Tanina Williams takes over our instagram


“Yes,” said Tanina, “I’ll do a takeover.” Even though she doesn’t really spend a lot of time on instagram, (understatement!), she works in education, so she knows that the best teachers allow themselves to be students, to be beginners. Plus, she has so much to share.  She is a wool weaver, a carver and a cultural support worker at Signal Hill and at Myrtle Philip. Her goal this week is to share some perspectives on culture and identity, and hopefully her “viewpoint will enrich people’s lives.”

Then, she started her takeover with a Live Story, and had immediately surpassed all my instagram skill and knowledge. (Me: hang on a second. Where does it go?!?!?!?)

I love this offering and I think there’s something deeply true in it: sharing the way we look at the world, particularly if that comes from a cultural tradition and world-view that has been marginalized, and arises out of a long commitment to personal work, is absolutely enriching for those on the receiving end. (Consider: devil’s club is not despicable, but beautiful. Dandelions are wonderful food, not just for bees.)

I’m grateful for Tanina’s work at Signal Hill. I first met her because of her role in the blanket ceremony two years ago. I’m so excited to discover what my son will learn, through his encounters with Tanina, when he heads off to kindergarten in the fall.

Here are transcripts from two of her instagram lives.

Monday 9pm:

“Hey, I hardly ever do this kind of stuff, selfies or taking videos or anything so this is really brand new. I’m back again, I know it’s late at night, but I’ve had a busy day. Today I was at Myrtle Philip Elementary School. I work for School District 48 and today we were learning language at the school and how it relates to everybody as an individual person, and how it relates to our surrounding area. And I’m so excited about what the kids are learning and what I’m learning more and more about language. What I want to share tonight is that the dandelions came out 3-4 days ago now and they’re actually not indigenous to this land. They were brought over. We didn’t have an Ucwalmicw word in our language for dandelion. Two years ago, I was taking an Ucwalmicw class and decided my project would be on dandelions and coming up with a new word. So over a period of time, I asked different people, different elders about this word. I couldn’t find one. So finally I emailed Jan van Hyk, who helped us establish our written words, which he developed along with my aunty Dr Lorna Williams, along with other elders in the community and we came up with a word. And it’s ts̓qáxa7 sp̓áq̓em

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And this word is really interesting. The more I think about the choices we made, even the word ts̓qáxa7 is relatively a newword to us, as horses were not indigenous to this area as well, so it’s a new word for us. And sp̓áq̓em is the word for flower. I’m really excited about how our language has make changes along the way and over time.

Tuesday April 24:

Today, I’m working at Signal Hill Elementary school and we’ve been learning about the devil’s club plant. and on my way to work I picked up this beautiful devil’s club, with this beautiful bud on top, and these beautiful thorns. I teach the kids how to take the thorns off and cut it up into small pieces. We make beautiful beads out of them. We use the bark to make devil’s club salve.

And this year we are going to be selling devil’s club beaded bracelets and devil’s club salve in order to support Water for Life, somewhere in this world internationally and also with aboriginal peoples here in Canada.”

Keep following Tanina’s insights this week at instagram.com/thewellnessalmanac


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