On this day I did my 30 minute presentation at the 50th Anniversary of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs Annual General Assembly. My presentation was on Pathways to Healing... I decided to not mask my emotions.. I gave myself permission to cry..
The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) meetings are specific to Indigenous Chiefs and Leadership in British Columbia to talk about Indigenous Title and Rights and Human Rights.
UBCIC has a Women's Representative that is elected by the Chiefs of British Columbia and her portfolio is usually specific to "women's issues" and advocating for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls. It is the most difficult roles I have ever filled in my life.
During this presentation, I cried. I talked about my childhood and the moments when I felt what true love was. Those moments were with my tema Ellen Alec.
I talked about her teachings and also about the not so great moments of my childhood from abandonment and sexual abuse and I talked about my upcoming sobriety birthday and how I’ve worked to forgive myself for my character defects... and I talked about my husband Ryan, how he has taught me to be vulnerable and has taught me about self love... and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip who has always taken the time to pull me aside and ground me with teachings from a love based place.
I talked about my position as the UBCIC Women’s Representative and how many women come to me and share their story.. and that they feel they can’t share their stories of sexual assault or harassment or incest.....yet.. and how hearing them over and over at every meeting I attend... has made me angry...
I talked about my experience and how I was affected when I was sexually assaulted by someone in leadership and I explained how something might seem small to them, a touch, a comment or a joke.. but to be mindful that most likely a woman has dealt with these things her entire life and that those little things contribute to ongoing trauma.
I talked about our leadership in BC.. how proud I have been of them for sitting and listening and learning and paying attention to these uncomfortable issues... that I had faith in them that they would continue to learn and protect our women..
I talked about the upcoming Assembly of First Nations Christmas Gala in Ottawa and the amount of drinking that happens and how unsafe those events are for our women... that every one of those galas and networking events results in the assault and sexual harassment of our women... and how those women are so afraid to say something... I asked our chiefs.. if they decide to attend one of these galas, that they pay attention and speak up if they see something...
I would like to see our political organizations follow the lead of UBCIC and refrain from serving alcohol at events.. especially if there are going to be cultural components.. but just to create a safe space for our women and youth overall... our events should be a celebration where wives and elders and children are welcome and do not have to feel afraid or unsafe... it’s a simple request to make safe spaces...
I talked about our work on Pathways to Healing and how we are creating policies to protect women and how we are working to ensure we create safe pathways for women, men, elders and youth.. and our women have mentioned that we also have to ensure those discussions are inclusive of 2 Spirit and non-binary individuals.
I acknowledged how our leadership are often abused at home and it wasn’t my intention to make them feel like they were doing something else wrong...
I talked about healing for self, forgiveness and self love. That if we are not healing as individuals then we can’t heal or help our families, our communities or our land... these discussions do deserve to be at these tables...
I am thankful for all the women who came to support me so I could cry and share from my heart.. I had asked for medicine because I forgot mine... and these women and elders became my strength.
I will not hold back tears because it makes you uncomfortable. I will not stay quiet about things we used to keep quiet. As women, we have built up so many walls so that we're not called weak or overly emotional. We end up leading from places that aren't authentic to who we are as women. I will not leave pieces of myself at the door to sit at this table. ❤️
I am a deserving woman who loves herself, gathering and sharing the knowledge of our ancestors to promote healing for the mind body and spirit... thank you Liz Sms for sharing this photo ❤️