Not too much has changed in how we celebrate Christmas nowadays. Our families have grown. Between snags and sweeties, life long partners and broken hearts, we have built up our family enough that Mom's house is now much like Grandma Boyer's house was back in the day - full of laughter and food, cousins and stories.
And I do need help – and help is here. My brothers and their families, my parents, my best friends, my friends, and so on. If I need help, I just have to ask. Aerie is loved by many, and that is so good. She has a million aunties, just like any rez kid.
I splurge on a coffee I cannot afford, and I smile. The sun is shining. The mountains are outside the window. I write poetry. I am loved. All is well.
But slowly, slowly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t feel the joy. I couldn’t feel the passion. I felt… grey. Nothing. Absent. I went through the motions and denied that anything was wrong. Or I would sigh and shake my head, because even if something was wrong, there was nothing anyone could do to “fix it.”
I stood still for a second, listening to the Rez accents in a big city, the sweet rush of ocean wind blowing through our hair, and I smiled. Sometimes you find kin in the most unexpected places.
I've been photographing my Northern Grads going onto my seventh summer. I have worked in Beauval, Patuanak, Meadow Lake, Birch Narrows, Prince Albert, Rosthern and North Battleford. I have worked with my Métis, Dene and Cree kids while laughing at thick accents and the massive amount of family members that show up for 'immediate family only' images.
I needed a very specific shot of an Indigenous woman, standing proud, playful, and sensual. No biggie. Just decolonizing images, one Indigenous at a time.
One of the first dates I went on was with a white guy. Which was new for me. Being from a small Northern Indigenous community, I usually dated Dene’s, Cree’s and sometimes, when I was feeling exotic, Métis. But “dating” in the North – it’s not like in the city.
I watched the skyline of Toronto being bathed in the golden light of sunset and laughed, frustrated. The skyline blocked out all that natural light from hitting us – so how do the Toronto photographers do this?
I don't love studio work, but I accept the challenge. I want to try. I want to learn. I want to make the mistakes.