First Nation issues, Historical Trauma and Self-empowerment strategies

A creative space to share what I am learning on my healing journey

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. - Buddha
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Permissions and use of EarthTALKER intellectual property

I have been mulling over the posting of a “author permission clause” or “use of work” clause since this is an area of my life that is very new. While it may be quite late to post as I am in my second year of blogging, I’ve decided a good opportunity to share teachings related to “sources”

While our communities originally passed our culture on through oral teachings and sharing, I have heard that we ALWAYS acknowledge our sources.
Times have changed. People, however have not. Some still take teachings and incorporate them as their own without acknowledging sources.
Despite the changes, our teachings still persist. Respect. Integrity. Sharing.
Respect the work:
A lot of what is written in the accompanying pages was gained through hundreds (perhaps thousands) of hours in consultation with Elders, friends, in ceremony, meditation and stillness. I share it freely because it may help someone else.
If it is useful to you – GREAT!
Take what you need and leave the rest. Another Elder wisdom :)

It would be great if you would link back to EarthTALKER or quote as “Amy Desjarlais – of EarthTALKER but you don’t have to…your integrity is your own, your karma is your own. Generally, if I have found something useful, I try to support the original source, it’s respectful to the WISDOM, to the individual who shared it, and to the people or community that supports that individual.

If I share a wisdom and generally mention “the Elders” it’s because many people from many different instances share the same notion, not always in the same way but the sentiment is similar.
If a teaching is specific to that Elder and I haven’t heard it somewhere else, I would try quote the Elder specifically, or by place, event, community.
If I learned something through video, audio, website, etc. I also try to link back and mention where I received the inspiration, or source. Sometimes we come across people who came up with similar thoughts, if you find something you’ve written that is similar, let me know and we can also link up. I’d love to share or circulate your messages and teachings too, if you are open to doing so!

Appropriation, Acculturation, Assimilation and Sharing are not synonymous. Use of the words found here and incorporation of these teachings in your life does not entitle you to self-identify as Indigenous, qualify you as “bi-cultural”, or multi-cultural, an Elder, Indian, Native, First Nations or traditional healer. Unless of course, your community has recognized you as such. That being said, we are all on a journey, I appreciate your stopping by.

Sharing these teachings is not a means of “vetting” anyone, or as a conclusive healing program or therapy.
If you are experiencing troubling issues in your life, I urge you to seek an Elder from your area or local therapist in your life who can help you regain balance, and get back on the path.
A work in progress these terms may change slightly from time to time. Always a good idea to send me a note if you aren’t sure about something.
- Miigwetch, and good journey!

Wealth, a discussion

So, dear readers…I am incubating some posts on finances, the notion of wealth and contributions.
To say the least, tonight is quite the evening.
I’ve had many realizations lately and many of them are teaching me how to stand tall, stand up for my beliefs, fight for what is right and worth fighting for.
I leave you with the idea of give-aways. It is said that our people host celebrations and measure the wealth of an indvidual not by how much they own, but how much they give-away and share with community.
I have taken many of those teachings to heart and for the last several years on my birthday I buy carnations and strawberries to share with the local seniors program. It is my way of showing them how much I appreciate them just for being. When I find my little apartment feeling crowded, I host a giveaway and send my treasures out to brighten someone elses day.
A minimalist life is what I am chosing to live and inspire in others.
Hopefully the trend is catching on and we can end living in a wasteful, ungrateful and over cluttered society…

Building a future, staying present

Sitting here alone in my livingroom. Easter Bunny weekend. I find myself dreaming about the future. Building a future, some momentum, finally. What do I see there in the future? I picture alone…yet, as I sit and watch movies of couples falling in love, I feel small pangs…of something. Perhaps it is the joy of watching two people in love, commencing the dance.
It has been sometime since I’ve glimpsed the future, any future and given some thought to what it may be. I guess I’ve been engulfed in healing that i haven’t really had energy to think about anything else. People ask me about life insurance plans and retirement savings, college funds, RRSPS. These things don’t mean much to me, even though on some level they should. It seems to me our society has effectively convinced us to continuously give out money away “just-in-case” this is how we let other people “invest” our money. Its funny we just give our money away.
Yet, the fact that I am finally giving some thought to building a future, I get to decide what it looks like. A partner? Perhaps, someone that has done his healing…and continues to work on himself. A good father, I don’t want to have to teach him.
Perhaps there will continue to be absence, perhaps i have had my walk with a partner. Healing work may not allow time for someone else. Who knows, I cannot see anyone else in my current version on my future. Its all ok.
I search for healthy attachment, healthy love. Not addiction. No hiding from the world…in euphoria.
Someone who doesn’t scare me or cause me to doubt myself. Who isnt afraid to be honest with his feelings.
as I walked down the street with my boy today, I mused that it would be nice to have someone in my life that loved to bring me flowers everyday…I never used to like flowers but I see how very important they are to life…they remind us of the beauty, delicate joy and fragility of life. That fleeting beauty.
I dream of a life that is kind to the earth. A solitary world where I meditate and train and heal and help.
People come and go. People come to connect.
I have some very concrete ideas, some clear pictures and have had a very frank discussion with myself about honesty. Following my heart, no matter what. With, no regrets.

Eventually I will live into my dreams…until then, I continue to wonder and dream. Believing in myself that one day they will come true. Loved into being

The generational difference 1975-2014

I was chatting with co-workers today about a thought that occurred to me recently. I’m in my late thirties, Thirty-six to be exact (I don’t mind saying so, I’ve worked hard to make it to this age clean/sober/alive with a job & a roof over my head…I’ve earned every single year…damned proud to share it) anyway, the thought was that at my age…my mother already had ten children…one for every year of my son’s life.
To me, this is astounding information.
By the age of thirty-six my mom had populated a tiny village of people…with the help of my dad of course!
My oldest sister was seventeen-ish and the first grand child was a mere three years away.
My first grandchild is hopefully still approximately 15-20 years away. After, my son has established himself in his own life.
I find these differences extremely interesting…and a testament to the powerhouse that was my mother. Here’s a little bit about what was going on in the world when my mom turned 36.
In 1975:
~our reserve was still called Parry Island
~Under Trudeau, the Liberals had tried to take away our distinct legal status in Canada with the 1969 white paper
~ The Wounded Knee occupation was still very fresh in everyone’s mind having ended two years earlier on May 8, 1973
~ Leonard Peltier had not yet been convicted.
~ Elvis was still alive.
~ Native women who married non-native men lost their Indian status essentially becoming “non-indians” and unable to live on-reserve
~ The Vietnam War ends April 30 where total deaths numbered approx. 3.1 million (Wikipedia)
~ Residential schools were still operational across Canada
~ A imperial gallon of Regular unleaded gas cost $0.37 (1gallon is just shy of 4 litres!)
~ On March 24th 1975 the Beaver became the official emblem of Canada
~ It was legal for Indians to hire lawyers, practise customs & traditions something that was outlawed until 1951
~ Indians had been voting for 15 years, when Diefenbaker gave us the vote in 1960.
~ Colour television transmission was just beginning

Wow, what a different world that was back then!
Interesting trip through this little “time capsule” hope you enjoyed it. I wonder what kind of world we will see when my boy turns 36!

Posting from the line

So, I’m posting from the line up in Walmart. An epic shopping trip that I constantly try to avoid.
I think it started out with good intentions, though these shopping trips grow more perilous…to my waistline and my wallet.
I came in the hopes of gaining more materials for my sons regalia. Except. That didn’t work out. Groceries won out over that war for my spending power.
It seems more and more difficult to make a penny stretch. Single motherhood teaches frugality.
Not that I’m complaining. I take responsibility for my poor spending habits and my recent run in with NetFlix. I guess certain experiences and financial upheaval has taught me many things. I have learned that i am still finding my voice and learning to take a stand, find a belief that I would fight for and one I would die for.
My turn in line…i wish it was the lotto line and i had a million dolllar winner in my hand :(
Its times like these that really test your faith and balance. Understanding how very important it is to continue to carry those things you have picked up to replace the ones you let go. Pray for others who have less than you do, and to be grateful for what you do have…

Change is afoot, more of the same

I have had few words to share lately… massive amounts of emotion, towers crumbling, empires overrun, and entire lifetimes shattered. Last year, I encountered a single Crow feather…a simple yet profound message, prepare for change.
What I have noticed over the past couple of years living with a boy who is quickly growing into a young man, is how much of the patterns arise…often I glimpse his father in some quirk or habit my boy unconsciously performs.
What I have also noticed are the patterns in life…things I disliked about married life coming back to haunt…picking up after, lack of motivation, dependency on technology, past time spent watching movies…all of these things reflect back to me and I dread what his future girlfriends are going to endure.
What sort of qualities and respect do I demand?
The other day, we were getting on the streetcar and there was an older woman in front of us, she was a bit slow climbing the stairs…my son, decided to zip past her onto the streetcar. I was not happy. I told him that either he helps or waits for his aunties to get on the streetcar. Its respectful.
Even in this “contemporary” world, we need to demand a certain level of respect from our children.
Teachings like, help out around the house, Offer your assistance if you see someone working doing the laundry or cooking. Mindfulness, courtesy and kindness…all very nice qualities. Hopefully I am raising a kind, respectful and responsible son.
I often wonder what it is about my life, my hang ups that bring the “unwanted” behaviours back to haunt me? Am I not communicating clearly? perhaps I lack consistency or conviction. Perhaps the most dreaded…not following through.
Empty threats are likely the least useful weapon in my arsenal…and the most used. Often saying things I don’t mean, out of simple frustration…
Not requiring more of people, or letting others off the hook. These sorts of things do not demand respect…and nice girls finish last.
What am I to think of people that don’t support their children, steal money from their exes and disrespect the other parent in front of the children. Do we say nothing. Do nothing?
Often times partners will not ask for anything because of guilt, feeling over responsible for breaking up the home. Be mindful of the other partner needing to get on their feet. Though people do not earn respect in this way. Excuses…and enabling the behaviour is where it gets you.

Growing up in an alcoholic, abusive home, I don’t remember anyone teaching me to stand up for myself and demand better. I thought I was doing a good thing by being understanding, kind and considerate.
Yet, it is always misconstrued and yes, taken for granted.
Takers generally do not recognize kindness and generosity unless it has some sort of payoff for them…nor do they consider repaying it.
Takers will just bleed you dry and discard the limp mess left behind when it suits them.

Lately I find myself tired, and depressed. Emotional and struggling to find footing. Change is afoot…lets see how we’ll survive this one…after all the last time I saw a Crow feather, I ended up moving to Toronto, getting a whole new job, and starting my life over again…I wonder what impending changes are coming? and do I have enough energy to reinvent myself once more? I have faith that all things will be well…

A lament of our homelands

Seven generations have there lived.
I sit with tears in my eyes.
Watching the Royalty waltz haughtily
in my homelands.

Mushkadoe bezhiki ran into the heavens,
reunited with our kin.
Those of us left, face the sharpness
of their words, and indifference.

Our greatest orators inspired us
their words echo into today
our greatest warriors fight
still live in our love

I am ashamed. In disgrace…
Words they want to hear.
Yet, I speak them defiantly
and with great truth behind them

I am ashamed to be part of a world
that cannot take responsibility
for a world of their own creating
for an infirmity of their own making

A world in disgrace.
Unseeing eyes, and voiceless
There once used to be a place
for peasants

Now that place is above.
Never to go without again,
full of fear to go without
never seeing, never seeing

the family that cared,
the family that shared
Ingratitude, and endlessly
taking, taking.

Oh Creator, see us through
this devastation.
Be there as you always have.
See us through once again

Help us to pray together…
Help us to continue to pray
through this pain…
through the ignorance…

Help us to love that which is
Even though you cannot see,
even though you destroy,
even though our homelands are
unrecognizable to us

Let us love.
And continue to love the gifts
given to us by you oh Creator,
Let us be grateful
Let us be generous

Let us live in a way that we carry
our heads high,
because we remember your teachings.
Walk softly on our mother…

Let us love and be proud once again
in the lands of our ancestors.
Let our tears flow like the raging waters
in our beautiful streams,

Let our grief be lifted on the winds
and carried to you, oh Creator…
Help us to pray,
to live a straight life…

Bitter awareness and loving truth

On the way home tonight, I walked out the door of a local establishment and noticed a sign celebrating “Asian history month”. Immediately on the heels of this thought, was another…I wonder why they don’t celebrate a “White or Caucasian History month” Aren’t they proud of their accomplishments? Do they not have anything to be proud of? oh, wait…ya…nevermind.
It’s interesting that we dedicate a month to celebrating individual groups of cultures, Black history month, and yes! there is an Aboriginal history month, it’s in June in Canada, not November.
Why does everyone think its ok to dedicate only a month…why not all year round? Why not make changes to Canada’s official language policies to incorporate some of the most representative languages in this region.
I’d like to rant about this multicultural tolerance but I just don’t have the energy tonight. Instead, I make the observation and then offer forgiveness.
And, then I move on to stuff that really deserves my full attention and focus, like how much I’ve grown in the last little while.
I became aware the last few weeks that along with Trauma survivor, Adult child of alcoholics, I can now admit I also deal with bouts of depression. I had never really experienced this until the last few years but I’ve noticed it more in the last little while…and until a friend said it, never really saw it. I mean, I thought that was for other people. Well, now it’s for me too.
I habe also found a nice little collective of spiritualists who also encounter this experience and how nice it is to be able to discuss it openly and with a slant toward slightly interesting “comparing notes” or best practices on the subject matter. What I’ve also observed is “regular people” would rather send you to a professional to deal with you than to offer their friendship or support. It’s interesting how we’ve come so far from being able to relate to one another in relationship that we’d prefer to give referrals than a listening ear. No one wants to take responsibility, or take the time to take an interest. I think that’s what gets us in certain predicaments in the first place…perhaps a slightly skewed perspective, bit there it is none-the-less. Again just an observation I’ve made.
These sorta of life events really tell you who the people are that truly are there for you, and who are the ones in your life that maybe you may not want but need in your path. The ones that make you stronger with their barbed words, actions and indifference.
If no one makes any effort, they everyone sits around wondering why the other person isn’t coming to take an interest…it’s because they’re waiting for you…to make the move first.
It’s all about cutting off the energy bleeds and storing up my energy for what truly makes me thrive, savong parts pf myself for me so I can truly shine and give light and love.
Oh! tonight my cup runneth over…what a true blessing!

Creating New Dreams

Imagine a time,
when alliances were made out of necessity.
Imagine a time when our people
truly were free.
Destinies our own, loyalties UN-divided.
Promises were made
in hope of humanity.
Slaves in writing, bound by ink and pen
freedom became a distant yen.

Grandfathers, we move forward as if in molasses
slowly, slowly…our spirits dimmed
The newcomers swarmed like ants on candy
and they never ended their relentless search
Now they want us to be like them…no.
They still want us to become “civilized” like them.
It is their mantra “be like me” but all I see is greed and mayhem.
When will it stop? This unending need to change and mould us in a likeness that is not our own.
When will they recognize our contribution. Our gift to society.
I guess when they can claim it as their own.

I dream of a distant time…
when our people will once again roam free like the buffalo once did, a great dark massive earth thunder
Moving like a storm cloud over the earth. A great rumbling thunder we can feel moving as one:
I dream of a distant time when our people are welcomed by the masses with love in their eyes instead of fear.
I dream of a time when our people can once again be strong, stand tall and proud of their light.
I dream of a time when our contributions are recognized, respected and remembered.
I dream of a time when all of Mother Earth sings in celebration as the last of the deep cutting wounds are healed and her gifts renewed.
I dream of a time when the waters run free, flowing as they need, unencumbered by splints and falsehomes
I dream of a time when our languages will once again be heard across the lands.

Before that day, our people will need to be strong
find their feet
feel worthy as they truly are.
We will need to see one another as a gift instead of a pain.
Our lives used to be so hard, but our people were strong…
after all of these years,
may we once again know that strength as you did.

Help us to let go of that which we cannot change and concentrate on that which we can…
Our dreams live into being,
Help us to dream big and kind and wonderous,
Grandfathers, so much time has passed, so much has been forgotten.
Our people have found their voices, we are speaking out and praying…for one another
I dream…

Entering the unknown eventual

I have found another spiral. A descent into another unknown, an underground cavern of my own devising.
This place is called “when-you-let-go-of-the-practise”. It happens when routine, regime, discipline is disrupted and while in the chaotic underbelly of the culprit…travel, illness, sudden house guests, sickness, and fatigue…some of the life boats you caught while in the flow of addiction and well-being get over-turned. Once again, you are set adrift in a sea of tumult.
Something happened in the last little while and the disorganized, absent-minded, messy, angry, unmindful and lazy person I’ve managed to successfully tuck away in the corners seems to have made her appearance.
In every forgotten or double-booked appointment, In the stacks of laundry washed but unfolded and wrinkled. In the piles of dirty dishes stacked in my dusty, cat fur-lined home, in the unkempt hair and odd fashion-sense that is the woman walking about in my life…she seems to have taken over 24-7. I can’t contain her any longer, whats worse is I seem to keep coming up with excuses, that sound so convincing…that the work-my life’s work remains unfinished. The books waiting to be birthed remain lost in the dust-filled annals of my mind. The songs waiting to be birthed lay still-born and forgotten on some shelf in my brain.
I’m afraid that the gifts I was given so generously will soon be reclaimed if I cannot work up the courage to birth them into the world. If I can’t love myself enough to give them life, I’m afraid that I will lose them to someone more deserving. Someone worthy.
If I can’t get it together!
And so…the woman, small and full of fear hides behind her responsibities, hides behind the façade, except the façade is falling away.
No, I don’t have it together. Not in the least.
If I did, I wouldn’t be hiding behind my lack of financial stability, the unfinished legalities, the roles and responsibilities of parenthood…citing these things as the reasoning for my inertia. I wouldn’t be stuck and making up excuses like a lack of trust in the Government as my reasoning for not wanting to apply for grants to complete my work. There is a certain “pride” almost “vanity” in not subjecting myself to a grant application process for a Canadian artist grant. I can’t bring myself to accept blood money…that’s how I see it…
And so, projects remain…in my head.
I cannot bring myself to make anyone else “look good” for the simple and singularly selfish purpose of bringing life to my creations. I want them to be pure…
I want them to be untainted by greed. Untainted by selfishness, or a certain pretense.
There is some belief there that I cannot for the life of me convince myself to let go of…other artists say that you can do something with the messages if you get the grant…except, I just see it as compromise. I see myself as the sell-out. Perhaps there is some past life or ancestral pain there…certainly, there is pain.

I had the thought today that having someone in my life as a partner would help in lighting that fire of inspiration inside. The lack of a feeling of being “desired”, “wanted” or “loved” is what has caused this listlessness. This apathy.

What’s happened is I’ve forgotten the practise of loving myself and revealing to myself all the ways I am loved…by creation, by myself. I have let the ego and emotions run rampant. They have turned my home upside down, even knocked out a few walls. My spiritual home is a mess, and it is not done..not by a long shot. I feel a great massive storm brewing. Changes on a massive scale, impending LOSS. Already I am distancing myself. Already I am cutting loose the casualties of the latest perfect storm. I am reviewing the holes in my boats, the cracks in the wall where cold wind whistles through. Where am I leaking precious energy that distracts from my love, from my practise.
Who are the people that take instead of adding to my life.
What are the ways that bring joy.
A certain carelessness ensues. Wreckless abandon. A devotion…no a desperate grasping to the life-rope. Find her. Seek her in that rubble, in the foaming dark seas, in that blackness. Find her and hold fast.
Never, ever let her go.
She is your salvation. Love her like never before.
Love her like the air embraced by your lungs…necessary. So necessary.
Love her desperately, madly, deeply. She is your muse.
She is your inspiration.
Love her.
Just love her…and let her know it.
Never ler her forget how loved she is.
Shout it from the roof-tops.

Winds of change

I took a step.
The other day.
On the way home from an event our streetcar just happened to short-turn four stops before our usual stop. Along the way is a vintage store I gripe about so often that my son has taken up my litany…”what does vintage clothing have to do with an Eagle statue and an imitation headdress anyway??”
I have passed this store nearly every day since it opened awhile back, two or more years ago. I never really noticed it until one day, I read an article about a supermodel wearing a headdress.

The awakening caused me to check myself, as if…there was something I needed to pay attention to here and its important about self-perceptions.

I never really had the courage to just go and ask the questions I wanted to ask, so instead, I griped. Until the other day.

Maybe it was because we had to walk by it again on the way home, maybe because someone mentioned it not long ago, maybe because I had some extra time to walk at my leisure, maybe a lot of things…though on that day, I chose to stop and go inside so I could ask the questions I wanted to ask for so long.
The store was as I imagined it at first…a small room cluttered with over-priced old clothes. It’s vintage – of course.
There was a large kimono on display along one wall, and as I approached the bunker of a sales desk, a black lady sporting a faux-hawk greeted us. She must have saw the lack of vintage wear I was dressed in because she immediately returned her attention to her computer.
I glanced at work table in front of the sales desk and saw a half finished beaded medallion, a couple of patterns, a completed rosette, and a few other works-in-progress. I was gathering courage, you see…idling through the wares of this new lesson, pretending to shop.

As I went to ask the woman the questions that sat heavily in my chest, another patron walked in…wanting to chat, so the two caught up as we explored the vintage with an extended vantage. I think I forgot to breathe. I was busily fixing phrases in my mind as I glanced distractedly at old dresses and coats and jackets.
What do I say and how do I say it, I wondered as I explored the racks of shoes and entered rooms of hosts guests. Shoes, belts, and window dressing. Then, in a large room…a fireplace crackled, mannequins stood solemnly watching the wares and gossiping together in muted, silence. I spied, there across the room was a painting. It was our fair owner in a wonderous side-posed portrait, head tilted upward gazing at some unknown sky, wearing a bone and bead choker…
Puzzled, I must have frowned, cocked my head, maybe heard the flames flickering as more questions flooded in…
Slowly among the hanging bodies of elderly costumes. my son said quietly…Creepy, mom, let’s get out of here.
I felt it too. The age, the memories, the pregnant silence of the empty room.
I didn’t argue. As we re-emerged from the hallway to perdition, I heard myself say let’s go, but thought…just wait.
I need to ask these questions. Our fair hostess consumed with her facebook, conversing echoes hanging in the room from the last patron. I stopped.
I heard myself ask, “I’ve often wondered what it is you are trying to say with your window display…is there some message, some teaching you are trying to convey?”
The woman behind the desk quietly and solidly answered “Someone gave it to me, it is B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L”
“I always wondered”, I continued “the message” I repeated.
“Is it for sale?” the headdress, I meant. “No”, replied she, “I didn’t have any other space to display it’s beauty”…

I fell silent, heaviness descends as I contemplated the echoes i saw hanging there in the air. I glanced upward at the kinomo. “It’s old”, she continued. “embroidered”
A conversation ensued and I still wondered if I had questions that needed answering. Expectations that needed fulfilling. Anxieties that needed angsting over.
Do I ask, what community she is from? Do I ask who her teachers are? Do I ask…the questions that seems to grow from nowhere. Do I ask?
I turned a bid her a good day, and I collected my boy and we walked on that day.

I faced my questions and found many more. I know more than I did when I spent my time griping. I found I agreed with the observation of beauty. I found gratitude that I no longer wondered about the message, I asked, and found none.

I found more questions, a lot of old clothes, an empty store full of clothes, and stories and tales attached to threads and buttons and beads. I’m not quite sure how I feel about the encounter. I shrug, and continue to reflect, and write on.



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