If we as Indigenous people walk away from and disengage from the academy [it is] at our own peril given that the academy performs a vital societal role of producing the elite knowledge in society” Smith, G. in Kovach, 2011:89
I have always believed that those who hold knowledge, mainstream colonial constructs of what is considered knowledge, hold the majority of societal power and influence. The education system was one of colonization’s greatest tools; it stripped nearly everything from our people, but not quite everything. Growing up I didn’t value the education system as it had nearly annihilated my people, and I couldn’t connect to how this system of methodical oppression and cultural genocide could actually make space for me or serve me personally; but throughout my mid-twenties I realized that education was the key for me to most effectively manipulate the structures of society to better serve me and my people and raise our collective cultural awareness and resurgence. My education has not only served me professionally, it has dramatically and powerfully awoken a deeper level of consciousness that has been slumbering in me since before my conception. Education helped me tap into generations of wisdom from my ancestors. Education grounded me, it humbled me, it centred me. Education helped me to make the mind, body, spirit, heart connection. Education saved me from my self-destructive tendencies and gave me a platform in which to share my challenges and gifts with others. Through education I ensured that my Grandmothers early death from alcoholism that stemmed from her education experience was not in vain.
Many people have inspired me throughout my life, some I’ve never met, some I’ve only briefly encountered, and some who I love deeply. One of the most inspiring individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing is my Momma. My Momma has struggled all her life, but if you asked her she would say she has loved every minute of it. Her mother died when Momma was only four, and her father left shortly after. My Momma was raised by her Grandmother along with a dozen of her cousins and siblings. My Momma was a teenage mother at the age of 15. She was a teenage runaway at the age of 16 when life at home in Haida Gwaii became too overwhelming and violent. My Momma was forced into the sex trade as young woman. She did anything and everything she had to in order to protect me and provide for me. She showed me nothing but love, kindness, compassion, empathy and friendship from the moment I was born. My Momma is this bright shining beam of authenticity, and pure love with an air of innocence due to her FASD. I have a million stories I could share to paint you a picture of just how incredible my Momma is, but one really stands out: about a decade ago my Father was riding his Harley down Hastings when he saw my Momma come out of Carnagie Hall, so he pulled over. Momma was holding two hotdogs, all the food she had to eat that day. They chatted for a couple minutes when my Momma asked my Father what he was up to that day, he replied that he was just going for lunch; without a second thought she offered him one of her hotdogs. He politely declined, smiled and handed her 50$. She is selfless. I would not be the person I am today without that Haida Warrior. Everything I do these days is for her. There is nothing I would not do for my Momma. I have always felt as though she were my spiritual guide sent from Creator; and that I am her Mother reincarnated and sent back to this plain of existence so that my beautiful Haida Warrior is never truly alone.