Pain is one of our greatest teachers’
no one can know their own demise…
Perhaps we have already lived it
Pain is one of our greatest teachers’
no one can know their own demise…
Perhaps we have already lived it
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She becomes withdrawn, spends time alone and never talks about the things that matter.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.
Stares into nothingness
Daydreams of a time before
when you were here
Floats a little white feather
into my view
Swaying gently into time and space
then I think of you
floats a little white feather
to good to be true
Memories of you enter my mind
a hurt that never heals
floats a little white feather
a miracle transformed into you
Gone from here but not forgotten
Little white feather
I wait for you
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!
I don’t think there is a single man on this Earth that I have loved more than you. You loved me unconditionally. You were the only one who has been there ever since I born.You filled the void that I had while growing up as a child. You are my friend, a role model and a father figure to me. You made growing up without my dad around bearable.
I love to hear stories about you, how you named me at birth, were there for my first steps and treated me as if I was your own daughter. For this Papa there is nothing in this world that I care about more than you.
I remember you teaching me right from wrong, always gave me sound advice, stood up for me and provided truth to some of the harsh realities of choices I had made in life for myself. You never once judged me or put me down. I couldn’t have been more blessed than to have a grandfather more caring than you.
For the past several years you have slowly began to forget little things where you put your glasses, miss placing things, forgetting the date or which day of the week it was. This has gotten worse over the years, to the point that you were unable to care for yourself.
But it got even more worse, by no fault of your own, you began to forget my name, how old I was and that I couldn’t be me because I was too old; you thought I was still a child, your mind wouldn’t let you believe that I had grown into a woman. I let it go knowing it was the disease that was taking control of your thoughts and stealing your memories. Alzheimer’s Disease was slow taking its toll and there was nothing I could do.
About 6 months ago you no longer recognized me at all, had no idea who I was or my name. This absolutely broke my heart. But still nothing I could do to change it. I try to convince myself that this doesn’t bother me, but I am lost without you. I push through the days, keeping busy with life, and cut back on coming to see you just because it was easier to deal with if I didn’t think about you. I know this was wrong but I did it to save my memories of you.
Last week I thought I was going to lose you for good. I prayed and begged for you not to leave me yet. I danced for you, asking Creator to let me have just one more time with you here, that I wasn’t ready to let you go. You gave us all a scare. This made me realize how much I depend on you for my strength even though you don’t have much yourself any more. He answered my prayer. I was able to have another special moment with you.
I came to visit you yesterday and the day before. Not much had changed during the first visit, but the visit I had with you in the morning is one that I will never forget. You knew who I was, if only for a brief moment in time, it meant the world to me. Still, there was something more special about this encounter. You had asked me if I had saw that big light we had here the other day? You also told me that you saw dude [a nickname you had called grandma]. You went on to tell me that you tried to talk to her. You began to have a loss of words. The only thing that you could think of to further explain the event was that “kinda like a boss” was there and wouldn’t let you speak to her. This to me sounded as if you were so close to the other side, the after life, and she was waiting for you, but you decided to come back.
As the tears are falling down my face as I share this story, I am ready to let you go. People may not believe what I writing about today, but I don’t care. I know your spirit was reaching out to me and somehow it has given me closure. I will cherish every moment from now on that I get to spend with you… Although, deep down, I know you will always be with me; watching over me and guiding me though this life. I thank you so much for helping to understand that this disease is not who you really are.
People have been profoundly affected by great works of art. Maybe it was a book, movie, photograph, drawing or painting, a song or musical composition. A movie has had a powerful impact on me. The movie is called A Beautiful Mind. This movie has affected me because even though he suffered from mental illness he was able to triumph in his career. Also how he was able to find peace and love in his life.
A Beautiful mind is based on a true story of John Forbes Nash Jr. John. He was a mathematical genius of the 1950’s, who throughout his life made ground breaking theories that amazed the greatest scholar’s of his time. This movie also tells the story of John’s life long battle with schizophrenia. It tells the tale of his struggle with his mental illness and how he miraculously was able to conquer his disability and win the Noble peace prize in 1994. It also shows the effects his mental illness had on his loved ones. It was clearly challenging and somewhat confusing to John’s wife. Instead of walking away she supported him, helped him overcome his illness by showing him that love is real, not his delusions, they were only imagined. With many years of psychiatric therapy, and loving support from his wife. John was able to return to work at Princeton University and become a well respected professor. This movie has been an inspiration to me.
This movie had a powerful impact on me in more ways than one. I too have suffered from mental illness for many years. Struggled with symptoms, treatments, as well as the isolation that a person with a mental illness experiences. I have also witnessed the effects it has on loved ones. Most importantly, like John I have had to go through therapy to have an understanding of my illness to face the stigma that is associated with being labeled. I have been able to not let my illness define me, and not let it hold me back from being a productive member of society. My illness is different than John’s, its Borderline Personality Disorder. I have had to put my aspirations on hold and take a break to heal. Learn how to cope with symptoms in a healthy way, and to regain the confidence to continue on with my life and family.
John’s wife did not give up on him in spite of all the traumatic experiences she has seen John go through. “I need to know that something extraordinary is possible”. This statement was made by John’s wife when she was just about ready to give up. The love they had for each other had to be stronger in order to conquer his illness. This showed how unconditional love triumphs over any obstacle.
Watching this movie again, after seeing it many years ago I could relate more so to John’s life. How, I too, struggled for quite some time until I was diagnosed in my late 30’s. How the last few years have been hard as well as rewarding, and to see the positive effects therapy has allowed me to progress. The fears I overcame, and how much my loved ones have been there for me. I think the movie was a great work of art not only because of the actors/actresses but because how remarkable John Forbes Nash Jr. was in his life.
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 often make mistakes, but often learn from them rather quickly. Life has taught me not to dwell too much on what has happened, rather than relying on my own advice, I continue reliving them to the point that they are so hard to come back from.
There are some mistakes that I have made and no matter how well I have come to know the outcome, I still continue to make them. In hopes that there will be a different result.
Creator puts us where we need to be and I am exactly where he needs me to be. I feel him watch over me, but I also feel the devil lurking. When the Creator has his eyes on you so does the devil.
My devil appears harmless, tall, dark, with eyes that are so hypnotizing you lose all sense of time and reality in his presence. He has fire in his soul and swag when he walks.
The Devil is a trickster, he has his way of louring me in with little effort at all. Before I know it, I am in the confines of his charm. It always feels like home.
It won’t be long before he changes face. Once again the mistake is made… A lesson I once again did not see.
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.