Uncomfortable Compromises

We learn as we experience it, that life is not cut and dry, that regardless of our highest ideals, when we get into the room with people who don’t think like us and/or do not give a damn about us, we will find ourselves in the midst of some uncomfortable conversations that lead to uncomfortable compromises. That’s reality. We don’t always get the choices we want; we simply get what we get and sometimes those choices are shitty, but we will agree to what we can because in many cases, we don’t really have a choice. The choice may mean literally starving or having to take it on the chin – for this round.

Image (modified) –The Independent

We all get to sit in those rooms some day and we will have those conversations and we will not always be on the winning end. Sometimes we will be made to accept a deal that we despise today, but may get us what is helpful in another way on another day. That’s life. That’s the whole game right there.

So, how do you think you’d play? So much better than those who’ve been traversing those minefields for decades? You wouldn’t be at all unusual if you answered, yes. Because, for all the generations, we all did.

Sometimes, in our roles as citizens watching our leadership(s), we learn some of our negotiators have less than our desired level of social and/or diplomatic skills – sometimes they say things that embarrass, sometimes they stumble hard. But often, at those negotiating discussions, they’re made to accept something quite awful from that table of the day and most times, they are unable to tell us exactly what went down at that table. Not because they don’t want to, but because silence is often a specified condition. Usually, it’s a condition meant to maximize the heat of humiliation or coercion; a public spectacle by the party with the upper hand meant to make sure one sticks to the bargain regardless of how distasteful or unfair. That is the reality of the political playing field. It is a vicious industry.

These same scenarios play out regularly in other arenas of our lives too. The same sort of offers and/or request denials occur around board tables in business, educational institutes, social justice platforms, even marriage. It really doesn’t matter – it’s a ubiquitous minefield of varying degrees within the human condition.

Life does not allow us to always have the upper hand even if we hold the highest card in ethics, morals, in the desire to do what’s most right. Many times we simply have to accept that we are all often made to agree to and endure uncomfortable compromises on a regular basis. I’ve personally found this to be one of the most frustrating, often saddening aspects of the facts of life, but it remains a fact nonetheless.

That’s why it’s necessary to look at the totality of any work on a regular basis. Taking stock, we call it. We do this to keep perspective and to respect the fact that few of us are so exceptional that we never have a moment of embarrassment or humiliation or disappointment or downright devastation when having to work something out that requires negotiation. It’s very hard work, often deeply demoralizing, and any who succeed at it, stumbling all along, while upholding the best they can for who they represent, has earned respect.

Sometimes, we forget that life is hard enough as it is without anyone ever having to create drama where none is needed. This too is a fine line dance that requires the benefit of experience to make reasonable discerning choices. Hopefully, we get the benefit of learning these lessons sooner than later, but if we don’t, let’s hope the consequences are less bitter or devastating than needed too.

The best visionaries are those who keep the biggest picture in focus to the best of their abilities. We all want to be led by such folks and in many instances, we are. We just need to keep our own sights on the bigger picture in support until we too get to that line of successful focus. It’s a major achievement. All the wishes in the world don’t get us there any faster. We need to also remember to not beat up on them or ourselves on our own way there, because that goal is simply not reached without the necessary journey to get there.

RL

Sirens and Lights and Speed, Oh My

So, I came across a newspaper story about my mom and me. It’s an old story, but for a few minutes I was taken back to a whole other world where sirens and flashing red lights were an average event we sped to.

We were an ambulance team. I’m pretty sure, in the early 1990s, we were the first mother and daughter team in Ontario. I wonder if we were the first Indigenous mother and daughter team as well. I don’t think either of us gave that any thought at the time. We were really only about applying the lessons my mom earned the credentials to teach for the benefit of our community and our own hearts.

Mom worked so hard in those days, spending 12 hour shifts providing first-aid standby at the gold mine, while in her off-time, she taught varying levels of St John’s Ambulance courses. That work got her called in as a volunteer for the ambulance attendant gig. While she was doing that, I was working through my second “mid-life crisis” during my mid-20s in Vancouver.

I’d discovered that all the things I’d been taught about achieving a successful life was a giant pile of unbaked United Kingdom Spotted Dick. So, what to do? I ended up resigning from my job, selling half my stuff, storing the rest and then I pointed my little car in the direction of east. I had no idea of where I would ultimately end up, but I did know the next step required me to put the pedal to the metal.

After a short stop in Thunder Bay, I ended up in a very unexpected peace as an unexpected resident of a very small town, Pickle Lake – the literal end of the road in northwestern Ontario. After Pickle Lake, the road toward further north becomes only gravel and dirt until bitter winter allows for the very necessary freezing of lakes to drive any further.

Pickle Lake was where my parents lived. I thought it would be a fairly short visit while I worked out the plan for the rest of my life. Well, who doesn’t know the joke about plans and fate? Accordingly, I ended up staying long enough to get roped into taking those first-aid lessons, then onto the next education level to earn the job of volunteer ambulance attendant. The way this works is a little different from full-time city attendants. We were on-call for 12 hours, day or night, for the grand pay of $2.50/hr.

Clearly this was not a life-sustaining role on our side of the gurney. So, my mother stepped in for me on that too and got me a job sharing her role at the gold mine. More 12 hour shifts, but the pay definitely propelled me into ‘able to eat regularly’ status. Both experiences served to teach and enforce the lessons of the other.

I previously wrote a bit of the experience in a tribute to one of the attendants who took me under his wing during the bulk of my training. We worked out most of the kinks in getting me up to par until I was ready enough to work in rotation with any of the other team members, my mother included.

There were many moments of what I’ve heard is the experience of pilots –long bouts of boredom followed by short bursts of adrenaline-fueled terror. Okay, the terrified moments were rare, but the adrenaline is very real. When that phone rang, we had to be prepared for anything and it seemed as though anything was always up for offer. Car accidents, forest fires, plane crashes, overdoses, assaults, industrial accidents, and babies about to be born.

There was story after story, of which many will never be forgotten – the young man we tried to save on Christmas day; the baby that almost landed in my hands instead of the attending nurse’s in rushed chaos; the young man who lost his arms at the mine. There was that time I almost lost my arm to the jaws of life. In the effort to extricate the woman I was holding up in a twisted car, the attendant cutting mistook the reflective band on my uniform for metal. Luckily it was only a nano-second of threat. (Thank you forever, dearest Eric for warning the cutter just in time).

There were other events that didn’t quite work according to plan. Mom and I had to attend a patient who’d fallen down a snowy hill and broke her ankle. We learned she was a friend and so we had a little extra concern with what we’d find. It wasn’t too bad and we got her all snugly secured and ready to lift to the ambulance when I heard my mom yell out, “Robyn, get to that truck now!” I quickly turned to see the ambulance slowing rolling backward down the hill. I stood stunned until I realized I’d forgot to put on the emergency brake. I madly ran into the moving vehicle to slam it on. Holy cow. It was bad enough that I was going to hear about this from our dispatcher and from the rest of the overall crew, but I’m pretty sure I can still feel the burn from the look I got from momma. Oh, and from the follow-up glare of our friend.

There are moments after moment that I share with my mom in these settings that I know bonded us beyond what we’d already had. The aftermath of some of the scenes takes us to places that only others who’ve done it can know. Our entire crew was a set of people as fine as anyone could ever meet. They, and so many that we were sent to help, will always be inextricably held in our hearts.

Even now, decades later, I can vividly hear their voices and feel what we went through. I am so damned proud to have been a part of their team and especially with my mother.

All of it really, was just another gift from momma.

RL

Wishing the best of the new year to all. Stay safe.

One Single, Holy Moment

She took her last breath at 6:30am on September 6, 2020. She was my little sister. Funny how we do that, no matter how close to seniors’ stage we are – little sisters will always be little sisters to the older.

Reva Anne

Reva was beautiful; exceptionally beautiful. She certainly had no problem turning heads and often invoking envy. She was smart, a doer and a dancer and she was funny too. She held our family sense of humor, honed in the history of pain and endurance, in doing whatever it took. She wouldn’t have recognized how that humor and ability to persist was ingrained through many generations reduced to survival.

She didn’t much talk about our Indigeneity; it was not something we consciously talked about. We just were and mostly, we tried to forget about it. Mostly we had associated every awful and humiliating moment of our childhood with it.

We went through the fostering system together, until the day I ran away from it and she aged out of it. Even then, we weren’t really free. We still had the weight of all we’d gone through before, during and even after. In our own ways, we decided the only path out was to pursue the model of success that was firmly impressed on us throughout those years. We only had to just work hard; very hard. We only had to have a nice home and maybe husbands and kids and maybe a car too. We only had to be respectable.

My journey with that empty misconception ended with several years of help to undo those generations of trauma. She sought help where she most felt at home. I don’t know how stable or even healing that was for her. I think it mostly hurt her, really. Yes, she was beautiful and smart and so, so complicated.

It wasn’t always easy to love her. I suppose they would say that about me too. I just like to think all that therapy gave me some measure of genuine peace she didn’t have. It’s in that, as a big sister that I find most painful. It’s not much different really, from all those earnest wishes for happiness and safety we have for our babies.

We achieved those goals to similar degrees. In the end, it was our children and homes that mattered most, but the ugly monster that was our childhood never really left her. She never quite found the combination that would allow her to be, to just be, in ease and in the ability to admit failure. That sometimes made her a pretty tough judge and not everyone was interested in hearing the verdicts. Sometimes other events hardened hearts indefinitely. It’s one of the most miserable of human experiences to simultaneously love someone so deeply while fighting the soulful wish to feel only indifference. Hopeless dreams.

Still, she held out her hands, arms and whatever resources available to help anyone she could. Generosity was hers too. Her heart would melt at the sight of impersonal suffering. She was a force and it was a good feeling if she was on your side.

As a sister, there was plenty of special too; the way we knew what the other was thinking by locking eyes. Breaking into gut-busting laughter over things only we could understand. It was an indescribable comfort to know she was there when I was scared. It was gut-wrenching when her pain became mine.

I hadn’t been talking to her for some time when her boy found her on the floor. She’d been rushed into surgery to remove the discovered brain tumor that they said was going to take her in a matter of months, and that’s when I got the call.

It doesn’t seem real; not then and not now. One moment often replays in my mind. It was when I arrived at her home and saw her sitting in the corner of her couch, so small and quiet and beautiful, even with all those metal staples down one side of her head. She didn’t say anything, but I felt it all. I felt her fatigue and confusion; I felt her fear.

I could only go to her and take her in my arms and tell her that I loved her. In only a moment, all those years of trying to figure out life and our issues were done. One single, damned moment. One single, holy moment.

We had her for eight and a half more months; somewhat short of the 24 they told us was possible. I think we just knew, this time the possible was not an achievable goal. We were back to survival mode, where the practicality of what had to be dealt with in undoing an entire lifetime was paramount.

Her sons and I packed up boxes and tried to plan as best as possible for her youngest son’s eventual move to his father’s and her older son’s grappling with the baggage of the past and the infuriating circumstances of the present. Broken hearts can’t be boxed.

We spent the last few weeks just talking until she lost most of the ability. Then she would mostly just look at us as we’d try to regale her with any stories of normalcy.

Two days before she passed, I obsessed over the thought that I needed a sign when she was on the other side. I asked her to please show me something purple. “I don’t know why I picked purple, but will you”? I pleaded. She nodded, yes. She knew why I picked purple, but she wasn’t able to tell me. I didn’t even remember until she was gone, her birthstone is an amethyst. Anyway, when she nodded, I knew she would.

Eight and a half months to live what matters and even if she couldn’t say it often, I know she loved us hard and no one as much as her sons and grandson. I know this is mainly what she thought about in that time and if she could have made everyone’s wishes come true then, she would have. She had so many dreams…

In the end, she lived up to that final promise to me and I know she will for others. I can promise that. Another thing you could always count on her for was, keeping her word.

A couple weeks after she passed, I went for a walk. It was late September and the leaves were turning color. The wind that rustled fallen leaves was distinctly cooler. I plodded on, lost in thought until I was stopped in my <insert whatever cliché>.

Even if they had noticed, it might not have made much of an impression on anyone else. It was unusual to me though, and it happened to be one of my favorite flowers; a Lupin, a flower that blooms in spring. Of course, it was purple.

I didn’t have a thought. Not that I recall. I do remember the way it felt. It was like my entire being was suddenly filled with warmth that I find hard to describe. I instantly and absolutely knew my little sister was home and she was safe. That was all I really needed to know since I first got that call, and of course, she knew that…

Sisters know.

RL

Natural Progress

Summer haikus; poetic respite in between the cares and the concerns of Spring and the prep work for Fall…

Photos from my first attempt at a deck garden.

Green bean sprout

Delicacies reign
Effortless sustenance hails
Tendril-loving care

RL

Wild flowers

Seedy flirtations
Lusciously coloring life
Carelessly strewn joy

RL

Green onion flower; sweet seeds

Allium cepa
Flavorful accessory
Verdant stems of pride

RL

Goth petunias
Black velvet grows in boxes
Textural wealth

RL

Tobacco flowers/seeds

Future offerings
Seeds of faith, promise & love
Gratitude’s bounty

RL

Anchor-age, Not the Alaskan Kind

Five years ago, I went through a set of circumstances similar to what I’ve had to navigate through this year. A year later I had some small moments of reflection that I see are as relevant now as they were then. I can’t help feeling that most of us are at that place now. So, here’s a re-tread of those thoughts. Hiy hiy for this indulgence.

Grounders

Sooo, did I hear you type the word, cookie?

No matter what kind of curve ball life throws, even those 359 degree ones, there are two things that demand focus in any way they can get it – cookies and bacon.

Okay yes, I’m kidding… it’s whatever requires you to be relevant. In my case, those anchors just happen to be fairly typical – children and animals, not necessarily in that order…and thank you sweet, Geezus for typical anchors.

They see me at my best, and my worst – which they generally run away from – fast, usually to retain the emergency services of a stylist or a good martini mixer, but even so, they will love me again within minutes. If only that were true of the rest of the world…

They do see me cry and rail at times because I don’t often try to shield them from those moments because life is also an awful lot about ‘shite happens’.

My last few posts have reflected some recent hard knocks and I expect I will write in and around those events for a little while too.  Writing  is a critical component of healing for me, as much as talking things out with my son is needed to help his understandings.

We’ll go over what’s happening to whatever appropriate extent and then, what it’s going to take to  cope and keep moving. My Jack seems to understand that, so he pretty much behaves accordingly – he’ll lick my face, then throw a paw at it for priorities – which incidentally are the same as my son’s – cookies and bacon.

My son, on the other hand, seems to have grown some pretty thoughtful insight for his age, which he occasionally jolts me with. He reminds that a laugh is good medicine or that I am forgetting to see my own value, regardless of anyone else’s assessment, and that he’s willing to stand up for me to anyone. It’s those moments that remind me that no matter how hard I’ve been hit by the challenges of life,  underneath and overall, I have done some things right.

I’d like to think that I’ve mostly lived for the greater good.  I’d like to know that I didn’t live in my own head as much as, or more than, contributing meaningfully to community. I hope that no matter what happens, most will remember me for living, giving, and seeing the worthwhile. I’d like to believe this is true for most of us.

At the end of the day, no matter what kind of day, I hope I will have earned the right to my own share of cookies and bacon.  And poutine. God, I really love that stuff, way too much.

RL

An Impact Statement on The Kindness of Strangers and the Love Of Friends

It was never a post I’d expected to write and this is hardly what I’d imagined as a post to mark my blog’s 7th anniversary (March 17th), and with apologies to my regular readers, some of this will be a bit of a repetition of circumstances previously written.

I know most of us never dream we’d write or live through the events I’d laid out. We know terrible things happen, but generally we feel safe that they happen to other people – over there. There is simply any place that helps us hold onto the fantasy that any distance from them is a protective cover for the rest of us.

When I got the call in January that my sister in Arizona was found on her bedroom floor unable to stand or speak properly and the concern revolved around possible strokes, in short order, I went into numb mode. That place where we don’t know what to feel, or maybe there’s too much feeling and there’s an *overwhelmed* switch that’s automatically tripped. We’d just been unwinding the numbing shock of the loss of one of our children only 20 days earlier. Maybe it was just continued numbness.

Some hours into news like this, we realize we must act and then thinking revs up again. What’s needed? Who will do what? When do we do whatever it is we figure we need to do? How can we support her kids? How will we do any of it? Then there are the really hidden thoughts, like, nope, I don’t want to be doing anything. This isn’t happening. This can’t even be real.

But, it is real, and very shortly after, we learned the real issue was a brain tumor. A very nasty, aggressive beast of a tumor. The scans showed it nearly covered a quarter of her brain, literally pushing it to one side. She had emergency surgery within 48 hours of being found on her floor and they were able to take out 99% of it. The surgeon said if she hadn’t made in when she did, it was unlikely she’d have lived another day or two. God, real, is a bitch.

Her cancer is never going away though. That’s a hell of a new normal to adjust to. They hope to help us keep her for up to 18 more months with heavy-duty radiation and chemo over several weeks. The days seem to fly by faster than ever. I avoid morbid activities like looking at calendars and counting back. I’m not always successful.

A rising sense of panic pushes me back to the questions about action. The more recent events of her world make sense now. Like, why did she suddenly quit her job and lose her health insurance and benefits? She couldn’t remember. It didn’t make sense to her either while she attempted to retrace her steps before the surgery. She couldn’t remember anything from 3 months prior. They have no idea how long ago that thing invaded her head.

We clearly had some heavy-duty work to do to sort how she will live until the end of this new normal inevitably. There was no way we could manage this on our own; we put out calls for help. That’s another exercise in faith and hope. When catastrophe strikes and you realize how bound you are in immediate helplessness, fear introduces itself in yet another incarnation. Who would even answer that call? Would anyone and if they did, would it be enough?

It turned out I wasn’t as alone as I’d feared. Friends responded with a generosity I couldn’t have imagined; even from a few that I’d never dreamed would be able to help. Yes, your $5 mattered, just as much as the gifts of $100 or more. I was on a plane within 3 days to get to her. They helped me get to her and hold her. They helped me get to look into her eyes and tell her, I love you. … It’s too hard to describe what all that feels like.

Those caring superheroes helped me get to the myriad mounds of paperwork needed to apply for assistance from myriad areas with their myriad requirements. Let me tell you, I don’t know how any of these agencies expect a patient to manage this. There was no way my sister had the ability to read through all the materials, let alone sort, fill-out and acquire the necessary documentation. Getting to that work alone was a huge step. After that, we’d had most medical and home expenses taken care of until at least the end of April.

How do you describe how much that means? I don’t know how to tell people just how much of a difference, how much of an impact their gifts create. I don’t think it’s possible to thank them at par value, I’m just so grateful that they accept my pitiful attempts anyway.

It was so hard to leave her. I wish it could be me that’s driving her to appointments, or shopping for her groceries, or just sitting next to her while we zone out in sister land in front of Netflix. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for the services that we got to help her with that much, but I think you know what I mean.

I don’t know what the next steps will be, and we do know the calls for help will continue, for as long as it takes, but we’re taking it one day at a time. These are the experiences that crystalize that notion for us. Day by day, minute by minute. I can only pray that we’ll receive what we need and that we see the beauty there is to see and feel the grace we’re meant to, while we can. One day at a time.

Kininiskimotin, all my relations.

RL

Sister, Reva, her son, Jacob, and our beloved step-dad and mom.

The Final Gift

Visions upon visions,

dreams and dreams,

lost, stolen, taken; gone.

Poets with their poetry of loss,

compete to buff out the latest cracks;

futile puffery, all of it.

Nothing will compare to that gift,

a small click of connection,

the implausibility; the impossibility – that would turn it into the last…

Hope solidified, flat and stark, into knowledge,

that love now lies in the breath of angels,

until we all finally, maybe even wholly, see again.

A few coins laid across the past,

a final gesture of love,

the only one left that could be made in his name.

RL

Sammy

January 17, 1997 – January 1, 2020

Beloved nephew

Friday Funnies; ‘Cause, Just ‘Cause

So, life. Amirite?

I can’t complain too much. Life’s been a whirlwind of some of the coolest experiences of my life and only mildly tempered by my amazing talent to step in it once in a while.

That’s yesterday’s news. Today, it’s about letting go and living for a ha-ha or two. Apologies in advance for any lame jokey joke efforts; the year’s still been a bit long, eh? 🙄

…Take one if you need one, leave one if you don’t?
It’s that cat thing.
Take your time, they said; it’ll be fun, they said…
G’head, g’head – they’ll just think it’s the turkey anyway. Why didn’t anyone give me this recipe decades ago?

Obligatory PSA

How long it take ya?
Yup. M hmmm.
Marketing. Attention, Marketing, clean up in aisle 9
Me-owwwww…
Geez, it’s Christmas, Karen.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to wish me a broken leg, now’s your chance. I got a couple little acting jobs this year – for a continuation in the life file labeled: Things I never thought I’d do. It’s been loads of fun and this latest one is a Christmas play, natch. It’s an original around the idea of decolonizing Christmas, which may sound bigger than it need.

The simple truth of it is, winter solstice celebrations have occurred all over the world for millennia. Most didn’t look like the current idea of what traditional Christmas looks, not even actual Christmas, and that’s a point worth reviewing. I won’t give away the plot here, but I would wonder what some might guess what a decolonized Christmas would look like?

Have a lovely weekend!

RL

Shameless

I know it doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it, there will always be people who will ridicule you. They’ll talk about you, jeer, dismiss, and even attempt to undermine you. A good number of times, one will endure that from their own family. I’ve encountered all of that and I suppose I could always be a target for that mentality at any time and in any place. That’s just the really shitty side of life. That side comes from people who have yet to really dig deep into their own issues. What I’ve learned about that is, I’m not obligated to stay in that place with them – no matter who they are.

Despite a lifetime of being told it was a fruitless endeavor, there was good reason why I headed back 20 years ago to the community of my childhood. The fact that the community happened to be Indigenous was both inconsequential and utterly life saving.

I’d spent years looking for ways to understand why there was such a messed-up history that wrecked my nuclear family. Yes, it’s wonderful that much of the generation after mine has made great strides in the efforts of home ownership and good jobs, but behind all of that is that big black hole that still trails us. None of that is resolved by a good job, a nice home, an education, nor in running across or from the country. I did all of that first.

That black hole was borne in place of my familial history when I was taught my community, my relatives, my grandmothers and grandfathers were the cause of our life’s woes. Much like they are still said to be the bane of Canada and ‘its purse strings’. Because of that, I was meant to deny my own heritage and I followed through with it, like many in my immediate family still do.

I did my best to be a good Canadian woman who strives to be a success. Except, when your foundation is based in a self-loathing that no one, including myself, seemed to understand, all that hard work can go up in smoke as quickly as it takes to get into a really bad relationship or receive a phone call that informs you are seriously ill. Those were my turning points.

I’d spent years trying to figure out the basis of that self-loathing. Counseling helped me deal with emotional ups and downs and during the moments when it would intensify to unbearable, but in too many instances, it only served to confuse me further. Applying standard accredited counseling services to an Indigenous inter-generational trauma survivor was woefully inadequate and sometimes even more harmful.

An example was a group therapy effort where I was advised the point of my issues was a deep internal desire to be in a sexual relationship with the woman who had driven me to the ‘retreat’. Another was asking me to not only re-create a scene of sexual abuse, but to do it in front of an entire group. I left any support services for quite a while after the work of that eye-crossing frustration. Therapy created in absence of truth, the truth – still mostly unknown to all even today, is just more marginalization of Indigenous peoples.

When those old moments of inexplicable fears arose again, I turned to other methods of coping. Art projects, writing, loads of volunteering or Al-Anon – which was great support, but incomplete. Then I went back to the idea that a super, new job title was the answer after all. Three additional years of corporate abuse dispelled that notion for good.

As it turned out, underneath it all, I did know what I feared most– being seen for who I really was. That was one of the concepts they’d told me about years before, but the thing is, that was wrong too. Because as it is for most, it really all boiled down to being seen for all that had happened to me – and my mother, and her mother – for generations, and for what I’d done in all the processes to cope with that.

So, despite all that running, in the end, I edged my way back to that place I feared most – that black hole. To the source of all the pain and rage and searing sadness. To that place that is my Indigeneity. To that place where apparently, any value as a realized human is only partial for us, according to school, neighbors, Canadian politics, and the punitive digs by a few of my own chosen relationships.

I was never going to know about me until I saw the real me, the whole me, desperately in need of being heard by anyone who could truly know the very real and distinct intricacies of the Indigenous journey in Canada – and that sure as hell wasn’t on the couch of a Freudian-oriented psychiatrist.

It could only be found back among my own, with my own relations where they knew what I was saying with only a third of the words. Where they knew what I was feeling without having to provide every denigrating detail, and far more importantly, they knew everything behind the whys. They carried the key and it was what I needed to finally fill in that hole of debilitation.

I wrote this because despite reams of paper trails to show what this journey entailed and why I am where I am today, I am still in the line of fire for derision. Despite the triumph of being armed with the understanding of my own culture and its incredible value, I am now ridiculed for standing up for it, even from some family.

Canada has claimed dominion over many of us, and I understand the ease of giving in, but I carry centuries worth of family knowledge. That history matters. I understand exactly why the events that occurred happened. I understand them on multiple levels and that’s what killed the shame that was never mine to carry in the first place. I stand up for my mother and my grandmothers because I am them and I was always meant to embrace that.

This is a country that still must answer for my family and so many others who are still swept away in the daily mixed messages of what it means to be Indigenous within it. It’s a horrible shame those messages remain; it’s devastating to know they’re still being internalized at all – on both sides of the equation.

RL