Kat’íl’a – Seeking Quietness and Stillness in my Quest for Knowledge

I wrote this poem over the past couple of days. Reflecting on my thoughts and feelings being back home and my learnings over the past few years. I wasn’t sure what to call it but then remembered the Lil’wat principles of learning, available through the link below. I thought the word Kat’íl’a fit perfectly, meaning “seeking spaces of stillness and quietness amidst our busyness and quest for knowledge; stop and listen deeply.” This poem describes my feeling of greatest peace, most wonderful self, when I feel connected to the life force of nature. My place of stillness, and listening, where I feel the teachings from different First Nations in my heart.


See your self
Rooted in the way of Cedar
Criss crossed veins
Winding roots
Falling ashes
And sprinkling dust
Life connecting
Trailing across the ground
Reflecting into space
Footsteps in the forest
Constellations telling stories
Trees whispering to the next
She says
Branches lifting upwards
Arms raising
Eyes closed
See with spirit
Feel your relations

Dr. Lorna Williams used the principles in a course called Learning and Teaching in an Indigenous World. I had the wonderful opportunity of discussing a couple of the principles and words with Lorna when I was living in Victoria. That’s when I learned that the root word múc means life force, or energy, used in the word kamúcwkalha meaning “acknowledging the felt energy,” and méxwia7, which means “belly button when the cord is cut off,” and also translating to “umbilical cord” the life force that we have all been connected to in the very beginning of our life. I later learned a few other people’s thoughts on the translation but they were quite similar and I don’t recall the comments. I appreciate any help that comes my way in learning the language. Learning Ucwalmícwts is not easy. It’s a very complex language and involves a lot of emotional work, and dedication. But it is so worth it. For the growth and understandings that it brings. I’m so grateful to have gone to Xit’olacw community school in my early years, as it was started to teach the language and culture of our people to the youth. The language brings me love. There’s nothing better than hearing fluent speakers of Indigenous languages having a conversation, and being able to understand it. It brings memories of pure joy, and laughter, and love of our old ones to mind. My umbilical cord was saved after I was born, to be hung on a tree up the mountain, in the early morning, a common practice of our people. So my life force is forever connected to this land. My identity as rooted as the tree it hung from 27 years ago. This space is where I spent the first two years of my life. About a 45 minute drive down a dirt road where people still gather for fish camp every year.

Photo taken about five years ago. When I had the amazing opportunity to go and share stories and sing songs.

Lil’wat Principles of Learning – Dr. Lorna Williams


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