My passion filled life
Thoughts and threads of passion and experience that have woven the fabric I call my life.
My passion filled life
On September 24th I volunteered to help out Reconciliation Canada with the Walk for Reconciliation that was taking place in Vancouver. The work and goals of the Truth and Reconciliation commission has become very important to me, and although none of us can do everything, all of us can do something. Volunteering that day seemed like something that I could do.
I headed out from home early, as I had to catch the 7am ferry to be able to get there on time. I felt courageous and brave as I headed into downtown Vancouver by myself for the first time. I also felt tired. I'd had a couple of heavy weeks with hosting company, preparing for another trip back to Manitoba for Orange Shirt Day, and helping my presenting partner and adopted son Trem with some of the grief that continues to have a hold on him in the years since my son's passing. I was tired, but I was also very excited.
I arrived at the grounds of the event about an hour before the walkers were to arrive at the site. I'd been assigned to support the survivors and elders in the tent set up for them. Our role was to ensure they were offered something to eat and drink, be a listening ear if it was needed, and to support them in whatever way would be most meaningful to them.
Having a bit of time before hand, I had the chance to see the beautiful collection of rocks that had been painted by school children from across the country as gifts to be given to survivors. They were decorated with words, pictures and colours of hope. They were beautiful.
I also got to explore some of the tents that were set up providing information, food, artwork, among other things. However, it wasn't long before the people started making their way to the tent I was stationed at, and the work of the day began.
Watching the hundreds, in fact thousands of people that streamed in to the grounds as the walk concluded left me with a lump in my heart. All these people who had experienced what we are only now learning about, and have carried the pain of that experience for decades. It was so hard to come to terms with the reality of our country’s historical treatment of our First People. There is so much work still to be done, but at least the work is beginning
Throughout the day I had the great honor of serving and listening to the stories of many of those people while the festivities, honoring and presentations of voice and music resounded all about us. There was wisdom in the speakers and performers, and passion in the audience. Passion to recognize, celebrate and find understanding. It was a powerful event for everyone that attended.
Throughout the day, in one corner of the tent, a couple offered cedar brushing to anyone who asked for it. I watched, not really understanding the ceremony, but interested in learning, and at the end of the day, when most of the elders had left, I had my chance. I knew I was experiencing something incredible when he told me that the grief I was carrying was what was causing my throat to be so sore. I hadn't said anything about it, nor was it affecting my communication. It was just a deep ache that I'd experienced for a couple of days by that time. I realized this stranger who was offering his healing medicine had read through my words into my tired spirit. He offered comfort and support as he swept away some of the burden I'd not truly realized I was carrying. He kindly explained the process and the beliefs it represented. In giving of myself that day I received such a gift in return.
He also reminded me that the teachers that I've been gifted to have in my life throughout the years were with me still, whether they were in the spirit world or this one. It was such a powerful experience for me, and the most wonderful ending to the day.
Driving home that night I was incredibly happy that I'd made the effort and been offered the opportunity to participate in something so amazing. I am not naive. I know reconciliation is going to take years of work and a lifetime of effort on the part of all people involved. None of us can to everything to fix what is so broken in Canada today, but I was reminded that each of us can do something, if we so choose. I thought of the many stories that had been shared with me. People giving away small pieces of who they are and what they'd experienced so that the rest of us could learn and grow from that. I thought of the resilience of the people I'd been with, and appreciated how incredibly strong their spirits must be. I know that in their having shared those small pieces of who they are, they made me a better person. I know in the offering, I was the one who was gifted. I hope each of you get the opportunity to experience that as this work continues in the many forms we will see it take in the years ahead.
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