to her, even herself has not figured them all out quite yet. She has come so far and knows this to be the truth. That fear is not real; it’s just her imagination
Silent she sits.
While all this is going on, the world is passing her by. Her dreams are slipping though her fingers and falling to the floor. Her thoughts have become puddles of tears.
She dries her eyes and pushes on the day. Thinks to herself what has just happened. She just spent the whole morning crying over spilt milk. She screams in silence because silent she sits…
Hoping all this will one day go away.
I hope that after reading this article you will remember her name. After watching the CBC Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women public forum on the National Inquiry thoughts and feelings arise as I travel through the confines of my mind. I have an aunt that died on March 19, 2011. They say of natural causes, but, I believe something else happened to her, there were too many odd things that had surfaced that were quite strange.
Margie was by no means a perfect women, she had her flaws and addictions; she also wasn’t in the best of health at 60 years old. she had cirrhosis of the liver drank a lot and indulged into some hard core drugs to escape the pain of her childhood. But she was by no means close to death.
She was and is still my favourite aunt, she will always be special to me. She watches over me, comforts me when I feel down, although she has left this physical plane she is very much a part of my life. She compels me to speak about her because she knows that I was once in a similar position as her, not health wise, but, more so the lifestyles we lived were more common than I like to admit.
We spent a lot of time together and when she became sick we became even closer. Something gave me the feeling that she knew something we didn’t. She would ask me to do certain things for her if she was to pass away. At the time, I didn’t pay much attention to her requests because I thought she was over exaggerating her health condition. We spoke every day and she would make time to spend with my son and always kept her promises to him. Needless to say she was his favourite aunt too.
One day Margie had planned to spend the afternoon with my son during March break that she would pick my son up and go on “their adventure”. That day came and went with no call or text message from her. This was odd to me because she always answers my calls no matter how messed up she would get. She would at least let me know that she couldn’t make it. This was a Friday. Saturday I called and left several messages for her to return my call and no response. Finally on the Sunday I kept calling repeatedly and finally her boyfriend answered.
I had asked, “what had happened to her she had made plans with Daniel but we never heard from her?’.
He responded, “she is not here”.
“Where is she?” I asked.
“At the hospital” he responded.
I quickly responded “What hospital I will go see her!”
He told me not to bother because she is DEAD. There was a long silence and I said thank you for letting me know, I will let the rest of the family know and we will be in touch again soon.
I was in shock that she was gone. Just like that. No phone call that she was in the hospital and no phone call that she had died in the hospital. This seemed odd to me but we carried on to prepare her for her journey through the Western door. The Ceremony was a closed casket, the funeral director told us that she was unrecognisable and it may startle some folks, that only the close family members who were preparing her body could open the casket.
He was right she had swelled up like a balloon and she had no shoes on her feet. Anishnawbe people always send spirits home with the proper necessities to make the four day journey. As myself, my 2 aunts, my mother, and traditional helper prepared the body it was truly an honour to be a part of that ceremony. But I noticed that she had a dress on that she never wore before and would not be caught in something like that alive. It was an old black laced dress, the ones that look like doilies that you cover your coffee table with. My aunt had noticed that I had an odd look on my face, she knew what I was thinking – why is she in this dress? – My aunt said, “I know, I went to her house yesterday and Ronnie had gotten rid of all of her stuff, he threw it away. The Funeral Director donated the dress for her because she came to the funeral home with nothing. we completed preparing the body and began to gather in the room for the ceremony.
There was so many people there I did not know she had so many friends. There were drummers and singers, prayer and a chance to say some last words. Daniel only 6 years old at the time was a brave little soul, he got up there by himself and shared his heart with the room. How much he loved her and how sad he was that he would never be able to go on adventures with his Auntie Margie. The whole room filled with tears as he poured his little heart out. The service was beautiful and she left in a good way. At the end of the service, Ronnie finally showed up to pay his condolences. He gave my son an Elephant that was Margie’s and told him he should keep this and left. He never went to the casket, spoke with the family, or said any last words; and after this day we never saw or heard from him again.
As the days and weeks passed I would replay what had happened from the time I found out she was dead until the end of the funeral. There were so many gaps and unanswered questions. Sure she was sick, yes she drank, and yes she didn’t take good care of herself, but the way Ronnie had acted after being with her for over 20 years got me thinking, what did she really die from? Why had there been so little details of her death and most importantly why wasn’t our family or at least me notified that she was that sick and that she died. When Ronnie answered the phone that day, his responses were limited and that I felt as though I had to pry it out of him where she was. And the most peculiar thing to me was why did he throw away everything she had before we even had time to go though what we would like to keep . Margie was sick but Margie also lived in an abusive relationship. I ask myself often and I am quite convinced that something happened between her and him that lead her to her death.
Being Native didn’t help because the police didn’t even bother to question her death or ask the family any questions. And the hospital had no information for us either. We were left with many questions and no answer. What would you think? What can you do? We live in Country where Indigenous women are targets of abuse, rape, being murdered or missing. The Inquiry public forum had opened up old wounds that I have tried to put behind me. It is never easy sharing our stories of our Indigenous women who still to this day have no protection against predators. This is just one story of many, there is not one Indigenous person’s life that MMIW hasn’t affected them in some way. So please I ask you to say her name Mary Margret Mckenna. She is loved and missed everyday…. NO MORE SILENCE!
Since I have been concentrating on bettering myself life hasn’t gotten any easier, but, it has become more significant. There is meaning in a day. Not that time has become more valuable, more so that it has become a means to make the most of my life.
I have forgotten what it was like to watch the days just pass on by without doing something productive. Now that I have put my efforts into inspiring others to heal; live their life and follow their dreams.
There is great healing for me when I place my head down towards a blank sheet of paper and begin to allow my thoughts to unfold. This is where I feel at most peace. There is a strong connection between my spirit and the creator in this space.
I find many answers to life’s great mysteries; the questions I have about life. My prayers are answered here. When I write I don’t even think about the words, I just let them scatter onto the page, sometimes it doesn’t make sense at the time. But, when I go back later it comes to me like an epiphany.
Creator hears us through our art. Writing is my art. Our prayers are word in the air, but, writing is talking on paper.
What is it that speaks to you? How do you interpret the world? Is there something that you have found that gives you purpose?
Some people have become accustom to living a life without doing the things that bring them joy. Days, weeks, months, years pass by and the only thing they can focus on is how shitty their life has become.
I went through ha bit of writer’s block. I felt as though I had nothing to write. The mundane task of academic writing took away my passion for reading and writing.
Facilitating creative writing has brought me back to me. Who knew that by sharing my gift with others would also help me too.
I also have to accept the writing process. I did not lose my touch, more so, I was in the gestation period of the writing cycle. No guilt or shame has become of this, I continue to share my thoughts and stories.
Up until recently I have never heard of the term inter-generational trauma. According to the University of Calgary it defines the term as the transmission of historical oppression and its negative consequences across generations. What does that mean to me as an Indigenous woman? It means the abuse that I thought was “normal” from family and partners. It means that I am marginalized, It means that I am poor, I deserve less, and that my opinions are not valued; that my worth is less than… It means that I am still oppressed.
The next question that comes to mind is why is there so much violence in Indigenous peoples’ lives? Why is this to be considered normal, in our homes, and our communities? I was just a child just like everyone else, I played, I laughed, and I cried. When the summer came and my skin became a little darker than other kids, I was told by my peers, “go have a shower you look dirty”. When we didn’t want to wear shoes in the summer time, those same peers would tease and say “you don’t have shoes because your family can not afford them”. The shame of being Indigenous I did not know until I went to school. You see, I’m mixed blood so I never really fit in anywhere. White people would call me wagon burner and Native people would call me a sellout. I was born in the Big Smoke (Toronto). I did not grow up on a reserve and I did not grow up knowing my culture. My Anishnawbe kokum, whom I love and look up to, she is no longer with us here on this Earth, but still her spirit speaks to me. She tells me go in search of your heritage bring the love and culture back to our family. Show them what it means to walk down that red road. She always had the sweetest stories, the tales that had a meaning, and teachings behind them. My Kokum would teach me how to sew, how to cook, how to crochet and how to tend a garden. All those things that keep our hands busy and our hearts clean. The only thing was, you see, society told her that Native people were not considered good people. That the only way to be civil is to lose those silly practices we call ceremonies. She also spoke Ojibwe, but did not teach even one of her children the language. My kokum sold her Indigenous rights for $50 and left the reserve I hope of a better life. My kokum was so full of knowledge. But even she was ashamed to be Anishnawbe. She told me when I was 8 years old that I was to never date an Indian man let alone marry one. All they do is get drunk and piss the bed.
Does this really happen? Why would they do that? I thought to myself.
You see, my ancestors didn’t have the same opportunities as the new settlers of Canada did.
My ancestors were called savages because we defended ourselves.
My ancestors were told they could no longer practice their traditions or perform ceremonies. They took our children away in the name of God!
Tell me, what God takes innocent children from their families?
All this for land and resources
What God forces children to learn another culture?
What God would allow for all the abuse and deaths of our precious children?
The residential schools did not make our children more civilized.
The children grew up unloved and uncared for; how can you give love if you were never nurtured or shown love yourself? How would you teach your children right from wrong? Why would you abuse your own children? What about all the addictions to drugs and alcohol, and suicides? All these things have been a legacy that has been all too familiar to me. My ancestors were not treated with respect or dignity. In fact, the purpose for these schools was to “kill the Indian”. The children were punished for speaking their language; their cultures beliefs and names were no longer used. The children became confused and unsure of themselves only to be called by a number. I hear stories from our Elders that are residential school survivors. I see the hurt in their eyes as they share the pain they once endured, that never goes away. I believe these elders share those painful memories so that we may know why there is so much dysfunction in our families. I also, believe by sharing experiences, we are all healing from the impact of colonization. I hear of this thing called “blood memory” that our ancestor’s pain is carried through our blood. The trauma is passed down from generation to generation, 7 generations to be exact my culture believes. There is a teaching that what we do affects the next 7 generations to come.
I am a part of the 7th generation since colonization start here on Turtle Island. You see my people have come a long way. The cultural genocide attempt by the white man failed! You may have damaged our hearts and souls but you did not break our spirits. For you see, my people are connected with the Great Spirit and all that he created. We have great respect for all things. The damage is severe, and there is still a lot of healing that needs to be done. As an Indigenous woman I have learned to stand tall, no matter how bad things got. I got sick and tired of always having some sort of conflict or chaos in my life. I had to make a change within myself, not only for myself but for the next 7 generations to come.
I knew somebody somewhere loved me, was accepting of all me flaws, was proud of my achievements, and was there for me when I felt hopeless. That person was me. The creator would not let me stay down; he picked me up every time. He even carried me through the days I thought I would never get through. The Creator gave me a gift, he gave us all a gift, and that gift is life. Yes, we have all suffered, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find the good out of it and learn the lesson that is being offered. From trauma comes experience, I want to feel normal. I don’t want flashbacks or night mares of the abuse my partners have done to me. I became good at blocking painful events from the past that ever so haunted me for so long. I took the challenge of healing head on. I would not allow myself to be a victim to anyone anymore; that I AM a warrior and a survivor just like my ancestors!
I took a long hard look at all that heart ache, trauma and abuse, and thought you no longer belong here inside me. There is too much love and light within me. I had to open all those old wounds and take out all the infection that kept me from healing. I evaluated everything and everyone in my life, and what was no longer beneficial to my well being I let it go and I gave to the Creator. Many days, many years, I spent walking this Earth not knowing what it is that I want out of this life. I want to be free, proud, strong, loving and compassionate; to love everything, and everyone around me. I wanted to heal from all this hurt that has been running through my blood for generations. I want to bask in the rays of Grandfather Sun. Sing to Grandmother Moon.
I dance for my people who need that healing; that unexplainable feeling that is felt as the jingles of my dress bounce off each other, that sweet melody that is heard by spirit and the Creator. I want what was taken away from my people for so long; that is our dignity, our honor and our respect.
I have found that great feeling by looking to my community for help. I have learned that by educating myself and reclaiming my identity I AM healing. When I dance at a powwow I feel all my ancestors are dancing with me in spirit. I hear the drum; the heart beat of Mother Earth, I always shed some tears because I know how much she is hurting. I hold tobacco; I hold it close to my heart the sacred medicine of prayer. As I dance I pray for her and for the ones who dwell within her that are in need. When I hear my Ojibwe language I know that my people carry great and powerful knowledge. When I see our Grandmothers and Grandfathers teaching our children of today the sacred teachings of traditions that we continue to possess after all this time; it empowers me to continue to walk in a good way. When I close my eyes to sleep I know that Grandmother moon is watching over me and my kin.
I no longer have to carry the trauma, I can break the cycle.
I can stand up for myself and say
NO! You will not oppress me,
NO! You will not judge me
NO! You will not take our children away from us anymore!
I can love you and you can love me. Love, one of the 7 Grandfather teachings; to know love is to no peace and with that in mind I will no longer fight against you. Instead, I will walk beside you and be an ally with you moving towards making this world a better place to live in. Respect, another grandfather teaching; I will respect all of creation and value it the same. We are no more or no less than each other. Although our values may be different I will respect your culture just the same. Honesty, I will make it known that I come to others with integrity. To do what I say and follow what I believe. I will show Bravery by standing on my own when I need to; to not allow fear to bestow me. Humility I will humble myself so that you may feel proud, and in knowing that all things come full circle. Wisdom is the knowledge we gain by sharing our stories. Wisdom is also to know when it is time to listen and when it is time to be heard. The last Grandfather teaching is Truth; to know thy self and what you believe in. Truth is to know that the Creator has a divine plan and to have faith in him and all creation.
If I had the chance to tell my younger self anything; I would tell her that you matter! To love and be proud of whom you are. We need to stop this vicious cycle of self sabotage. Own your experiences share your story; you could potentially help someone else who is going through something similar to what you have. Take time to learn about your culture. Pray for your loved ones and all the problems of today. Dance, Sing, Drum, and always make room for play. Be good to yourself, don’t be too critical; don’t allow yourself to become your own worst enemy.
I really started to feel a strong connection with my culture when I started going to powwows. The children,men and women all dressed up in their regalia, with all those bright colours and wonderful beaded designs. The dancing, the drumming, and the praying, just fills my heart with great appreciation for my culture. A friend once told me powwows are about coming together as one to celebrate the old, the new, and the loved ones who are passed on. Powwows are meant for all of us to give love, share, heal, and pray. We dance not only for ourselves we dance for the sick, the brothers and sisters who have not made it home that are missing or murdered, the ones who are still lost, who have not yet found peace within themselves.
If there is this label for the damage passed on through generations of people; this inter-generational trauma then there must be such a thing as intergenerational healing. We come from strong roots so if our blood carries our pain then it must carry love too. Let’s open our heart and our minds to the world today and make the changes within ourselves; for our communities and our children. Let’s build each other up, no more pulling each other down. Get rid of the lateral violence towards each other. Give love put it back in our homes, back into our communities and back into ourselves. Love is what conquers all things. Let’s kill the enemy with kindness; show what it means to forgive. Our people were good people we opened our ways to others and we surrendered in peace. Violence was something that was taught to us. It is not the way to living a good life; walking down that red road.
There are more riches in love than material gain. Love your life however humble or exciting it may be. Be proud and value that strong bloodline you come from. Live your life on your terms, don’t conform to another’s believe you will only break yourself in the end. Life is all twisted in these times, things are being loved and humans are being, stolen, bought and sold. Our sister, our daughters, our mothers, treated like pieces of garbage in the street. Treated as though our lives don’t matter, and that we are not missed by our loved ones. Our Mother earth is crying for our help, to stop selling those things that were once free, our water, our land and our air.
The truth has come to light. The Genocide that nearly wiped us all out, they can no longer hide. There will be no more skipping that chapter on Indigenous people in Canada’s history books. The lies these books told of our ancestors. The secrets they keep of the miss treatment of a whole nation. Glamorizing the culture, treated as if it were a fashion trend. What will you do to make things right? Will you love yourself? Will you teach your children how to love? Will you see the beauty of your culture? How it stood the test of time generation after generation despite being illegal. Will you incorporate the 7 Grandfather teachings onto your daily life? The “aggressive assimilation” may have silenced us for some time, but it did not take the very thing that makes us strong Anishnawbe people; it did not silence our spirits! Our cultures and languages are still in existence for you and I to learn and practice.
I remember the things my Nokimis and Noshimis use to say and show me as young child. At the time I did not understand what exactly it was they were trying to teach me. It seemed a bit confusing at the time as I was just a young girl. I was sent to live with my Nokimis when I was 8 and in that time I thought I was sent away from my mom because I wasn’t loved, looking back now, I know that wasn’t the case. My mom sent me to live with her because there was things that she couldn’t teach me that knowledge that only our Elders possess, that comes from life experience.
The knowledge you can’t find in books or that is tokenized on-line. My Nokimis always had a gift with words even though English wasn’t her first language. I use to fade away into her voice listening to her life as a child living off the land and knowing only to take what she needed; possessing value of community and that no one went with out. In the times that there wasn’t much the family pulled together and made due with what little they had.
Colonization had her thinking that her ways were the inferior way of living. She was ashamed of being First Nations and at times would devalue her culture to try to fit in. It was no fault of her own that she felt this way. I know if she were alive today she would be so proud of me reclaiming my identity of an Anishnawbe Kwe. Although, she did not knowingly teaching me the Anishnawbe’s way of life. She made sure that I knew how to make a blanket to keep me warm, how to gut and cook a fish, and always had me following her in the garden.
It was difficult for me living with my aunt and cousins. I was treated rather unkind; not feeling like I belong. I was teased and made to feel shame because I wasn’t with my mom. Because of this my Grandmother was a bit more kinder and paid just a bit more attention to me. Instead of feeding to the fire of jealously from my family, she kept me busy. Back then it felt as though I was always doing chores, she really was teaching me how do keep going no matter what and not to lets others actions or words distract me.
It was hard for all of us growing up (even her), being separated from her siblings, all of them were sent off to residential school. As a child my grandmother had Scarlett fever so she was not sent to school. I am amazed at the strength she had despite all the challenges she had to face. She started having children at 14 years old and didn’t stop until she was 42, and after she raised her own children she was looking after her Grandchildren. When her mother became older she took care of her too. She never got to travel the world, get an education or simply just live life for herself. Everything she did, she did for others to make their live’s just a little bit easier.
This way of life back in the day, the way our Elders lived was simple. The complexity came when they were forced to be separate from the land, language and ways of life. We all need to honour the beauty of our culture as Anishnawbe people and make an effort to bring those ways back. First with ourselves, then, to our communities and beyond. My Grandmother was brought into this world knowing her traditions and when she left, her spirit was sent home in a traditional good way.
I carry her and a thousand ancestors before me in my blood. My life only became more meaningful once I had realized this. Once the healing within myself began I started looking at all the challenges I had as lessons. That, I could only lead as far as I had gone. I have experienced great humility, but I have also, felt most proud of being who I am… An Anishnawbe Kwe.