Friends, as with many other students I am now back home from the South, this my fourth year of Indigenous PhD Studies.
Up to only about a decade or so ago most pupils going to the world outside of academia, usually just picked a person they thought might know something about their field of study, spend some time with them and write up their school report, with their slant on what they learned.
With the onset of Indigenous knowledge, this kind of colonialist practice has thankfully become something we’ve left behind, and with good reason.
News/North reporter Tim Edwards did an excellent take on my recently published book, From Bear Rock Mountain; the Life and Times of a Dene Residential School Survivor. (See June 17 edition)
He mentioned that the format for these memoirs also goes back as far as Greek mythology.
One chapter, A Poisoned Cloak, mentions that Hercules was given a cape soaked in a lethal substance by his wife, for him to wear, proving his love for her. Doing so, the poison seeped into his skin driving him mad enough to fling himself into a funeral pyre, killing him.
In a book you always have to include stories and the lessons thereof, to prove your point.
This one has to do with how we as Indigenous peoples in the Americas have done just this, adopted the ways of the Mola — white colonizers — to prove our worth as human beings, no less.
Over the hundreds of years since the first of these foreigners landed on Great Turtle Island we have continued to suffer, to the point of repeated attempts at assimilation, making good little brown citizens of us.
I should also mention that during the recent NorthWords Literary Festival, one of the topics I was a panellist for was that of community-relations.
Not long after I got a call from one of my sisters, to correct an error I made, going along with something a close relative told me many years ago, when I was just a teen.
Up until then I really believed that my parents never wanted me around, because I was born when they were both so young.
Clearing this up was both a painful and valuable learning experience, now allowing for the light of truth to come forth and blossom.
These are some of the lessons a writer has to be prepared for, to write, yes, but not only from a position of authority.
Mahsi, thank you.