Lately, I have been thinking quite a bit about the experiences I have shared with you over the past few months.
I have quite intentionally left out some very important people in my life. I have done this mainly because I wanted to share my own story, my own experiences. I do not believe it is ever appropriate to tell someone else’s story unless it is needed or you have permission. But the omission of these people has not meant they have been entirely absent from my writing. I feel them there, silently on the sidelines, reading my articles, sharing, proofreading, encouraging and sometimes just silently supporting.
In the circles I travel, the company I keep, and the family I love, there is a common theme: non-Indigenous. Sometimes, I too have felt non-Indigenous. It was at one time in my life very common for people who have known me for a long time to say ,“Lori, I don’t see you that way!” I have been told that I don’t seem “native.” I have at times been grateful to have been seen that way. That is a belief I have changed though. I want you to see me now as the proud Cree woman I have become. I am no longer ashamed of my heritage. However, I do continue to find myself surrounded by non-Indigenous people.
I have very few Indigenous family members with whom I converse regularly. I have a few co-workers and community members, and my fellow board members on the WACA board. Though the Indigenous people in my life may be few, they are definitely mighty. I have been fortunate to meet and get to know many people who teach and encourage me daily, knowing in turn I teach and encourage others.
My circumstances have shaped and molded me into the person I have become. While being a child of the Sixties Scoop comes with its unfair share of disadvantages, I feel I am dishonouring those around me if I don’t show you the whole picture. I am fortunate in that I was brought into a stable home. It was not perfect, but no home is. Because of this home I was given values and beliefs that have served me well.
I am fortunate that no matter how down and out I have been in my life, when I was ready (tail between my legs) to return home, I did have family I could call. I am lucky because of that family. Today when I need it most, I have their admiration, love and support.
I have a set of parents who have raised me since I was three years old. They have loved me, fed me, grounded me, guided me and have let me live my life. They quietly support me in all that I do in life. They don’t judge me. I have the utmost respect for them. That’s how I was raised. It is unfathomable for me to think otherwise. We have lived a full life together. They are not blood but they are family.
My adopted family comes with a very large, very close, extended family; I have aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, most of whom walk my journey with me. My family is definitely near the top of my gratitude list.
If you read my Sixties Scoop article, you know that I struggle with belong- ing. That is a concept that is really hard to articulate. It’s like I feel alone in a room full of people. If you understand that statement, I need not explain further. If you don’t, you may not struggle with belonging and self-worth. Hold on to that, don’t let self-doubt ever get in your way! Even though I have been surrounded by family, I have often felt alone.
While I will never again take away or belittle my struggles as an Indigenous woman and survivor of the Sixties Scoop, I also don’t want to appear the victim. I am no victim. I am definitely a survivor. The journey has been hard. When I reach a plateau on my journey of life and am able to take a break to catch my breath, I look back at the story of my life. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cringe, and sometimes I cry. Although there have been very few constants in my life the constants I do have, have all been family. My son Alex, my Mom, my Dad and my very large extended family, if you saw yourselves in this story, that’s because you were there!