Tan’si! Hi….this feels awkward only because I haven’t posted in so long. I obviously missed the obligatory “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year” posts but I hope you all had a great holiday. Now that we are well into the new year our lives are all returning to normal. Thank goodness. 2012. I thought for sure I would have a jetpack by now.
I was having coffee with my dad the other day and he was looking through the pictures on my laptop of my children over the holidays. He told me how lucky they are to have so many pictures from their childhood. He said he only has a few baby pictures of himself and I mentioned that I had a couple that I found online. He stared at me blankly and I reminded him that I had told him about it over a year ago. He continued to stare at me so I directed him to this website and showed him this picture. The caption of the picture (from a newspaper at the time) was
“Santa Visits Indian Kiddies at North Battleford.”
- Can you guess which one is my dad?
He was completely stunned. He stared at the picture for the longest time and named all the other boys without reading the caption below it. He laughed and told me, “We even rounddanced for him. That was a nice day.” My dad was sick a lot as a child, and spent quite a bit of time in the hospital. He told me that was why he was only in residential school for a year, he was taken out and put in the hospital . Maybe being sick saved him from years and years in residential school like my mother had to attend.
I thought of this picture not only because it pertained to Christmas but because I watched 8th Fire – Indigenous in the City on CBC last night, hosted by Wab Kinew
. It is a powerful 4 part documentary that I hope has inspired conversations today. View it here
if you missed it last night. Please
watch it and share the link. Talk about it as well. I loved it. I’m anxious to see the next part and I can’t wait until my children are old enough to discuss it with me. I myself am not an urban Indian. (Yes, I just said Indian instead of native, but that is my right. I was Indian as a child and in my own head I still use the term. This however doesn’t mean I appreciate others using it in a derogatory manner.) I grew up on Thunderchild First Nation and only left for university. Now I find myself living in a small town 10 minutes from my rez, it is not a city but this program resonated with me. Living in town is so different. I have neighbors, I can hear vehicles that are not coming to visit…it isn’t quiet and still like I am used to.
I’m fortunate in that I know what it is like to grow up with my traditions, I was always proud but I wanted more. I hungered for something I didn’t quite understand. I always wanted to be “better,” to be “more,” to be “successful.” I don’t even know where those desires came from, or where or if I even heard them expressed aloud by an adult. As a child I loved to write, sing in talent shows, dance pow wow and enjoyed performing in plays…but I always knew I was going to university, because I had to. My parents pushed me towards education, telling me it was my future and that it was the ONLY path I could consider for my future.
As you know I am now a Speech Pathologist. Currently I am the only native SLP in my home province of Saskatchewan. I’ve had people ask me why I choose to live here, why I don’t take my degree and go to the city. Clearly these people do not understand me. I might only be 10 minutes from my rez, but it feels farther. I don’t know that I could move farther because my heart is there. I love to travel and have not done it much lately but I want to be able to see the world, go to the city and then come home. It grounds me. It heals me. It is me.
(btw the boy with the biggest smile closest to Santa is my dad Gordon Angus)