8th Fire in 2012

Tan’si! Hi….this feels awkward only because I haven’t posted in so long.  I obviously missed the obligatory “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year” posts but I hope you all had a great holiday.  Now that we are well into the new year our lives are all returning to normal.  Thank goodness. 2012.  I thought for sure I would have a jetpack by now.

I was having coffee with my dad the other day and he was looking through the pictures on my laptop of my children over the holidays.  He told me how lucky they are to have so many pictures from their childhood.  He said he only has a few baby pictures of himself and I mentioned that I had a couple that I found online.  He stared at me blankly and I reminded him that I had told him about it over a year ago.  He continued to stare at me so I directed him to this website and showed him this picture. The caption of the picture (from a newspaper at the time) was

“Santa Visits Indian Kiddies at North Battleford.”

Can you guess which one is my dad?

He was completely stunned.  He stared at the picture for the longest time and named all the other boys without reading the caption below it.  He laughed and told me, “We even rounddanced for him. That was a nice day.”  My dad was sick a lot as a child, and spent quite a bit of time in the hospital.  He told me that was why he was only in residential school for a year, he was taken out and put in the hospital .  Maybe being sick saved him from years and years in residential school like my mother had to attend.

 
I thought of this picture not only because it pertained to Christmas but because I watched 8th Fire – Indigenous in the City on CBC last night, hosted by Wab Kinew.  It is a powerful 4 part documentary that I hope has inspired conversations today.  View it here if you missed it last night.  Please watch it and share the link.  Talk about it as well.  I loved it.  I’m anxious to see the next part and I can’t wait until my children are old enough to discuss it with me.  I myself am not an urban Indian.  (Yes, I just said Indian instead of native, but that is my right.  I was Indian as a child and in my own head I still use the term.  This however doesn’t mean I appreciate others using it in a derogatory manner.)  I grew up on Thunderchild First Nation and only left for university.  Now I find myself living in a small town 10 minutes from my rez, it is not a city but this program resonated with me.  Living in town is so different.  I have neighbors, I can hear vehicles that are not coming to visit…it isn’t quiet and still like I am used to. 
 
I’m fortunate in that I know what it is like to grow up with my traditions, I was always proud but I wanted more.  I hungered for something I didn’t quite understand.  I always wanted to be “better,” to be “more,” to be “successful.”  I don’t even know where those desires came from, or where or if I even heard them expressed aloud by an adult.  As a child I loved to write, sing in talent shows, dance pow wow and enjoyed performing in plays…but I always knew I was going to university, because I had to.  My parents pushed me towards education, telling me it was my future and that it was the ONLY path I could consider for my future. 
 
As you know I am now a Speech Pathologist.  Currently I am the only native SLP in my home province of Saskatchewan.  I’ve had people ask me why I choose to live here, why I don’t take my degree and go to the city.  Clearly these people do not understand me.  I might only be 10 minutes from my rez, but it feels farther.  I don’t know that I could move farther because my heart is there.  I love to travel and have not done it much lately but I want to be able to see the world, go to the city and then come home.  It grounds me.  It heals me.  It is me.
 
 
(btw the boy with the biggest smile closest to Santa is my dad Gordon Angus)

Greetings and Salutations

I laugh when people think of my title as an intellectual or fancy way of saying hello. I got that line from Charlotte’s Web (still love that book.)  What was your favourite book as a child? Mine was Morris the Moose Goes to School.  Clearly I have always been a bit of a bookworm, and it is something that I am trying to encourage in my children.

Thankfully it is working, they love to be read to and to be read to.  I admit my little speechie heart beats a little faster when my Cielo asks if we can “practice my sounds.”  She just loves the Jolly Phonics program she is learning in Kindergarten.

Yesterday I had a great day, actually I had so much good fortune I probably should have bought a lottery ticket.  I started off my day with a meeting with my Education Director at work.  That went well and I was off to print copies of all the assessments I have done so far this year for filing in central office.  I stopped at the IT department to inquire if I could have my (crappy old) laptop connected to the wireless printer.  He tried but apparently my computer had no CD rom drive and other assorted “ailments.” This came as no surprise to me as often it takes multiple attempts to even turn on; sometimes I even get a “NO OPERATING SYSTEM DETECTED” error message (that can’t be good.)  My Ed Dir came to give me a copy of the agenda for Friday…they started talking about my laptop and I ended up leaving the room with a brand new work laptop.  It is not mine to keep, but as a contracted employee I do not usually get employee perks so I was tickled. (Lucky thing #1)

Then I went for lunch with a group of area SLPs.  None of us have many colleagues so we have taken it upon ourselves to network independently.  It was great fun and I enjoyed telling them about twitter.  They thought I knew a lot of people online, and I guess I do. (Good thing #2)

I finished up at work and then grabbed myself a Tim Horton’s.  Last stop of the day was for gas at a First Nations gas station (tax free fuel.) When I arrived home my husband had a delicious mexican meal all ready for us. (Lucky thing #3)

Later on in the evening I got the news that we may be getting a Christmas Bonus from the rez this year. (Fortunate thing #4)  Later on my dad arrived with some early Christmas gifts. (Sweet thing #5)

Much later I got a phone call from the gas station.  I won their nightly Christmas draw and won a $100 gift certificate for their store! Hello? Free gas? Holla!! (awesome thing #6)

TOTALLY PUMPED FOR TODAY! Bring it universe!

November 10, 2011 – My Jr is 4

Dear Junior,

As per usual Mommy is running late with the birthday post, but maybe that is because we had such a crazy, whirlwind time.  I still can’t believe that you are already four years old.  My sweet baby son.  November 9 was your last day of Pre-K last week before the long weekend, and your teachers graciously granted permission for you to have a party in your classroom.  You requested a Francesco (from Cars 2) cake and I was worried whether or not I would be able to deliver.  I managed to pull off the cake and a pinata for you to share with your friends.  I hope you liked them.

Francesco cake? Check (and a McQueen pinata to boot)
It was so fun to watch you and your classmates celebrate.  I couldn’t believe how excited and enthusiastic the other kids were.  As I snapped pictures of you all (carefully) wielding the pinata stick I almost cried thinking ahead to the future.  I can just imagine seeing these pictures during the graduation video when you finish Grade 12.  I’m so silly, getting all weepy about you finishing high school when you aren’t even in kindergarten yet but that is me.
 
November 10 dawned and you were four.  You were so excited because not only was it your birthday but you were going to the city alone with mommy.  Unfortunately we were going to the ophthalmologist to check on your eye.  I got sad when he said you will have surgery in January, but you were having so much fun with my iPhone I hope you didn’t notice.
 

my brave hijo

 

 After a few quick stops we were on our way home for your second party with our family.  You seemed to have a great time, surrounded by the people who love you most.  When you went to bed that night you hugged me close and asked if I was your best friend.  I said what I always do when you ask me this…”always.”

Te amo mucho Junior.

 
 

My Jr

1st Day of Pre-K

I didn’t post this picture after his first day of school, mostly because I was in denial. 2 of my 3 children (woah, I have 3 kids) are in school. I wish I could keep them as babies for a little longer but it is exciting to watch them face new challenges.

I posted the picture now because he just woke up and wandered into the living room. He asked me if I was his best friend and I said I was. He smiled and went back to his room and fell back asleep.

I hope he always feels this way.

It’s a Good Day to Dance

When asked what interests, motivates and inspires me besides Speech Pathology several things run through my mind:

1)      Shopping (certainly)

2)      Food (definitely)

3)      Social media (most assuredly)

However, my strongest and most important interests and sources of motivation and inspiration are best described by my twitter handle @ndnspeechmomNdn is an abbreviation of the term “Indian” which, although not politically correct is the term I grew up using to describe myself as a First Nations individual.  Speech seems self-explanatory and mom is the title I wear most proudly. 

The importance of family and cultural identity is the cornerstone of my life and is something that I plan to pass on to my children.  As a child I danced Pow Wow and was even once Thunderchild Junior Princess in 1986.  (If you’d like to see my beaded moosehide sash my dad has it in his man cave.)  It is difficult to describe the feeling you get when you dance to the drum.  It has been years since I was part of the Pow Wow circle but whenever I hear the drum and the singers start those familiar songs I can feel it in my heart.  Someday I want to dance again, but I especially want to raise my children to be comfortable traveling on the Pow Wow trail.  I was so proud on August 28, 2011 at the Thunderchild Pow Wow because that was the first day I got to take all three children into the center while they danced Tiny Tots.  My nervousness as to whether they would like it melted away when I saw my daughter lift her arms and begin to dance.  I was surprised because I didn’t even know that she knew any steps.  My sons were more reserved but they didn’t panic even with the crowds watching them.   I was so excited I forgot to take as many pictures as I would have liked. 

This compilation video includes pictures from the Thunderchild 2011 Pow Wow and several from my family photo album.  The music is a song called, “It’s a Good Day to Dance” by the drum group Blackstone. 

 

This is a video that I shot with my phone of the drum group that sat directly in front of us.  I was proud that my children enjoyed listening to the drum so close.  The two men visible onscreen are my cousin Marvin Thunderchild and my uncle Eric Tootoosis.  The name of the drum group is Saddleback and I believe they are from the Edmonton area of Alberta.

I feel as though my focus on family and culture serves me well in my professional life as well since I am a school based Speech Pathologist travelling to several different First Nations communities.  I find it rewarding to work with children in the communities around my home reserve of Thunderchild and I hope that I can encourage more First Nations  people to enter the fields of Speech Pathology and Audiology.   I encourage everyone reading this to partake in the beauty that is native culture and to feel the heartbeat of the drum.  It is always indeed “A Good Day to Dance.”