Basic Teachings-Cultural Connection

Basic Teachings

Cultural Connection

For many of us and our varied traumatized pasts, the question is not always first–“Who am I?”. Rather, more often, it is the self-identification of realizing “who I am not”.

Growing up and still even today, I am often met with the response from others of, “why don’t you just think and act like the rest of us?!” Years ago I realized the answer–

Because I am not like “them”. First of all, I am like me. But a big part of life’s journey can be about trying to figure out exactly who and what that “me” is. So, on this medicine wheel of life, I started with: RESIST–Who I am not.

Realizing who I am not–leads naturally to the next one. RECLAIM–Where have I come from? For myself, it sent me on my journey to discover who my ancestors truly were. My father before his death when I was 9 years old had always made sure that I clearly understood that I was Metis. I was Indigenous. He had told me some stories, but over the years, without him around, some of those stories were fading in my mind. I needed to correct this, so I began my journey of asking–Where have I come from?

I started on Ancestry researching. I am so glad I made this step on my WALK. I discovered more about my ancestors and why I think, do, and act the way I do in society. It goes back to RESIST–Who I am not. By discovering the people in my past, I was able to ascertain even more about who I am not. This led to answers of who I am. And isn’t that a common question? Who am I?

For me, it was discovering that I am the descendant of Chipakijikokwe (Marie Louise Riel) and that I come from a line of rebels and people who advocate for their communities and fight for justice and equality. To me personally, this was a huge discovery and explained so much to me.

My journey of discovery, did take well over a year, however, was shorter than I’ve seen others on their journey of reclaiming. It is after all, the elusive chase of white man papers to prove mine and your identity. So if your journey is riddled with stones in your path and burnt churches, lost records, misrepresentation of ancestors’ identities, what can you do? You know in your heart the truth, but the paper can’t be found….

Local Indigenous Cultural Centres

Indigenous Cultural Centres are a place to start helping you on that healing journey of discovery. At the Muskoka Indigenous Friends Cultural Centre we have helped some find those elusive missing papers. Then their journey of RECLAIM can begin. Restoring what was taken away.

From there, the next question becomes–CONSTRUCT-Where am I going? To finally, ACT-What are my responsibilities?

But first…..

Indigenous Cultural Centres are a place to come in and sit on the sidelines for a while if that is what you need to do.

Perhaps it is to come in and grab a cup of soup and just listen to the conversation. A place where your silence is not looked at as anything but normal.

Because, we understand. We know what you need. You need the time and place to just feel safe, and then to feel trust.

Once trust is built within the community, then members of the Muskoka Indigenous Friends Cultural Centre can move forward on deeper paths of healing and action.

Indigenous Cultural Centres recognize that everyone is going at their own pace and on their own journey. Even though our canoes may all be in the same lake we are not all in the same canoe. It is okay to pass your paddle to help out someone in the next canoe, but it is not okay to get into their canoe or have them climb into yours. Why?

Because the simple answer is, the canoe will tip. Either theirs or yours. And then you are of no help to yourself or others. But by passing a paddle of assistance, demonstrating how to paddle, how to move forward–that is the real help. Our purpose as an Indigenous Cultural Centre is to show you a path, but remembering that the steps taken must be your own. Your journey will not be exactly the same as mine. We may share similarities, we may have huge differences, but we can both look and see that we are in the motion of WALK–We Are Like Kin.

And because of this kinship, we can be there to support each other in talking circles, cultural activities, perhaps even to help each other locate missing family members due to the great disconnection through various government policies that affected so many of us. But most of all, we accept you for who you are, right where you are at this moment in time…Aanii, Boonzhoor, She:kon, Hello, and Welcome……

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