Missed Thoughts

I forgot to blog yesterday, so I’m one day behind now. Shit happens.

We’re in Prince George. Adult road trip for medical isn’t as fun as it sounds but I got to see my cousins Bradley, Barbara and Peter. If only for a brief moment, it was nice. I don’t even recall how many years it’s been since I’ve seen Barb and Peter.

We got up early, drove to get the tire leak fixed, which ended up being about 2.5 hours but got breakfast while we waited, went to the bank, browsed some shops, got a job interview set up, and talked to Labour Canada. It was nice to get up early and walk, something I never do. I really need to start that. Having Greg along for the walk, was a bonus.

We picked up Brad, went to eat, helped him rescue his truck and then just chilled at the hotel. It was a nice day, just going with the flow.

I’m thankful for these moments with Greg. Although we miss our kids, these moments allow us to rekindle the love and appreciation we have for one another. When we’re together we laugh about the silliest things and just take it easy, do whatever we want with no worries. We often think out loud about our future and what that looks like as our kids turn to adults and leave the nest.

We are having breakfast then heading home to our kids. It’s another good day to cruise with my G-Lo. I love him, our kids and our life.

Renee

F*ck You, IRS

WARNING: MATURE CONTENT

Fuck You, Indian Residential School.

We saw Indian Horse tonight. It made me angry and my heart aches. I felt rage and sadness. As a result, I have a few choice words to share.

Fuck you, Catholic churches across Canada and the world that thought they knew what was best for our people.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, and your holier than thou religion that was forced upon our people.

Fuck you, Catholic churches and your priests, brothers and nuns who felt it was acceptable to torture, rape and beat defenseless Indigenous kids.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, and your institutions where 1000s upon 1000s of Indigenous kids died and never got to see their families again.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, for ripping my parents from my Grandmas and Grandpas, and kids and parents from each other.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, for taking our language and traditions from my parents so that I didn’t learn them either.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, for taking my Dad from me.

Fuck you, Catholic churches, for hurting my Dad so badly that he kills himself every day with alcohol. FUCK YOU!!!

Fuck you, Canadian government, for your truth and reconciliation bullshit. It means nothing when I see Indigenous people killing themselves every day with drugs and alcohol over years of trauma and pain.

Fuck you, to anyone who thinks Indigenous people should “just get over it.”

Fuck you. Fuck you. FUCK YOU!

The one thing you didn’t take was our people’s strength and resiliency, so fuck you.

Renee

Focus North

Good morning. We headed off to Fort Liard, Northwest Territories, yesterday morning after the kids headed to school and learned that the Elder we were going to see came to Fort Nelson, so we had passed him on the highway. Instead of turning around and coming home, as originally planned, we got to see family and friends we don’t often get to see.

On the way to Fort Liard, Greg and I talked about how he felt coming home and he shared he felt anxious. Ever since his dad passed away, he hasn’t gone to his home community very often. It’s usually only under my urging that we go or we go as a family for community events, but even those times, are few and far between. We probably only go once or twice a year, if that. I recall not going for about two or three years, and I think we went for a funeral.

I talked to him and told him how important his connection to his community is, for his healing and wellbeing and for our kids. They are a part of Acho Dene Koe (ADK); it is their family and community, too. I shared with him how much I love Fort Liard because it brought us together, and that had I never had the connection to Fort Liard, we wouldn’t be together. Fort Liard brought us together. I am so thankful for that.

My heart is connected to Fort Liard and the ADK people and has been for over 20 years now. It’s funny because I asked my Uncle Bonzo at the conference a few days ago if he had ever partied there, like I did, and he said he had. I think that’s funny that my uncle used to party there, too. He’s 40 plus years my senior. That’s how my connection started there, it revolved around partying, and through that I gained family and friends and the connection has since remained. Although those choices no longer control my life, I always love going back to Fort Liard; it will always be my other home.

We visited Greg’s elderly aunt and uncle at the Senior Citizen’s complex, got to take his Mom for a cruise, visited his cousin Derwin and got to meet his new baby girl, Dayna, stop in at his Band Office, and visit the craft shop. If you’re ever in Fort Liard, the craft shop and Liard Valley General Store are must stops. I love to just browse at all the items they carry. The ADK people are culturally rich and it shows in their traditional crafts. The craft shop has some of the most beautiful work I’ve ever seen. Wow. Before leaving, we bought a piece of Greg’s family’s work, a tiny Dene drum ornament made by his uncle Pierre Berreault. I got some earrings and we bought my Mom an ornament of a little pair of wrap-arounds. I wanted them to remind her of her Mom, my Grandma Mary.

So, that was our day yesterday, a little trip to Fort Liard and ADK territory, and our other home. Like I said, I’m so thankful for Fort Liard because it brought Greg and I together. Through years of partying to today, it was all meant to be and I have never regretted one day of my life, it brought me the best parts of that little community – my husband, Gregory.

Today is a new day. I am thankful.

 

Renee

Some of my Berreault family, Freda and Marsha (RIP)

Lessons

Life is short. As I’ve aged I’ve been made fully aware that this statement is all too true. We’ve lost so many loved ones and grieving is endless. So many have gone before us that I have come to recognize the importance of grieving and working through the grieving process, our health depends on it.

What I’ve learned, too, is that I’m capable of grieving in my own way and if I don’t attend a funeral, it’s not out of disrespect but allowing myself to grieve in my own way. I have helped many family and friends with funeral arrangements and some are harder than others, looking at the many photographic memories of the deceased I relive my own memories with that person. Sometimes, I laugh, sometimes I cry. I have learned through years of healing that the person never leaves us, they are just here in spirit, no longer in our physical world. This brings me comfort.

What’s my point? I’m not sure there is one. I am heading to Fort Liard today to listen to an Elder’s story for the Na Deh Kleh newsletter that I created for our people, and I thought about the lessons I’ve learned over the years. Grief is such a big one, the importance of grieving in a healthy way. Listening to the women in the healing circle yesterday and seeing Grandmas cry for their losses, made me think of years of pain our people have endured. It hurts my heart to see a Grandma cry for a child they’ve lost or a Mom cry for her son. Our people deserve to heal.

I remember many a day when I’d get in there and party with the family and friends of a deceased one to celebrate their life after the funeral. What I didn’t know at the time was that addictions stunt our grieving process, so we remain stuck in that time, finding it harder and harder to let the deceased go. Memories are relived and they are like a record player in our minds, stuck skipping. This ends when we stop using and start addressing the pain and start the healing work our bodies, minds and spirits need.

I still feel pain when I recall the good memories of past loved ones, anger when I think they could have been spared life if only they’d stopped drinking/drugging, and I still cry when the tears come. Healing and tears are good. Allow your self to cry but also allow yourself to enjoy life, too, that is what our loved ones would want. They would want us to be happy, healthy and to keep living life.

Healing and tears are good. Allow your self to cry but also allow yourself to enjoy life, too, that is what our loved ones would want.

Before I wrap up, I also want to share that grieving is not only about losing someone we love. Grieving is many things. We grieve when we lose or leave people, places and things. I grieved the loss of my favorite coat, a job I had to leave, and have grieved favorite places I’ve visited. Ahh, the ocean. My spirit aches for the ocean. So find someone to talk about those things, too. Find a professional or a friend you can trust to listen and help you unload some of that pain, so you can live fully today.

I wish for our people to heal all the years of pain, grief and loss. It seems endless for sure but it’s possible to take care of us so the pain does not control our lives or us. Creator intended for us to live in harmony and I’m sure that is what our loved ones, in the physical and spiritual world, want for us, too.

The sun is shining, so bless you this beautiful day. I wish you a great weekend.

 

Renee

More or Less

We made it home after three nights in Fort St. John for the Walk in Balance conference. Coming home is always a welcome sight. Now that our kids are older the puppies are the most happy to see us, haha. We love coming home to our kids, Mom’s dinners and fresh laundry, and these crazy puppies.

I feel like I should be writing more for you but I’ve been distracted so I recognize the importance of tackling writing first thing in the morning when my mind is fresh and alert. The ideal time is not laying in bed, on my phone, in my pajamas, ready for bed. My mind becomes jello at this hour, so my apologies.

Today marks my ninth year of sobriety, and I got to spend my morning in a women’s healing circle. That’s pretty swell if you ask me! I shared through some tears but not sad tears, tears of empathy. What we go through as women is often suffered in silence because we’re too busy taking care of everyone but ourselves. I heard the pain of the women in our circle and my heart feels that. I know what it’s like to lose a loved one and to fight addiction. I also heard the strength of those women who were still moving forward despite the struggles. Indigenous women are resilient and strong. We are the lifeblood of our communities.

I didn’t get to see everyone I’d hoped to see and talk to because we left right after the circle but all in all, it was a good day and great 3 days overall. I’m happy we were able to go with Shawna’s (and NENAN’s) help. Thanks Shawna.

Good night, relatives.

Renee

Reconciliation

Did I spell that right? Rec-on-cil-i-ation.

I’m tired and it’s late so I’m simply going to share something Chastity Davis said today that hit me right in the gizzards. She asked, “What do you need to reconcile within yourself before you can offer reconciliation to the world?”

Wow, right? POW, right in the gizzards! I am thankful for today. Thankful for this amazing day amongst my relatives in Treaty 8 territory, the home of our people.

Before I go, I leave you with something else Ms. Davis shared that was shared with her also, “You are the healer you’ve been waiting for.” Meaning, everything we need to heal ourselves is within us, we just have to do the work. So, so true. How do I know it’s true? I know it’s true because I’ve done the work and the work continues, every day. It never ends. We are always “a work in progress” because there is always room for improvement. Every day is a new day to learn and grow; a gift to us from the Creator. I am thankful.

Again, one last time…

“What do you need to reconcile within yourself before you can offer reconciliation to the world?”

Good night, world. Be kind to one another. Thank you for your words today, Chastity. I look forward to exploring that question more for myself.

Renee

 

 

United We Stand

Day one of Walk in Balance 5 in Fort St. John with Greg comes to a close. We are both lounging in our hotel room after a great day. I can see the beautiful blue, orange and black sunset sky out the window. I feel content in my heart. Life is good.

It’s a beautiful thing to see so many Indigenous people united for the benefit of all. Our future generations depend on us to lay down the path for them and these conferences and teachings help us do that. Each of us has a responsibility to take these teachings back to our community and move forward in a good way. I am thankful for these opportunities.

I look forward to these next two days. I’m proud to be here, among our people, learning and growing. I am proud to be exactly who Creator made me to be ~ a Dene woman.

Life is good in the North. Good night.

Renee