Thursday, April 29, 2021

A Conversation Stick


 

A Conversation Stick

 

My walking stick arrived and It is pretty cool. I never imagined I would get excited about something like this. Using a mobility aid is not something that I eagerly embrace, and I believe a lot of people resist using it for the same reasons that I reluctantly started using one.  

 

I have been using one for a couple of years after a stroke to prevent falls and give me some assistance when I am out and about. 

 

It's interesting to me that I was unwilling to use a cane, mostly because I thought it made me look vulnerable and old. And it shouldn't really, because in Indigenous cultures elders are revered. In current times, though, even Indigenous people are not living up to how our ancestors treated their elders. But I also didn't like answering questions about what happened to me and why I had to use an aid.  And if I am completely honest, perhaps I just didn’t want to be judged as weak.

 

When I thought more about it, though, I wondered why underneath I felt shame for requiring a cane. Where does that come from? Why did I feel shame?  It really doesn't make sense. After all we don't have those same feelings if we wear glasses do, we? I should just be grateful that I am able to have mobility, albeit slowly. 

 

Then, my daughter sent me a link to Neo-Walk, a company that designs and sells pretty cool looking walking sticks. They call it DNA. Which stands for “Do Not Ask.”  The updated design using vibrant colours and clear acrylic material are a huge step up from the traditional canes. Neo-Walk also makes customized walking stick. This interests me, and I'm going to put my mind and creativity to think of a design I would like them to make me.  I definitely like the feel of it.  It is sturdy and feels safe. What more could I ask for? Once I create my design, my conversations will not be focused or why, and I needed to use a walking stick, but on the cool design. Taking this perspective is empowering.

 

As with any challenges we faced, resilience happens out of the necessity of being creative and having a perspective that empowers. Living in a global pandemic has proven this over and over again as our freedom became restricted and we had to pivot the way we do business. Perhaps I will design a walking stick similar to the staff wielded by Gandalf from Lord of the Rings: something conveying resilience, greatness and perhaps even magic.   

 

Walking softly on Mother Earth, carrying a big stick.  When you see me walking approach me and don’t ask me about any disability. Ask me about my magic because this is what resilience looks like when you are a proud owner of a Neo-Walk walking stick!

PS My stick is also better than bacon!



Monday, April 12, 2021

I AM DENE; THEREFORE, I SPEAK DENESULINE

 





 Six generations of   incredible Dene women,  all fluent Desuline speakers My great grandma,Sophia grandma, Christine Adam my mom,  Therese Deranger big sister Dora Flett , her daughter, Donna Deranger, and her baby, Sandra  photo taken in the 1970's. Three generations of Dene speakers left in my family, by 2021



I was raised in a small northern community in Alberta, Canada, in the Hamlet of Fort Chipewyan among Cree, Dene, M├ętis and non-natives (settlers). Why did I put settlers in italics?  I don't like to use the term settlers because I view it as derogatory and dehumanizes a collective group.  After all, none of us are personally responsible for the actions of our ancestors. Moreover, in the age of reconciliation there is no need to shame. Reconciliation will only work if both parties know their actions have consequences, particularly in current times because we know better. To perpetuate the term settler does not bring us closer to reconciliation, but in fact continues to divide us.  

My parents and my grandparents spoke Denesuline fluently. Neither my parents nor my grandparents attended residential schools. We were poor but we spoke our language. As I get older, I am beginning to appreciate truly the richness of my Dene language and culture. It was the younger children like me who in my family attended residential school. You may be aware these schools were created by the government of Canada to kill the Indian within the child, and by and large it worked. It started first by preventing us from speaking our language and then creating a feeling of inferiority surrounding being Indigenous.  The culture of residential school perpetuated the feeling of never being good enough or measuring up to the non-Indigenous population.

I am a product of residential school at the same time I have the resilience of my ancestors flowing in my blood.  Residential schools created the conditions for Indigenous peoples to become ashamed of speaking their mother tongue. I had no choice into which family I would be born, just like those of European ancestry, which is why I feel strongly not to perpetuate calling them settlers. Why would I want to shame them?  

I have always held pride in the ability to understand Denesuline.

Really? To be completely honest with myself there must have been something holding me back from being able to speak Denesuline fluently. However, I will not blame residential school for not speaking my language today. It is ridiculous that I didn't master my language. After all I was raised hearing the language being spoken all around me. I should be fluent. But I am not.  And there is no pride in that.

 To say I am proud of being Dene comes with responsibility. That responsibility and honour is to keep our language alive.  And it is not too late.  A good friend, an advocate for keeping the Blackfoot language alive, Dr. Betty Bastien, once said to me all you need are two Indigenous speakers to keep a language alive.  Thankfully, we have more than that.  And after speaking to an author who wrote 90 books this weekend who said he writes books not about because he knows about something but rather to learn about a subject, he writes to learn more. It made perfect sense to me.  When I blog I am often trying to process something I'm going through.  He says we should question. Well, I am on a quest to learn why I am not fluent in my native tongue, and to change that fact.

 I am taking a stand to ensure that in the next generation, those under 60 years of age will become fluent in Denesuline.  Beginning with myself. The journey will begin with asking the question: “Why am I not a fluent speaker already?”   

When I moved to Ottawa my mother was still alive, and she kept the language alive for me. But recently I realized that I didn't know any Dene speakers in Ottawa, and I was losing my fluency. I wasn’t even hearing it any more. I knew I needed to do something fast before it was too late. This realization ignited a sense of urgency in me.

To that end I have made arrangements for a group of Denesuline speakers to meet monthly, beginning next month, to visit and speak our language. And since it is a pandemic and we are all over Canada, this will take place over the phone.  I think that the inquiry as to why I am not a fluent speaker will be something I will be discovering on my own and perhaps among this group, who have surely all faced challenges in maintaining their fluency. I want it to be like a group of friends just visiting, like in the old days.  But we will only be speaking Denesuline, even myself.

At the end of the day, I ought to discover pride for my mother tongue. And more importantly, to help revitalize a language that is far too close to extinction. Then I can honestly say with satisfaction” “I am Dene; therefore, I speak Denesuline,” because I will be assuming my responsibility for keeping Denesuline language alive in honour of my mother, and ancestors. This is what me being proud of being Denesuline looks like.

Walking my talk finally, by not fooling myself.

 


 



Blog Archive

Labels

#greencold-pressedjuice #healthcare #sisterlylove #healing #love (1) 100 days of gratitude (4) 2008 (1) 2010 review (2) 2012 (1) 2014 letters (1) 2015 (1) 2016 (1) 2018 (2) 2019 review (1) 26 years (1) 6th line (1) A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table (1) Acadia University (1) acai bowls (1) accident (1) accidents (1) ACDEN (3) ACFN (9) Addictions (4) Adia (1) Advertising (1) Africa (1) Agricultural benefits (1) Airbnb (1) Ajahn Brahm (1) Albert Mercredi (1) Alberta (1) Alberta government (1) Alcoholism (4) Alinker (1) Allan Adam (1) alternative care (1) Andrew (9) Andrew Gr.7 (1) andrew's books (1) Angelina (1) anger (1) animals (1) Annie Pootoogook (1) anniversary (7) apology (2) April (1) Arctic (1) artist (2) Arts (1) Asia (1) Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (1) attachment (1) Attawapiskat (1) August 2011 (1) aunt (1) Aunt Marie (1) Auschwitz (1) Australia (3) Autumn (2) Ayurveda (1) Baba (1) Bad to the bone (1) BBF (1) BC (1) Bennet Dam (1) Beverages (1) Beyak (1) bias (1) Bill C-31 (1) Billy (1) Biology (1) birthday (5) birthdays (1) blessing (2) blogging (3) blogs (1) Blood pressure (1) Bob Dylan (1) Bodhi (2) book review (3) Books (3) boys (1) brain (1) breast cancer (1) Brother (2) brothers (1) Buckminster Fuller (1) Buddhism (1) Buddhist (1) Burns (1) Bush (1) Business (1) camera (1) Canada (1) Canadians (1) cancer (1) Cancers (1) Captain Schettino (1) captain Sullenberger (1) Cars (1) cat (1) CBC (1) cell phones (1) Challenge (2) change (1) charity (1) Charles Camsell Hospital (1) cheating (1) Chief (2) Chief Adam (1) Chief Allan Adam (1) Children (1) China (1) Chipman House (1) Chocolate (1) choices (1) Cholangiocarcinoma (1) Christian (1) Christmas (8) Christmas 2015 (1) Christmas music (1) Christmas Mystery (1) classic cars (1) cleaning (1) climate change (1) cold (1) cold pressed juice (1) cold season (1) cold virus (1) colonic (1) Coma (1) communication (4) community (2) Consumer alert (1) conversations (2) Cook (1) coping (1) core (1) cottage (1) Cough (1) country life (4) covid (1) covid19 (2) Cows and Ploughs (1) CRE2015 conference (1) creative (1) Crisis (1) Daniel Lanois (1) Danielle (1) Dawn (1) daydreaming (1) Death (5) death life (1) deer (1) Dene (2) Dene Sayisi (1) Denesuline (1) dentist (1) deranger (2) destiny (1) desuline (1) Developed country (1) disc hernaiation (1) disconnected (1) Distracted drivers (1) DIY (1) doghead (1) dogs (1) Dorval (2) Dr. O’Connor (1) drama free (1) dreams (3) drive (1) Drum (1) drunk drivers (1) Dunrobin Ontario (1) earthquake (1) Edmond Metatawabin (1) Edmonton (2) Ego (1) Elderly (1) Elders (1) Election (2) election 2015 (2) electronics (1) Elegy for Mama (1) elope (1) emotions (2) Empire State Building (1) Enabling (1) energy (1) Environment (2) enzymes (1) Eulogy. (1) Executive Balinese Home (1) Facebook (4) fall (3) family (45) family tree (3) family vacation (2) farm (1) farmer's market (1) Father (1) Feb. 12 (1) feel good (1) Fiction (1) Fiji (1) fire (1) Fire 2016 (1) Firewater (1) First Nation (6) First Nations (4) First Nations Financial Transparency Act (1) fisher (1) Flora and Fauna (1) focus (1) fondue (1) Food (5) Food and Related Products (1) for sale (1) Forgiveness (1) Fort Chipewyan (20) Fort McMurray (12) Frank Abbott (1) Fred C Adam (1) freedom of speech (1) Freeze (1) French Toast (1) Freshman (1) Friend (1) friends (6) friendship (5) fun (3) functional medicine (1) future (1) Games (1) garden (2) Ghetto (1) Ghost (1) gifts (3) ginger tea (1) Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest (1) Goals (2) God (1) gofundme (1) Good bye Mom (1) goodbye (1) Governance (1) gratitude (3) green smoothie challenge (1) green smoothies (3) Green tea (1) greens (1) Gretchen (1) Gretchen Morgan (1) Grey Owl (1) guest book (1) habits (1) hair (1) halloween (1) happiness (7) Harold R Johnson (2) harvest (1) hawaii (5) healing (2) Healing Our Spirit World Wide (1) Health (12) health Brain (1) healthy (1) heart (1) Heart and Soul (1) Hearts (1) heatwave (3) Helen (1) helping (1) Henry's (1) here is what is (1) High School (1) Hilton Hotels (1) Historical fiction (1) Historical novel (1) history (1) holidays (6) Holy Angels (4) holy Angels residents (1) Home (2) homeless (1) homeopathic (1) hope (2) Horns (1) Horns: A Novel (1) horror (3) Hot chocolate (1) housework (1) hubby (2) Hummingbird Hill B and B (1) hurt (1) hurts (1) hypertension (1) Ila Bussidor (1) impermance (1) independence (1) Indian Act (2) Indian wedding (1) indigenous communities (2) Indigenous healthcare (1) Indigenous Peoples (1) integrity (1) intention (1) intergenerational trauma (1) Isidore (1) January blues (1) Jerry Seinfeld (1) Jian Ghomeshi (1) joe hill (1) Joseph Boyden (1) Joy Bliss Raw (1) juice (4) Karen (1) Kauai (3) Ke e Beach (1) kindeness (1) kindness (2) Kinship (1) Kitty Kelly (1) KMS (1) L (1) L l (1) L le (1) L lea (1) L lead (1) L leade (1) L leader (1) L leaders (1) L leadersh (1) L leadershi (1) L leadership (1) La Loche (1) Lac St. Anne (1) landline phone (1) laugh (1) Laughter (2) leadership (1) Lend Me a Tenor (1) Lent (2) Leonard Cohen (3) lessons (1) letting go (1) life (14) life skills (4) lifeskills (1) lifestyle (1) Lights (1) line ups (1) Lists (1) Literature (2) living (1) liz (1) lost dog (1) love (26) Lumahi Beach (1) Lunar ice (1) Mac (1) Macbook air (1) mad as hell (1) Mad Men (1) Magical universe (1) Makua beach (1) mama (12) manners (1) Maple syrup (1) March winter (1) Margo (2) marriage (1) Mary (2) Mary Olive (1) Massage (1) Master Cleanse (1) Matt Lauer (1) Max Deranger (1) MD (1) Meaning of life (1) media (1) meditation (5) meeting (1) Melbourne (1) members (1) men (1) Mental health (2) miata MX5 (1) Mike and Kay (1) mind (1) Mindful (1) Missing and Murdered women and girls (1) Molly Wizenberg (1) mom (1) moments (2) Moneca (1) Money (2) Montessori method (1) Montreal (2) Moon (1) Mother Earth (1) mothers (1) Music (2) Music Box (1) musician (1) musing (1) my birthday wish (1) MySpace (1) nap (1) NASA (1) National Arts Centre (1) National Youth forum (1) Natural law (1) Nature (4) Nechi (1) Neil Young (1) New Year's resolution (4) New Years (2) New York City (1) news (1) newsletter (2) Night Spirits (1) no snow (1) Norman Doige (1) Novel (1) November madness (1) nuheyatie (1) Nuns (1) Nurses (2) NYC (1) Obama (1) Odyssey trip (1) oilsands (3) old days (1) On the Web (1) Onion (1) Onions and Garlic (1) Online Communities (2) Online Writing (1) opinion (1) opioids (1) Oprah (1) Oprah Winfrey (2) Organic food (1) Ottawa (2) Ottawa River (3) Pacific Foods (1) pain (1) painting (1) pandemic 2020.doctor (1) Paris (1) passion (1) pat brother. (1) Patric (3) Pay-Per-Click Advertising (1) Peace (3) Peggy Blair (1) People (1) People and Society (2) Personal finance (1) Peru (1) pets (1) picnic (2) pizza (1) planes (1) Play (1) plumber (1) poem (2) poet (2) point claire (2) Poland (2) politics (3) pollution (1) pond (1) Pool (3) Port Alberni (1) power (1) power outage (1) present (2) Princeville (1) privacy (1) Produce (1) Promotion (1) public washroom (1) Publications (1) purpose (2) Q (1) Quebec City (2) Racism (1) raclette (1) Radha Agrawal community (1) random (1) Range Rover Evoque (1) raw foods (6) RCMP (1) RECONCILIATION (2) Reflection (1) rehabilitation (2) relationships (12) relaxing (2) religion (1) remembrance day (1) repairs (1) Residential School (2) Residential schools (2) resolution (1) responsibility (1) Review (1) Rick Mehta (1) Riddell street (1) rituals (1) river (1) River musings (1) Roger (1) Rose (1) Rossi (3) rumi (1) Rupert Ross (1) sacrifice (1) sadness (1) sailboats (1) Salad (1) Saskatchewan (1) Saturday (1) school (1) schools (1) Scotland (1) Scottish independence (1) Search Engines (1) seasons (1) Second Life (1) Security (2) self care (2) Self identifying as indigenous (1) sensual (1) sept 2 (1) September 18th 2014 (1) Services (1) shakespeare (1) Shanghai (1) sheep (1) Shepherds of Good Hope (1) shooting (1) Shopping (3) Sigh (1) silence (1) singer (1) Sisters (4) sisters. good bye Love (1) skiing (1) sleep (1) small town (1) smile (1) Smoothie (1) snake (1) snow (3) Social Media (5) Social network (3) Social network service (1) Social Networking (1) Society and Culture (2) solocree (1) song (1) Sorapot (1) Sorry (1) soul (2) Soul School (1) souls (2) Spa (1) Specific Claims (1) Spirit of Christmas (1) Spreadsheet (1) Spring (2) Status Indian (1) Stieg Larsson (1) Stillness (1) storytelling (1) Street people (1) strength (1) stress (2) stroke (2) success (1) summer (2) Summer 2012 (3) Summer 2013 (1) summer fun (1) summer intention (1) Sunday 160 (7) sunday picture (1) sunny ways (1) sunrise (1) sunset (1) Surgery (1) surprise (1) Tag (1) tansi (1) Tea (5) Technology (1) Teenagers (1) Tesla (1) thanks (1) Thanksgiving (2) the real you (1) Theatre (1) Therese Deranger (2) thinking (1) thoughts (1) Time (2) tooth (1) Toronto (2) Toxins (1) tradition (1) traffic (1) transformation (1) trapper (1) travel (1) Treaty No.6 (1) Treaty No.8 (2) tribe (1) truth (2) turkey (2) turtles (1) tweets (1) twitter (3) UFO (1) University (1) University of Warsaw (1) unplugged (1) Uranium city (1) vacation (1) Valentine's Day (2) values (1) Victoria (1) Vik (1) vistors (1) vote (1) walk (1) Warsaw (1) Water fasting (1) weather (1) Web Design and Development (1) weddings (2) weight (1) Wellness (1) William Blake (1) William Ricketts (1) Williams (1) Winnipeg (2) winter (2) WIPCE (1) Women (1) world series (1) World War II (1) writer (1) year in review (3) Yma Sumac (1) yoga (1) Youth (1) zombies (1)