No use pretending men using power to control people for their sexual desires is new or limited to Hollywood

We should all know this honestly.

So I had to make this.

If you look up these people and read articles about them, you’ll be able to put things together of peoples stories around you. I’m not saying we should fear one another, but we need to recognize rape culture.

How can we change anything if we don’t notice and awaken to the signs?

It seems we are at a point of figuring out how to dismantle this rape culture that’s existed for centuries and is rooted in colonialism. Colonialism is rooted in theft of land. Colonialism = raping and killing and then blaming the victims and calling them crazy for speaking the truth.

When I googled “convicted for sexually abusing” the second article on the search results was “the effects of lying about sexual abuse for the accuser and the accused” something along those lines.

I know this stuff is triggering for so many people, but this stuff has to come out for us to evolve as human beings.

And for those who say “Ok now what?”

Well it’s those who’ve committed wrongs who have to actually live the experience of feeling limited and confined.

When one has been a victim – we develop things like agoraphobia… a lot of the restriction and confinement comes from within. We stop going places for fear we’ll be a victim again. We feel shame, embarrassment and guilt.

Well, perpetrators have to live the reality that they have to face the feeling of shame and guilt.

You think any man whose attained any prestige was walking around feeling ashamed of what he did? No he was looking for his next victim. He was grinding down his victims’ will. And he felt good knowing he could end their career if they didn’t give into his perverse needs.

We don’t need to feel bad for them. Let them feel that guilt, shame and embarrassment. It’s their turn.

Do I believe in forgiveness. Yes. In my experience every perpetrator is a victim first. And many victims manage to hurt someone somehow.

All people are capable of abusive habits. All people. We are learning how to love the darkness. The negative.

That is how we end cycles.

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Endometriosis Information

I do not have endometriosis, but I’ve never quite FULLY understood the condition. A friend of mine laid it out fairly well, so I want to share what they wrote to me. 

Endometriosis is a very complex condition. There are only theories as to “how” this happens, but it seems like the 10-15% of women who have it, have it since birth, as it is present in about 10-15% of dead female fetuses.

Endo does not exactly spread, however, it is a progressive disease where the lesions of endometriosis infiltrate deeper into tissues over time. The lesions can be extremely painful, in many cases, ALL throughout the monthly cycle. The inflammation that is caused by endometriosis produces webs of scar tissue, binding into adhesions that can ‘stick’ organs and such together(this can be excruciating). The lesions themselves can kill sections of intestine, kidneys, ureters, bladder walls, lungs, thigh or abdominal muscle, cardiac muscle…… the list goes on! Properly excising the diseased tissue often requires collaboration between multiple surgeons due to the wide swath of organs and body regions that can be affected.

20374538_10159081205675704_6059181888771238286_n

Endometriomas of the ovary, also called chocolate cysts, are present in 30-40% of women with the disease, and they are often indicative of DIE(deep infiltrating endo) being present elsewhere in the pelvis/abdomen. Seen in the above images, chocolate cysts can be enormous, and they are heavy since they are packed tightly with old blood fluids. When my cyst has leaked, the pain has been so bad I have experienced paralyzation.

There are a few problems…… first off, there is no way to confirm or even truly diagnose endo without sending tissue off to pathology following a laparoscopic surgery. Women who do not have endometriomas, or who have small cysts……. their ultrasounds and MRIs can show nothing at all, and they can still end up with pervasive disease confirmed in and after surgery.

Doctors and even gynecologists are severely undereducated about endo. A life-altering and potentially fertility-stealing condition affecting 10-15% of women is apparently not important enough to take up more than a couple of pages in a textbook that barely warrants discussion.

endo pic

Women are pushed into hormonal treatments that can help symptoms, but also can cause side effects, and they ultimately fail to do anything to prevent the deeper manifestations of the disease from progressing.

Time to diagnosis is 8 YEARS on average. After diagnosis, women are sent in for ineffective ablation after ablation and many undergo unnecessary hysterectomies. The AVERAGE number of surgeries for endo is 9!! Nine is the average. No wonder the medical associations keep endo “in the dark” ~ what a fantastic cash cow.

The disease is different for each and every woman. Amount of endo does not always correlate to pain levels. In addition, some girls(ME) experience symptoms before even having their first period. My problems became over-the-top 4 years before I reached menarche. I had to live through 25 years of everyone telling me I have a problem, but it’s “in my head”……… and only now, now that I have a giant endometrioma can I be believed. The additional problem for me is that I likely have endometriosis on my diaphragm, so I am desperate for a true expert, and there are SO FEW experts around.

Teenagers NEED education about endometriosis. With knowledgeable professionals, endo CAN be caught and treated early, preventing girls and young women from having their lives stolen by this extremely common ‘hidden’ disease.

Additional information from my friend in regards to adenomyosis. 

The way I understand it, adenomyosis is kind of like having endometriosis inside of the uterus itself. Ladies with adeno seem to have the most crippling uterine cramps of all, and the issue can be accompanied by excessive bleeding, along with bleeding that can last for too many days.

Uterine Fibroids, and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction are a couple of other pelvic pain generators that can cause significant problems. I wanted to make sure to mention these other diseases because endometriosis is not the only one that gets overlooked. Many women with these debilitating problems get diagnosed incorrectly with things like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, IBS, Crohn’s Disease, and so on and so forth.

Below I will include links for your own reading and watching.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=217800515414059&id=100015523364836&hc_location=ufi

http://www.altfemmag.com/fractured-femininity-endometriosis-treatment-and-a-failure-of-feminism/

https://www.endogirlendostrong.com/single-post/2017/09/29/Endo-in-adolescents

https://themighty.com/2017/09/difficulty-finding-doctors-educated-endometriosis/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Endometriosis_Page

https://www.mamamia.com.au/marilyn-monroe-endometriosis/

BLOG #5 QUESTION: IF ‘COMPLETE EXCISION’ IS THE GOLD STANDARD FOR ENDOMETRIOSIS TREATMENT, WHY IS IT SO UNCOMMONLY OFFERED?

 

It’s been a while… and I’m still weird

With someone like me… If I were to say, “This. This part of me. It’s not gonna change until my dying day.” 

Because I am willing to go great depths… because I’ve been willing to change…

People take that as me giving up. 

That I’m strong enough or smart enough to change something about me that seems to be presenting a challenge in my life.
What if I’m not giving up?

What if I’m accepting.

When I say something can’t change I don’t see it as a flaw.

It’s the equivalent of my hair being brown, or my legs being long. 
Some parts of my character or personality are as solid as stone. 
I’d rather learn to work with them than against them. 
My two biggest challenges are that I feel extremely responsible and also desire radical change. It’s not a fun trait but it’s who I am. I’ll always want to be a responsible and accountable person. It may result in me being unwilling to take risks. Yet, I crave risks. It’s fun! That’s where learning happens. 
However, so often the risk taker is an individual. My responsible nature needs to ensure that I’m not just doing things for my own benefit. I want us all to benefit. I don’t want just myself to thrive. I want everyone to feel like they are thriving or have the potential to thrive as well. If it’s just me thriving, it feels like failure.
That is who I am. 

That is how I’ll always be. 

reflection 07/29/2017

For personal growth and shadow work…
As a child I spent a lotta years finding forgiveness and compassion for the people who killed my people in the thousands. Whose diseases dropped our people like flies… and whose narcissistic/misogynistic cultural beliefs obliterated even more of our people… whose elitism created suffering for the entire globe.
 
It was a battle of life and death.
 
It also included exploration of core beliefs, and changing them.
 
This was all intuitive for me. And then when I became an adult… that’s how I got the words “Finding/Changing Core Beliefs” which I learned in Bridges for Women.
 
What helped me was reading spiritual teachings.
Or reflecting on the teachings I received at gatherings – usually funerals.
 
There’s a lot out there to help your growth.
You won’t grow if you don’t step out of your comfort zone.
If you won’t change your beliefs then you’ll always stay stuck where you’ve always been.
 
What I mean is things like.
“I’m not good enough.”
“I am evil.”
“I will be abandoned.”
 
And I’m not implying it’s easy at all.
It requires a fierce determination when in the emotional awareness of “I am not enough.” to power through and believe, “I am enough. I am lovable. I am desirable.”
 
That was my way for a long time.
 
But nowadays it is easier. I can easily be unaffected by people. I can also move through my hurt feelings.
 
There is still growth to be made.
 
I’m still out here just tryin’ not to hurt anybody.
Trying to find out ways to help people, that don’t require me doing the work for them. Ways that make me feel good and full and like I’m contributing, but not taking on other peoples’ work. Not because it’s too hard, but because I know I only grew because I felt like I had to do it for myself. And that sometimes I wouldn’t be compelled to change behaviours when I felt like I was too comfortable.

Gotta work now!

If you want to trigger me – talk about the state of Indigenous children in Canada

For over 150 years the Canadian government has essentially been in support of the rape, murder, and use of Indigenous children as guinea pigs for nutrition and social experiments. I’m not exaggerating. Ever since Residential Schools were opened, and thereafter when they created Child Welfare and started literally abducting kids by the busloads and making them wards of the state or literally selling them to Americans… Canada has been willfully traumatizing and psychologically torturing Indigenous children. And it was never a mistake. The intention has always been to kill the Indian in the child.

Canadians – and the world – have been fed a lie that Canadians are polite, peacekeepers. When in reality they’re the sociopath who looks completely normal. Your white veterinarian nextdoor neighbour. Yet, the country has filled residential schools, child welfare systems, and prisons extremely disproportionately with Indigenous people. And, furthermore, the lands which they cordoned us off into – reserve lands – have the worst industrial wastes to deal with while the rest of “Canada” is pristine. None of this is an exaggeration by any means.
Canada is a polite looking rapist.
Today I saw this video. And I have to say that some of the sentiments shared are ones I’ve had to share with rooms full of people before. I’ve had to share it face to face with a white lady while she was in tears. I prefer tears over complete and blatant ignorance that Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail had to put up with – what I had to put up with in those rooms.
Why is Justin Trudeau to blame?
Because this. Because it’s been a year and a half. I don’t want to hear “We’re working on this.” I don’t believe you. Whose been fired? What new policies have been implemented? Have some investigations been launched into those working for and running the worst departments in Child and Family services?
How does the Canadian government help? It’s like asking a rapist how can they stop raping people. There’s no help coming from a rapist. A rapist must stop raping. There’s no help in there. It requires the government of Canada to know what Rape actually is. This is kind of a metaphor but it’s actually, sadly, quite literal. Look at the western world. People don’t know what rape is. People literally don’t know what rape is.
If anybody wants to know how to make this world a better place, we all need to face facts that the society we live in is established on the concept that rape is an inevitable part of life for most people. Rape is an inevitable experience most people should expect. Think about that. Some people who read this will literally have been raped. And for those who haven’t – they have a friend who has been raped. They have female and male friends who have been raped. The people they know were children when the incident happened, or adults when it happened.
Why am I talking about rape so much? Because, rape is assault using force, coercion, authority, or power. And, yes, it’s almost exclusively applied to sexual assault. And I’m not using rape for affect, at all, because Indigenous women and children are disproportionally sexually assaulted – for sure – but this assault on Indigenous bodies is also completely tied to the violence on the land.
When we say – stop taking our children. Literally stop. Cease and desist until further notice.
When we say – stop poisoning our water. Literally stop, right now.
When we say – find our missing women. We mean find them, and find out whose taking them. Find out how many women they’ve taken – Indigenous or not – STOP THEM from doing that.
When we say – stop talking. It means shut up. Sit in silence. And in ceremony. Shut up for a long time.
What are you so desperately developing the land for? Invaders have ghost towns all over “Canada” and “America”… yet they’re compelled to continue to deforest the land for… what exactly? You don’t need to expand your cities or towns. You have some you already destroyed land to make, why can’t you rebuild them? What logic is there to destroying land because it’s “easier” than fixing something that you broke?

Trees take hundreds of years to grow, and provide us amazing oxygen, and spiritual peace… Hemp/Cannabis grows super duper fast and can replace a lot of building materials… yet it’s not yet become industrialized to help us save tree resources? In 2017?
Indigenous people were blamed for years and years for “slowing down development.” I hope you’re thanking the people who slowed down development. They pumped the brakes on a train going off the rails. You’re welcome. But, really, Canadian government is actually slowing down actual beneficial development for themselves – clean energy technology, holistic sustainable living, etc.
And what is my point of bringing all this up? Because it really is all connected. The Canadian government is still deadset on killing and destroying land, water and Indigenous people. It’s still a system that wants to kill the Indian in this country. It really is. And because it’s still focused on killing Indians and lands. When you awaken to this you will be able to become a part of the solution this world needs. You’ll understand what “wrong” is.
This is a triggered blog post. Just FYI.

My Grandma.

I miss my grandma, today. Would have loved for her to meet my kids and they meet her. I feel like she’s one of the rare people in the world I could’ve ever asked, “What do you think grandma? Do you think what I’m doing is the right thing to do?” One of the few people I owe anything to… and she had that right because she loved me unconditionally and she’s someone whose legacy I am meant to carry on. She had about 15ish? or so grandchildren… We’ve all gotta piece of her in our DNA… and her love has touched countless people…
 
But, when she was alive, I didnt’ really know who or what I wanted to be. I mean, I sort of did, but I was still contemplating whether or not any of it was attainable, or worth striving for…
 
But, now I wish I could ask her if there was someone I should go see to help me learn things from our own people. I know technically I have many aunties, many SELSILE (siblings to my grandparents :P) that I could go see… but, they’re not her. I’m not saying that they’re not “enough,” but it just doesn’t feel the same. She babysat me and my siblings for years. She taught us to pray.

Healing/Integration

There are a lot of spiritual teachers or healers who take the approach of helping people find out what’s wrong with them.

When I help people, I do my best to show them what it feels like to be loved in all states of distress. When anxiety, depression, anger, or anything else is experienced, I try to show them what it’s like to experience that authentic emotional state without judgment.

We all need that. We need to know that we don’t need to be fixed to be loved.

We all care, don’t we?

Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’m just so out of alignment with folks who have vastly different beliefs than me, but I think we all want a beautiful and healthy world where we don’t need to war with one another.

I actually am not naive, lol, and feel this is true, that even the most seemingly hateful folks have the same desire, but their pain and need and belief that there is only one way to success – the oppression of another – overshadows their desire that we all have – for connection.

We’re all addicted to something and escaping another thing. All of us. The most consumerist, the most humble, the most sinister folks, we all want to get away from our fears at some point in our day.

The thing is, of course, that not everyone wants to go in deep within themselves and examine this pain. We’re so afraid of it we escape through substances, through conquering one another (sexually, economically, etc.)

I truly feel that the best way we can be here in this world in the most loving way – even while it’s so seemingly out of balance – is to do that spiritual work of emotional investigation.

I know there’s so much “wrong” in the world, but by investigating my emotions and feeling them in every possible perceivable cell (because there’s some cells I’m sure that are like, “Hey, we could use some feeling action!” and I haven’t been able to perceive their pain, yet) I am not hurt by the predictable actions of humans. When someone is caught up in the mainstream ideologies they will usually make disappointing decisions. The mainstream thought makes us make gods or heroes out of our idols and we often cannot allow them to be human and flawed. We only know “right” or “wrong” or “inclusion” or “exclusion” and we don’t make room for the grey. If someone’s behaviour is grey we can only conceptualize of them as right or wrong. I just make everyone grey, in my mind. Lol. Many are uncomfortable with the idea – “Make them good or bad, please?” I don’t want to though.

I’ve distracted myself into my thoughts for long enough. Time to work.

Destruction, Appropriation, Appreciation

I look forward to a world where people will no longer feel like they have to destroy your culture to learn from it.
 
(Because all these innovations and pioneering ideas are ancient… especially within my ancestral history… but a culture who destroyed children set out to destroy the world to find it’s answers)
 
Tribes of peoples who carried their infants on their back to ensure they were always close were destroyed for the shame it instilled in a diseased explorer.
 
Nations of people were destroyed for their deep and loving connection to the earth… so heartless invaders – I say heartless with sorrow, not anger – torched the centuries old trees which the peoples loved so dearly. The trees were a race of people as well, we knew that. 
Shame was projected onto those cultures of people who could walk naked within their villages and day-to-day activities. Their love of their own bodies enraged grimy sailors – again due to fear and shame – so much that they raped and slaughtered these people.
Why? Because if you love yourself so much, and love this world so much, then my parents and my culture must not be as safe and loving as I was trained to believe it was… That cannot be true, yet I know it to be. I simultaneously wish to merge with you and destroy you. I can’t merge with a love I can’t fathom, so I destroy it.
This is why we must never assimilate. The colonizers may have had their own M.O., but to be truly Indigenous, one must look at how their ancestors conducted themselves and seek to follow that M.O. even if it feels impossible today.
It is easy to blame – but that is a colonial concept. My culture has no word for “sorry.” If there’s no word for sorry there is nobody to blame, right? But, usually this idea is worldview is brought up, because if we had no word for sorry, we just were extremely responsible for our own actions. If I know I did something wrong, I won’t do it again. Simple as that. My point is, that I feel that my culture focused on finding solutions to problems. There was no desire to shame someone for making a mistake.
If you took my knife, what would I do? I’d like to think that because we were not so possessive about our stuff many possibilities were available to us in terms of solutions. Maybe I’d think, “Well, they must’ve needed a knife. I can make another.” Or, if I felt concerned – maybe I actually really liked that knife – in a culture that isn’t shaming if I say, “You took my knife.” Your initial response would be of kindness rather than defensiveness. Maybe you’d say, “Oh, have your knife back.” Or a conversation could happen in which either I get my knife back, and maybe I give you something because you need a knife, maybe I give you some material you need to make your own. Maybe I tell you who makes good knives. Maybe I ask if someone has a knife you need. Maybe your mind was somewhere else, and maybe I don’t judge you for your mind being off somewhere. But, we pay attention to you in case something’s up.
I’d love it if the world we lived in today had much of my culture intertwined into the dominant culture. I really would. Education would begin in the womb. You could observe a mother’s mannerisms while she’s pregnant to get to know how the child will be outside the womb, and even the activity in the womb can describe some things about the child. Example, my one son loved being nestled in my right hip, or my right rib, and when he came out that was still his favourite side.He had hiccups a lot when I was pregnant wit him, maybe that could’ve told me something that I never figured out. We would’ve observed our infants and toddlers and saw, “They really like that material, let’s keep it around them so they can build a relationship with it.” Maybe they liked cedar, maybe they’d weave or build canoes? Maybe they liked maple – would they make paddles? They liked oceanspray – would they make arrows? We’d pay attention – and I hear these things being talked about today like it’s a brand new idea, but it’s not. Sometimes it’s very sad to me, because 1. I didn’t get this kind of education even though I could’ve had it if my culture were not interrupted 2. my people have said the education system in North America is messed up for over a century – I’m sure – but NOW people are starting to finally listen. It’s sad, but it’s like “Thank Creator, finally they’re getting it.” lol
The colonial world creates so much shame. However, the Indigenous worldview of which my ancestors believed in was of generosity, respect, and trust. That there is no shame in our bodies, and no shame of going through hard times. The hard times I speak of are what we today would call Poverty. Hard times of my ancestors would be if a family lost somebody, so they were in grief. My ancestors knew how to take care of people through the hard times. So, when I think of this world that is in alignment with my Indigenous worldview, it would be one in which the affluent would ensure that the impoverished were fed, clothed, and sheltered. There’s no shame in that. However, it’s hard to shed that, even for me. People say it, all the time, but that idea of, “I need to make my own way, by myself.” is hard to shake. It does feel like shame if I can’t do so. My people really did value hard work and discipline, but our first rule is to be kind, as my elder John Elliott says very often. So, to be hardworking and disciplined you need to be treated well, first.
I look forward to a world where we treat each other well, first.

Answering the Question, how do I work with Indigenous communities – specifically MY community of the W̱SÁNEĆ people

For the past two weekends, I have been participating in a WAYK workshop. I’ve known about WAYK since about 2010 (potentially longer). My cousin connected the creators of the language learning method/game through a Twitter hashtag, and I found the game to be incredibly useful in helping a learner remember language: effortlessly. That’s my experience of this method.

This workshop was hosted by the Songhees Nation, and I felt deeply honoured that they allowed us into their territory and space to learn this method. Our languages are distinctly different, but similar enough that we could have a fairly good understanding of one another. Speakers and learners of Lekwungen, SENĆOŦEN, Hul’qumi’num, Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Anishinabemowin were present in the workshop. These folks are what would be called today, “Language Revitalists” or “Language Warriors”. And, once you understand the history of attempted (and, in some instances, successful) genocide of Indigenous languages  it’s understandable that one of the participants – a woman named Carmen – was called to ask, “How does a settler support the Revitalization of Indigenous languages in a respectful way?” I don’t actually remember if that’s how she specifically asked the question, but that’s how I’ll address the question.

People ask this question all the time in Victoria, BC. There’s discourse everywhere about how people can be good allies. It’s really great that people are questioning this, for our existence has hardly been acknowledged for decades, and for the longest time, the attention Indigenous people have received have always been in either a negative light, or a romanticized light. We are often depicted as alcoholics and addicts. Or, people assume we all live in teepees and use the medicine wheel. It is important for people to consider that America and Canada are not just two countries. They are hundreds of countries with hundreds of different nations of people. And the land shaped these people and cultures. It gave them languages and ceremonies. A ceremony from the plains doesn’t make as much sense for a Coastal person to use. Example, millions of people these days probably know about “smudging.” The practice of burning sage and using the smoke as a medicine. In new age terms you could consider it clearing your aura. It is natural for medicines to be traded among Indigenous peoples, but it’s important to be discerning. Because sage is so widely known, I make a point to be mindful of if/when I use it. Also, I think about what my people used to do. Smoke doesn’t make sense on the west coast. The two most immediate nations in my lineage of which I descend are Sḵx̱wu7mesh and W̱SÁNEĆ. Sḵx̱wu7mesh peoples are located on the lower mainland of BC, and our territory includes what is now known as Vancouver, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, and north of Squamish (the anglicized pronounciation ofSḵx̱wu7mesh), BC – We are the Fresh Water people. W̱SÁNEĆ peoples are located on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Our territory includes the Saanich peninsula, the area known as the District of Saanich, and we had villages on the Gulf Islands and we traveled annually to SĆUOŦEN (Tswassen) to fish – We are the Saltwater people. When you consider we are peoples of the water, burning in a wet climate doesn’t make sense, right?. Water was our medicine. It’s not to say it’s entirely inappropriate to use sage, but it’s important to be conscious.

Before the arrival of invaders from Europe, we were peoples who – yes – didn’t believe you could own the land. However, we belonged to the land. Today there is a term (and it’s existed for decades) of “Aboriginal Rights and Title.” However, with our teachings we are not an entitled people. We are people who were nurtured into being responsible. Responsible for our feelings and actions; responsible to our family and neighbours; responsible to carry on traditions from our family as they taught them to us; responsible for paying for help from healers; and responsible for being humble in the harvesting of the land for food and resources.

So, when it comes to answering the question. It’s important to know a some things. First, I am recognizing that I am becoming a storyteller. And to be a storyteller doesn’t just mean that I am good at telling a story. I am recognizing that when I speak, my words help people understand their pain and stress in a way they didn’t before. They feel seen in their pain, and that allows for integration of lost soul aspects to return. So, I answered this question in depth with Carmen in her podcast. For that version of the answer, I will post a link once she posts her podcast.

Next, this is an answer that came about after my talk with Carmen. It’s a big question with many answers. And, this is normal for my people. We would have ceremonies that lasted for days. Weddings, Memorials, Funerals, and more, they lasted for days on end. Which involved a lot of talking by many speakers. So, this is a question that cannot be answered by one person. What I appreciate is that Carmen is asking W̱SÁNEĆ and Lekwungen people. Because, I am recognizing there is a problem in settlers having this discourse with, essentially, other settlers. And I’m not talking about white settlers. I’m talking about Indigenous folks who settle in W̱SÁNEĆ and Lekwungen territory. If you’re going to ask this question, you’ll need to get to know the Indigenous peoples of the land on which you’ve settled.

It’s important to note: Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island have had their cultural teachings stolen from them for decades upon decades. And, here in Coast Salish territory, many Indigenous peoples’ make names for themselves in Coast Salish territory in a way they cannot in their own territory. They take up space and often defend their space from the Indigenous people who are living in their own ancestral territory. They can be just as guilty as conducting themselves as oppressors and invaders. What I recognize as being an Indigenous person in my own ancestral territory, is that these territories have rich culture and medicine within them. We are humble and generous peoples when we are in tune with the land and waters. I also recognize that people within my community can also be oppressive and in a mentality of lack. If someone is defending all their resources against their own people, they’ve assimilated the colonial mentality of “lack”. It’s a complex issue, with a lot of trauma, and a lot of healing is happening right now in Indigenous communities as a result of Residential Schools and constant destruction of land. This is all based in a colonial paradigm which has existed for centuries that people in power must conquer each other and the land to gain power and prestige, and this destruction that is inflicted on the land and the peoples is just a casualty of war. This is a painful world to live in when you’re so acutely aware when you are born that this country that landed on your country does not value you as a human being, and sees your land as an object rather than a spirit speaking teachings and sharing messages of healing and nurturing to you. And, that pain can often leave us feeling disconnected. And, literally sacred spaces have been, and continue to be destroyed.

All that being said, we have always been and continue to be strong people. And we are all finding our strength in our own ways. And, I mention all this, because: We were a people who never said no when asked for something, but we always gave because we could trust that the people we were dealing with knew how to respect and give something back in return. We were not a people who created any value in greed. And, today’s society puts a value on greed. So, this idea that an Indian is backwards if they say, “No. You’re not welcome here.” is false, because at this point in time, sometimes we do have to say, “No” because people don’t know their own integrity. We have to protect what’s sacred, and that includes our spirituality as handed down by our elders, our land and waters, our own lives, and most importantly, our children’s futures.

So, when you ask a W̱SÁNEĆ person, “Can  I be involved with the work in your community?” Know that we have to ask ourselves, “Does this person have good intentions?” Because, even with learning language, you’re going to get a lot of knowledge about understanding the world in a new way. And, by learning about this understanding of the world is healing for the average person in Western society, because Western society objectifies everything. W̱SÁNEĆ people, from my understanding, saw life and energy in everything. The “objects” of our time were wooden and rock, but I feel like everything we see and can’t see has a spirit, an energy. And, I see this reflected in my language.

Next, we have to ask, “What does this person bring to the table?” Because, if you are wanting to be involved with Indigenous peoples, you need to be self-sustaining, at the very least. It would be better, if you actually have something to offer in return for your work with Indigenous people. For decades upon decades, and to this day, White people and other Indigenous peoples have managed to be more like invaders of our space rather than settler allies. They took from us to give themselves prestige. And, when someone is in a colonial mindset, I can see why that’d be easy for them to do. If you see Indigenous languages as data rather than people, you’re not going to care about your impact on them. And, our education systems and societies really aren’t doing a great job of raising humans into being people who care about their impact on one another, nor the land and waters. I do not mean to paint a generalization. Many people feel offended. But, sadly it’s true. It’s really god damn true. There are pedophile rings around the world. And, residential school was just one of them. Same with the foster care system. I say this because people who get offended by the idea that this WORLD is sick and it is in big part to do with things like the education system, like the justice system, and all forms of industry, are really ignoring that this society is extremely abusive to children, and no-one is going untouched by this epidemic. People take and take and take, because the world is full of adults who were once children who had something taken from them. Children who were seen as objects or property, rather than souls within bodies. And, the reality is, Indigenous communities have been going with fractions of the resources afforded to non-Indigenous peoples. Our schools receive less funding per child compared to the public schools. Our families on welfare on reserve receive less money to feed their family compared to off-reserve people. So, when you ask to work in an Indigenous community, you need to have something to bring to the table, because otherwise you’re taking from a people who already have less than you in terms of resources like finances. As I said, we’re a strong people, and always have been. And have always been generous and saw themselves as wealthy even when they were poor in terms of their finances. We’ve been getting by with less than the rest of Canadians. And, my elders have busted their asses to give us everything that we have today. And, this was at a point in time when, under law, they were not seen as human (look up enfranchisement and history of the Indian Act).

I have an aunt who says that if someone came into our territory, and they were a trusted visitor, they only harvested what they needed to get by within our territory. They were not allowed to take something within our territory outside of our territory. You only took something (ex. hunting/fishing) you needed because you didn’t have enough to get yourself back to your own home territory. Example, if a Nuu-chah-nulth person was in W̱SÁNEĆ territory, they would know they were only taking goods from W̱SÁNEĆ territory if they were trading. It was a way of keeping peace and trust. It was a boundary. So, if a Nuu-chah-nulth person was visiting. They would have understood this rule, and we would have honoured this rule wherever we traveled.

So, this is the best answer I can give. And, when I provide this answer, it is only MY answer. I do not speak for W̱SÁNEĆ or Sḵx̱wu7mesh peoples. No one person can speak for an entire nation. And, in fact, I may be more lenient than another person of my nations. Keep that in mind. If you wish to work in Indigenous communities, only participate if you have something to return to the people with which you’re working. If you’re there to feel good about yourself, and fatten up your resume in allyship and activism, and think that “good feelings” (ÍY ŚḰÁLEȻENs is a teaching emphasized in our culture which means “good thoughts/feelings) is just enough. At this stage it’s not.

A suggestion I have for any settler – be you white, asian, or another Indigenous person etc. who has settled in my peoples’ territory – is that if you want to come learn our language, make sure you get one of our kids from our community as fluent as you are. It’s using that concept of “Leave a place better than you found it.” When we go to beaches we’ll pick up garbage. When we visit someone we hope we lift their spirits instead of cause them harm. This may be a way someone can respectfully tread the learning of an Indigenous language. This is the best answer I can provide. It’s what I’d want to do if I was learning the language of another Indigenous nation. But, that answer took a lot of self reflection to come to.

My peoples are a very generous people, and sometimes too lenient, other times too harsh. This is why it’s important for allies to learn how to mind their own behaviour. “Why am I doing this? How am I the same as Emily Carr? Am I the same as Franz Boas? Am I stealing and romanticizing culture like E. Pauline Johnson?” Because we’ve spent a lot of time giving and educating people and those people gave nothing back. We do need allies, but we need allies who know what healthy boundaries are. And who will listen with their heart and mind. Who recognize that we are and have been working with what little we have for a long time, yet still gave. Because we will continue to be generous people, it’s a strength. It’s a trust that you deal with people who know how to be respectful. It’s the world our ancestors lived in, and the world we hope can exist again. HÍSW̱ḴE HÁLE.