Today, to honour the solstice and acknowledge National Indigenous People’s Day, I went to yoga.
That’s pretty middle-aged middle-class white woman, isn’t it?
Should I have proven my allyship by doing something more overt, or more self-flagellating? I did wear my “áma s7at̓sxentsína” t-shirt, under a sweater and down jacket, mostly because I love it, but this choice of action was not a display, it wasn’t a performance of my “goodness”, it wasn’t for instagram. It could have been, but I didn’t take a selfie of myself and announce it.
I blocked the morning off work and went to yoga because this is my religion, now, to acknowledge the solstice and it is the religion, you could say, of being a human, an earth-based being, who wants to pay attention to the wheel of the year and the cycles of time and life and rebirth that happen through the seasons and the movements of the sun and the moon, and paying attention is one way I am trying to practice reverence, appreciation, inter-connection. And gathering in community is such good medicine. And letting wise words land over me as I then move my body and breathe to try and open space where things are contracted, feels like a way to embody or absorb that wisdom… And so it felt incredibly nourishing and heart-filling. And I am grateful.
And I am grateful to be here on this land, this stolen land, living with the privilege of safety and shelter and freedom to move and breathe and self-actualize, that arose out of 200 years of concerted effort and government policy and actions in service of these policies, to extract from, control, and oppress a community of people who trace their connection here back before known time.
This too, is true and alive in this moment. This legacy. This suffering. This injustice.
And while I think there is a value in the posts acknowledging National Indigenous People’s Day, that have crossed my feed this morning, I also tread cautiously around “dedicated days” – the days dedicated to honouring mothers or the Earth or donuts, because I think we can sometimes get lost in effort of making the grand symbolic gesture, and miss the small quiet drudgery of the everyday acknowledgment, of shifting ourselves daily into better relationship that might not be glamorous or photo-worthy and that might be kinda uncomfortable and awkward and fumbly.
Our yoga class this morning was led by the beautiful Rebekka Walker for Village Yoga, and she was accompanied by Kerry Dorey creating a sound bath, under the spectacular gaze of Ts’zil Mountain, during a break in the rain, and proceeds for the gathering will go to support the Indigenous Women Outdoors, because they’re awesome, and we lucky women who were there today know that the system is not right or fair, and that it is stacked in our favour, and there are many who don’t have the capaciousness in their lives to practice yoga outdoors to acknowledge this day.
So we are leaning into that, too. Attempting to balance that.
And we also, I think, need to absorb this beautiful teaching that Rebekka offered, (or this is how it landed in me…) that to do the work, (all the work, any good work), we need to find the balance of light and darkness… within, and without. As light rises and descends through the course of the solar year, so too do we radiate and reflect, shine our light and cast a shadow.
Every time I shine my light, I will cast a shadow.
The desire to not harm other people with shadow cannot be managed by refusing to shine our light, by withdrawing, by disappearing, by folding into ourselves.
I feel that flinching tendency in a lot of caring people I know… a shrinking into themselves when it comes to reconciliation, reparation or Indigenous relations… “I don’t want to do any harm, so I’ll just make myself very very small and sheepishly say, I’m just hear to listen…”
I saw it in myself, very starkly, a few years ago, when I saw a photograph of that flinch, of that shrinking of myself.
What I’ve learned since that day, when I saw that flinch, is that I/you/we need to inhabit the fullness of our own stories, our own bodies, and our own right to be on the Earth, in order to contribute meaningfully to reconciliation, reparation, regeneration, the healing of the Earth and the repair of culture and systems so they serve all Life, not just a few winners of the Domination Games.
An old proverb states that white hair doesn’t make an elder. Those who grow old without learning the story that is trying to live through them don’t become “old enough” or ancient enough to serve the dream of life.~Micheal Meade, The Water of Life
A story is trying to live through each of us, and to be people of integrity, we need to allow the light and shadow pieces of those stories to enjoy equal welcome within. And when we act from a place of integrity, of that kind of integration, (and hospitality towards our need for tenderness and care and medicine, and our awkwardness, ignorance, capacity to do harm), I think we can actually be part of the shift towards wholeness and harmony for all living beings… for genuine reconciliation and reparation.
So, I tended to my inner light and dark, today, in community, on this unceded land, as one gesture towards decolonization. And one path for me, of decolonization, is learning how to be a person of the Earth again, and coming to a huge appreciation for Indigenous ways of knowing and being, because of that personal shift.
There are, of course, many ways to contribute to this shift towards reparation and decolonization.
We are so fortunate to have an incredible cultural facility in our midst in the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and today, their exhibit, ANCIENT MEDICINES: FROM FEAST TO FAMINE TO FREEDOM, curated by Mix̲alhítsa7 – Alison Pascal, opens. Entry is free until July 3 and even if you can’t make it in to Whistler, you can access their resources on reconciliation at the website.
The amazing teachers Heather Joseph and Steve Evans collaborated to provide a drumming and singing celebration at the Pemberton & District Community Centre today for students of all ages. (Many thanks to Carol K for capturing this moment and to the Lil’wat drummers for making so much space in their hearts and days for the students.)
Today, the @ILSACrew auction goes live, for the next week, “shining a light on the local Indigenous youth in the Sea to Sky, and inviting YOU to support the programs that empowers our youth to be well and THRIVE. Sport saves lives, and with your help we can continue to provide more Indigenous youth access to our year-round sport programs in the Sea to Sky.”
Between June 21-27 you can bid on lots of cool items from the many amazing businesses who have decided to donate to ILSA’s virtual auction. All proceeds from this auction will go towards sport programs for Indigenous youth in the Sea to Sky, including snowboarding, skateboarding, biking, climbing and hiking.
This auction features some truly amazing items. So whether you wanna relax in a spa, try Indigenous skincare, enjoy fine dining, watch a BC Lions game, go biking, skiing, golfing, axe throwing, flying, horseback riding, upgrade your yoga practice or decorate your home with Indigenous designs – WE GOT YOU!
You can find the auction here: https://www.32auctions.com/ILSA
There are more and more beautiful ways to learn, decolonize, lean into allyship, support and uplift, available to us. May this upswell continue. On this day of time standing still, of a spacious pause, of light and illumination, I hope you can feel grounded in your body and your being, and know truly that you are here for a reason, you are meant to be here, and allowing your energy to flow towards right relations, repair and balance, is welcome. Receive your blessings, and then do whatever is within your power, to make the table bigger.