My name is Emily and I live the traditional native way of life. Let me tell you who I am and about my journey. As a mental health professional, I have worked with every population there is, from children and their families to people incarcerated. Interestingly enough I was introduced more extensively to Native American practices and beliefs within the correctional setting. I was first shocked by the over-representation of the population within the correctional setting in Canada and made it a point to work in collaboration with the Elders so I could work in a culturally sensitive manner. I also started attending ceremonies such as healing circles and pow wows and got involved on the Aboriginal grounds.
Following my work in institutions, I worked with the same population but on the streets. In an area that most people don’t want to go, in an area where Native people are over-represented, where the prevalence of substance abuse and mental health issues is very high. Where Indigenous women go missing every year. In an area where people are real, genuine and who appreciated the bannock I bring to work 🙂 Although I am still in that area every week, I now work with a younger population, youth struggling with mental health and substance use issues. I oversee many programs for them and help create new ones that are culturally appropriate. 50 to 70% of the youth I work with are First Nations and it is extremely important to me to offer them services that include a cultural and spiritual component. To help them continue to have that connection or to reconnect them with the way of their ancestors as a way to heal.
My way of life….
The first time I attended a healing circle and stepped on the Aboriginal grounds, the first thought that came into my mind was “I am home”. The Native way of life was so familiar to me, without ever having had experienced it before. I know it runs in my blood. So, over time I have worked with Elders, educated myself about Native American beliefs, cultures and trauma. I have integrated practices in my daily life. As it was once told to me, it is a way of life, whether your skin is dark or pale. And it is my way of life. I find clarity and peace within that way. And I wish for the story of Native peoples to be told and heard, so that healing can take place, so that the cycle of intergenerational trauma can be broken. Elders say that what we do affect the next seven generations. How about we heal and live a simpler life so that the next generations can too?
I come from a wonderful family and have amazing loving and supportive parents. But somehow I have an innate ability to understand pain and the trauma some have gone through (as well as my trauma and the stories I was fortunate enough to hear from clients and survivors. All my life, I knew I was more sensitive than most. I did not understand it at the time, but I could feel what others could feel, as though I was the one feeling it. I could also and can still connect to animals, petting and being close to animals most struggle petting. I know I feel some things differently than others and the Native way has helped me understand the connection we all share. Our spirits are connected.
My goal with this website is to share the knowledge I have acquired and that was passed down to me with you, to share my personal experience, to share the beauty of the peoples and cultures as well as their wounds. And it would be so nice if people could use this space to exchange on their experience, knowledge, resources and services. The oral tradition prevails within the Native culture so stories are welcome as well as ideas and pictures. I hope this space is filled with hope, compassion and beauty.
May there be beauty above me, may there be beauty below me, may there be beauty in me, may there be beauty all around me.
All my Relations (Mitakuye-Oyasin)