Saturday, September 10, 2016

What Does Reconciliation Mean to Me

At the orientation we were told we would need to submit a letter explaining what Reconciliation means to us. This is what I wrote.

What does Reconciliation mean to me? First I would like to say that writing isn't my strength. I feel more comfortable expressing myself in art, such as a photograph, painting or video. I have a blog but I fill it with the items I just mentioned.

It's been a crazy ride already, this journey we are about to embark, if I am so fortunate to be chosen. I was telling my friend of how I feel I am the person walking past the construction site. There's all the action happening but you can't really see it, or be a part of it because you can only look through this little hole. That's how I feel I am looking through a peep hole into the whole indigenous, First Nations, Aboriginal world but I am not a part of it.

I really want to be. I have wanted to be for a long time. When asking my mom about my heritage, my mom used to say we were Portuguese, Swedish, French Canadian Indian, Bohemian. Wanting to tell my child about her heritage, I asked my mom, and I said, “Who's the French, who's the Canadian, and who's the Indian?” when trying to ascertain which grandparent was of which ancestry. And she laughed and said “No, no, my dear, they are all one!” (Metis) And in essence isn't that the truth. We are all indigenous.

As both my parents have passed it was hard to document my ancestry. I have accessed the 1881 Census and the BC Archives and have documented that my great great grandmother was Songhees and my great grandmother was Metis. I believe this is significant because from hearing Sharon Venne speak, one reason the treaties were dismissed is because the women never signed them. The women were very respected and powerful and need to be again.

Hearing Justin and Aaron and the others speak about the panels we will do made me very emotional as I started to think about it. As I was riding the bus home I was all teary and by the time I got home I went through a whole host of emotions with the idea that I am going to be apart of all this. It's pretty overwhelming in a really beautiful way.

It will be a difficult project and not just individually but as a group, I am sure we will all go thorough things, but as we work together we will learn about one another and bond and become a little community and through our efforts we will pay tribute and through art we will be able to express ourselves, express our sadness, grief, anguish at the loss of precious lives but at the same time make sure they are not forgotten and through that process, connect with ourselves and each other.

So I guess through the transformation of the wood we will transform ourselves as we travel on our Journey of Truth and Reconciliation and that will be “good medicine” as Justin said to me at the orientation. So we can all heal together and then hopefully we can help others heal. As we enlighten others we can all heal together, time heals all but we need a lot of time. Carving the panels will hopefully enlighten others for a long time. A visual story to record history, art therapy for us all.

It's important to me because I want my child to have connection that I never had. I want her, us, to be connected to the earth and I don't feel that right now. I feel lost. I am hoping that this Aboriginal Carving Award and all it entails is going to help me get reconnected. How can I guide my child if I am lost? Creating art is the way I heal, through my painting, photography and video so I believe that the carving and the studies will help heal and thus bring about reconciliation for me, my family and hopefully many others we encounter as well as healing for the survivors of the residential schools and the family of the Missing and Murdered Women.