"This is where my girl was surrounded and loved up by about a hundred Indigenous women from all walks of life. The room was filled with inspiration, many big laughs, lots of love, and above all else – the strength, beauty and resiliency that only Indigenous women carry."
The three of us were in the hospital; Cole and I were squeezed onto the tiny twin-size bed while Dani-Mae slept in the hospital bassinet beside us. It was around 2 AM and they were both finally sleeping after a long and exhausting day of labour and delivery. I lay there between the two of them, praying and thanking the Creator for my blessings.
Each morning, my daughter wakes up… she doesn’t cry, she just lays there and I can feel her. I feel her breathing change. I feel as she starts to reach around for me in the dark and silence.
I have learned that is important to hold yourself accountable and responsible for your own life. I have learned new ways of thinking and evaluating situations that are so much broader than the walls of my own mind. I have learned that it is okay to be compassionate, and humble and to feel everything so deeply – rather than trying to mask those feelings or act like they simply aren’t there.
We began by recording the traditional place name, which I learned and will forever refer to the place as, which is “Tr’inalaii.” We then recorded the story of where Tr’inalaii began and the importance it held in her life.
From the moment I jumped into the boat to head my Jijuu’s fish camp, I could literally feel my mind ease and my body begin to let go of tension and stress.
This class consists of eleven graduates, all from our little community of 900 people. To me, this class represents hard work, persistence and intelligence.
On the day that I was born, my Jijuu Christie Thompson gave me my Gwich’in name, “Gwikitch’ihkh’eh”, which means “In Return” because, as she said, I was the life given after his life was taken.
He was humble. He carried himself with a calm sense of confidence. He was a son and a brother. He was a man of the Lord.
I have made it a personal goal of mine to always carry my camera with me when I spend time with my Jijuu, because she’s always teaching me something new – from tanning a moose hide to setting a net under the ice in -40.