I am awake, I am alive, and … I am still so incredibly grateful for the lessons of last night for last night I saw a glimpse into what the future COULD be …
Last night, I spoke at LU to the students of Professor Hay’s Indigenous Studies class. This particular class is focused on gender and how gender identities are effected by colonialism.
As is often the case when I speak, there was a “mixed” audience, made up of approximately half Indigenous students (all, if not most, young Kwes) and half non-Indigenous. Anyone working with such a mix knows the potential result – non-Indigenous will speak, Indigenous will remain silent. It is Canadian history playing out before our eyes as humility and taught silence are overcome by privilege and voices that have been heard since birth (a generalization for sure, but you get the gist).
I was there to share my Kwe experience and I made it clear that I could only speak to my experience, that I was not speaking for all Kwe but … that there are commonalities. As I shared yesterday I spoke of the “hum” playing in the background, of micro-aggressions, of judgement, of domestic abuse, of the need for Indigenous Only spaces and how I am living proof that the past does not need to be the future.
The speech (a portion below) was well received but my teaching was not what invoked the magic. The real catalyst was revealed to me in the most perfect and beautiful way … on the voices of the young Kwes in the room.
First, the mandatory uncomfortable silence when no one has questions. And then a question about “nerves”, a student wondering if I feel nervous before I speak. And another question and another until one Kwe, almost bursting at the seams, spit out “How do you Do THAT?! How do you speak without notes and not lose your place? How do you answer random questions and stay focused? How?!”
Slowly and beautifully it became clear to me. Yes, a few of the Kwe now believed they COULD be authors or speakers after having met me, but it was so much more than that, so much more primal. The young Kwe in the room had never met a proud, confident, successful, outspoken KWE before. My very existence, the POSSIBILITY of someone like me had never entered their minds before! And now, suddenly, as if by magic, their futures changed as they realized they could one day be confident and outspoken too.
But the magic wasn’t done yet.
One young Kwe, with the most beautifully soft voice imaginable, thanked me for sharing, for speaking of the domestic violence I had suffered. She shared how I was the first Kwe she had ever heard do that. She shared of her own six years of hell and how the women of her community all suffer but no one speaks and no one tries to get out. But she did and I did.
Almost cried then, almost crying now.
So this is me, sipping my morning coffee as I thank Creator over and over and over again for the chance to be in that room last night. Never again will I underestimate the value of my confidence, realizing now that my confidence and my example are needed in the communities just as much as the lessons I bring.
Those young Kwe taught me that.
Last night, I caught a glimpse of what the future could be, as whispers grew into voices that could be heard, crazy dreams became possibilities, and non-Indigenous were presented the opportunity to hear their Indigenous counterparts in what still remains a rare occurrence in this country.
And I was there. I was there.
Wow, just wow.
I have no closing for this entry because this work is just starting, words and lessons that will be delivered by the Kwe who are just beginning to realize the power of their own voices. And dang rights, I will be there to teach them!!
Beautiful, just beautiful.
Have a great day my friend. I know I will for I have work to do and more young Kwes to inspire. The future is just beginning!
I love you! HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS