I have the saying “Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Always” written on my wall in decals. I try to live by this motto or mantra. I truly do try to do all three of these things, which brings me to the topic of my blog. I read an article yesterday in a First Nations Newspaper where the columnist felt that the word Aboriginal is a derogatory word used to identify them by others. I have thought about this article since reading it.
I have always had a special place in my heart for First Nations individuals, their culture and their experience. When I was in grade school I had very few friends. One of the kindest friends I had, who got me through a lot was a beautiful First Nation young woman named Sheena. She was my closest friend for a short while before she moved away. Sheena and her sister were kind, respectful of others and of the incredible earth we live on. They taught me a great deal about life, culture, respect and nature. I loved everything about their culture that they shared with me. That is when my journey first started.I have reconnected with them through Facebook and my life continues to be touched by their kind, respectful of all life, loving spirits.
Starting in my early teens I became extremely interested in world issues like poverty, water supplies, violence and injustice. My heart and mind were filled with compassion and genuine worry for the individuals suffering such tragic conditions. At the age of 12 or 13 I put all my babysitting money in an envelope simply addressed “Ethiopia” with a note saying I was praying for them to get rain and wished I could do something. (six months later I got a postcard from an Ethiopian Aid Worker thanking me…I still have it in a photo album somewhere). That worker, Nathanel, will always be in my heart because the few people who knew what I did thought I was stupid and that a mailman would be having lunch on me. He instilled in my heart that you can make a difference, that it is not stupid to try and anything is possible.
I had maps on my wall with pins showing where there was drought and hunger and violence and follow news stories wondering how we could live in the same world and not be doing more to help them.
But what could I do? I had no money, no resources, nothing to offer them. I sent my prayers and thoughts but they were on the other side of the world, far away. I couldn’t do anything. Then I heard a news story about some Reserves right here in Canada, within hours of where I live that had no clean water, no heat in the winter, no school, not enough health services or support for youth, families and communities. I was mortified to think this was happening here. How could this happen in our own country. Well, now that is was on the news we would all help them. We would let them know we were sorry we didnt know they were suffering and we would make it right. But we did know….I was more mortified. I started to do more research and completely overwhelmed with horror to see how we have treated First Nation descendants through history. To see how much suffering we let children, families and communities go through. I was even more astounded that we still provide so little support or caring. I was embarrassed that I could be living so close to those in need and be doing nothing about it.
There are hundreds of First Nation children and women that have gone missing or been murdered and yet there is no major outcry, it is just another story in the middle of the paper. We don’t wrap the community in love for their tragic loss and do everything we can to help ease their pain…I am sorry to the families and communities that have lost so many of their sisters, daughters and mothers. I am more sorry that I have not shown my support and love by doing more. I try now, a little at a time. I share posters and news stories, I write blogs and participate in awareness campaigns. I can still do more. When you go to search for your sisters, when you hold a vigil I will do what I can to help. I will knock on doors or hand out flyers, I will write blogs and contact media. We are meant to love each other. When one of us suffer all of us suffer. It is not enough to say how bad I feel for another’s pain. I can do more. I can help bring healing and love to communities and be a support to youth who have lost loved ones and mothers who are paralysed with pain and loss. Find a way to bring confidence, comfort and support to their lives.
First Nation youth are killing themselves so much that suicide is a leading cause of death and yet we don’t reach out to them and show them love and find a way to help them. I cry at the pain that these youth feel, how alone they believe they are that they take their own lives. This is an emergency. How can we not do anything. So I have spent months creating a program to help create hope, love, respect, and change. I have been calling the program in all my past posts the “Aboriginal Youth Leadership Program”. I never intended or meant any disrespect to any First Nation individual by using this term. My program has been truly created out of love and a strong desire to help every youth I can reach their potential, see their infinite worth and that they are appreciated and can do anything in life. I will forever more entitle my program “First Nation Super Heroes” . I hope when we become offended that we always take a moment to not just consider the words used, but the intentions of the heart behind them.