• Change

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    My mother, and her nephew and niece were heavy drinkers, living in this site here on Number 3 Reserve, Nanaimo First Nation. They drank every week, much to their own destruction and pain. But low-and-behold, one time they’re listening to a religious station – person called Don Gauset. 1960 – I think it was January of 1960. He’s a pentecost evangelist (whatever you want to call them): very vibrant, very vociferous, and commanding in his presentation; and had affected my mother, Harry, Johnny, and Sally Paul. Continue reading “Change”

  • Pallor

    When my mother and father were first married they spent three years on Baffin Island where my father was the only doctor. During their first year my mother looked after a newborn Inuit boy who was not well enough to go out on the land with his family for the winter. When my oldest brother was born the following September, my mother was disappointed and even repulsed by this pale little thing who was so different-looking from the brown baby she had grown to love. This was one of my mother’s favourite stories and there were many others, from both my mother and my father, which, along with an album full of photos, a collection of ivory carvings, a narwhal tusk and a few Inuit words that my father would utter, were an integral part of my childhood.

  • Colonial Rescue

    Recently I learned about an event in my family history that left me reeling. Back in 1832, my ancestors were among the first families to settle in Orillia, Ontario. As they approached the area by boat, their craft capsized in the waters of Lake Couchiching near “The Narrows.” On board was a tiny baby, my third great-grandmother Eliza Bailey, and she was brought safely to shore by a kind member of the Chippewa (Ojibway) Nation. As I later found out, many of the early settlers were welcomed and dependent upon First Nations everywhere, who gave us gifts of food, medicine and our very lives. And yet I have to wonder if my family line would even exist, had Eliza perished in the water? And why wasn’t this information an important part of our family story? A member of Mnjikaning First Nation and Keeper of the Fish Fence cared for my ancestor, but what did we do to return the favour? We have a lot to examine, as we make retributions for the terrible years of land seizure, genocide, oppression, relocation and residential schools. And as we move forward together, I hope to contribute to that process.

  • Ready For It

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    About 90 – I guess 1992 – my wife and I at the time had the misfortune of losing our first child. It was a pretty dark time. I was selling photocopiers – Sharp photocopiers – at the time out of Duncan. I had a lot of contacts with First Nations – Mid-Island Tribal Council (which I don’t think exists anymore) and a few others as well. Continue reading “Ready For It”

  • Family Tree

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    I’m currently in the process of making contact with an aboriginal that aboriginal is inside of me. It’s my aboriginal heritage that I’m just discovering about five years ago my sister did our family tree and I’m a descendant from the hereditary chiefs of Iroquois people. Continue reading “Family Tree”

  • Our Thing

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    Till today we both moved to Canada my daughter speak mother language Mandarin, second language English, and last few days I try start to talk with my daughter Shanghai language. She’s excited to know it. Continue reading “Our Thing”

  • Keeping Language

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    I got married when I was eighteen and me and my husband had four girls. But my husband went to residential school. So there was two people with two different lifestyles. The way he wanted to bring my girls up and the way I wanted to bring my girls up, it was a struggle because in school our language was beaten out of him. But for some reason my husband kept his language. And I said “how did you do that” Continue reading “Keeping Language”

  • Contact with My Children

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    I went a few years without contact with my children, who were in foster care. They were apprehended when my son was nine months old and my daughters when they were about five and six years old. Continue reading “Contact with My Children”

  • Naming

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    In the next month or two, our family is going to be doing a naming. There are seven grandkids that will be doing a Coast Salish naming and be receiving our traditional names from our family. So what’s really neat about that is learning about who our ancestors are even more in depth, and how amazing it is that we have that sacred knowledge around who those people are, and how our lineage works, and the gift that comes with that name, and the honour that comes with that name. Continue reading “Naming”

  • Reef Whale

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    I went on a 30 to 45 minute boat ride to Ahousaht, in Tofino, with my brother, my auntie and a whole bunch of other people to meet my family for the first time. Continue reading “Reef Whale”