Bigstone Cree Nation
As a descendant of Residential School survivors, I, like my fellow cohorts, struggle to navigate between a colonized world and fighting the plight of preservation. Although my father was fluent in our language, I have only managed to grasp broken fragments of Cree thrown into an English conversation in an attempt to demonstrate my “Aboriginality”. My father was raised rich in traditional teachings and culture, and yet, if I want to speak Cree, bead, tan hide, trap, hunt, or attend ceremony, I must seek it out myself. My father had a grade nine education and although he died with the knowledge of his grandmother, it was not passed down to my siblings and I. The irony of it all, is that I had to return to a colonized institution in order to learn the history of my people. I learned to read, write and speak my language in university. Although my mother and father shared stories of alcoholism, abuse and dysfunction throughout generations of our family, I never understood why it was so widespread in our Aboriginal communities. I knew my great-grandmother and grandfather attended Residential Schools, I knew how awful these institutions were. What I did not know about was the effects of intergenerational trauma. I thought if my ancestors knew the way they were treated was so wrong, why did they treat their children that way? Why do we yell at each other instead of talk? Why is there so much shame, dysfunction; why so much pain? I had to set about in answering these questions. Before I thought, I had to live that way also, I was Aboriginal, and this is who we are. It was not until I began to educate myself on the history of our people from the first European contact to present-day, that I began to discover how exactly this distorted image of First Nations came to be. I discovered patriarchal and sexist legislation and understood how our women lost their power and Status. I read about how abuse is not hereditary, but learned and internalized. In learning where I have come from, I have begun to find where I am going.