As the sun begins to fade, the waves bounce off the rocks and glide over the sand. Water can be as gentle as a summer’s breeze or hard as a mountain top. Water can make or destroy life; powerful unlike anything other.
As I sit on a rock by the water’s edge I am reminded how beautiful it is to be alive. Water is everything. Without her we are nothing. She is the glue that binds our atoms together. She is energy, she is the one thing we can’t live without.
When the world turns cold she becomes hardened and unbreakable. When she gets heated she is what cools us. We drink her; nourishment in the simplest form. How can we ever take her for granted? She will still be here long after we are gone.
When I am close to her she opens my heart and mind. I offer her tobacco and pray to Creator and her. The greatest gift from Creator is tobacco we should honour that gift to creator everyday.
Thoughts enter my mind. All my insecurities and self doubt arise. I hold my sema in my left hand close to my heart. I don’t have to speak Creator already knows our troubles and doubts. I just give thanks for the blessings and the lesson that unfold while on my journey down the Red Road. I never ask why I just accept what is and leave it in Creator’s hands, he knows whats best for all of us. I leave what no longer serves purpose with the water and she takes it away.
I have many dreams and goals. I work hard to make them happen but, I also know that everything I do is not my doing, it is our Ancestor’s and Creator who guide us. I have faith that they will take me away to higher places. I want to fly as high as the Eagle does, above the clouds close to the stars. I have the vision of an eagle and I see what is inshore for me. The perfect gift Creator has given to Creation is finding high self in simplistic things, and most impotantly never forget to give Creator the greatest gift he gave to us… Sema. He loves to receive the very same gift to from you.
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…
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.
Who am I? It took me 40 years to be able to honestly answer this question. The fact of the matter is that I never really took the time to ask myself this. I was to caught up in trying to figure out who everyone else was around me. The conditionings of my culture had me confused, in a fog like daze, the stereotypes of my people haunted me. I know we are greater than what we have been perceived to be. History’s deception of truth enabled me to fear what others thought of me.
Conditionings of shame, abuse, and trauma held me back from my greatness. Looking back now, I see that this is how colonization wants me to feel. It was intended for me to set myself up for failure, and I succeed at this for many years.
Until the day I had nothing left. The labels I hid behind so well were the pit of my down fall. I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, or worth the effort made me fear life its self. For so many years I thought that life had some how failed me, then it dawned on me, this is not who I am!
Who am I? I am an ogititaawe kwe (warrior woman). My bloodline makes me a survivor not a victim. I am strong, noble, honest and fearless. I am a friend, mother, student and teacher. The storms I have survived some would crumble at the thought of what I’ve seen.
Who am I? I am that I am!
The world spines so fast these days not just physically but spiritually too. Our technology, has come the point where we almost are running out of things to invent. With the Internet there is so much more knowledge that is available to us just by the click of the mouse. What are we searching for? We are all unique so this question is for you to answer to yourself.
Life today is by no means mundane for most of us; there is so much effort needed to keep this place we call home stable. We dress ourselves and our children for the day. It seems we are always on the move and time seems to always run out, by the end of the day we are exhausted, and still had more that we needed to get done.
Some days become so hectic, that when we settle for rest our minds are on over load. We tend to over think, reliving past events or what we might do in the future. The good thing about the end of the day is its over, you did what you could and its time for resting and refueling through sleep.
The Blessing is the new day, we get to start over or continue where we left off yesterday. The best part of starting off my day is opening my eyes and looking out my window and see the world just as it is; not what I want to be. After I indulge in the simple things; like look up to grandfather sun coming up from the east, or the trees standing tall with no leaves this time of year, but that’s what Canadian living is about. The beginning of the day (not before I have had my morning coffee) it is that time to get on with the life and keep moving forward. It is a whole brand new page to write.
We get so caught up in the stresses of everyday life that it makes us devalue the greatness that comes from being alive and well. It took me a while to appreciate just the simple stuff. Once I realized this, it made the more interesting aspects of the day either, more significant, or less stressful how ever the day turned out. There is a lot that you can feel proud of if you just looked at the situation with humility. That what keeps us centered. when we can see both extremes but not indulge to much on either side of the coin.
The Blessing of a new day is also knowing that we are more effective when, we let go of yesterday, balance our day, and give ourselves time for self-care. When you are more interested in seeing the blessing and are grateful for what the Creator allowed you to experience. There is no time wasted and there is always more time to repeat a day if needed.