October 26, 2011 By: Tara Beaver
Source: Cochrane Eagle Online
I recently went to a workshop in Calgary with Canada Bridges. It was quite the experience.
I found out about it through a woman I met. I told her about my column in The Eagle and she directed me to Canada Bridges.
I visited the website (canadabridges.com) but was still clueless on how it worked. Just like everything else I have done in my life, I just went with it.
On Saturday I was in the workshop with a group full of women, most of whom were Muslim. I was the only Aboriginal there. At first I felt so uncomfortable because I didn’t know anyone. We were in a classroom, and the first exercise was partnering up and introducing yourself. We didn’t have much time to talk but enough time to introduce each other which made me feel more at ease listening to everyone,.
They called it the icebreaker, which makes a lot of sense. They had us review our goals, then write out our wisdom story. Our wisdom story is just about our life and the experiences that made us who we are today. Our wisdom stories are living and will always change.
We haven’t got to sharing our wisdom story yet, but will do that on the next weekend. We learned about community mapping, which is like taking a closer look at our communities on paper. We also created a community that we would like to see. For that Sunday we were asked to bring an artifact that has a meaning in our lives.
Now, I knew that mine was going to be personal and emotional because I’ve worn it every day since the day I got it. When it was time to share, the first few the other women shared got me teary because I felt their emotion of what they went through and why the artifact had so much meaning to them.
Some of the stories were about divorce. One was about the loss of her father, which was common to mine. One girl brought her jogging belt.
When I shared my artifact I cried; it was the ring my grandfather gave me. He always said that he would give me the ring off his finger one day. I never knew when until the day my grandmother gave me it during Christmas a year or two after he passed. I cried when I got it.
I cried when I shared my story, feeling no judgement. We all had something that affected us, that made us who and what we are today.
After this I was even more comfortable with the group, so I started asking questions about their religion. I learned that they were all different in culture but the same religion. I realized how common we were but to just look and judge we would think we were different. I learned a lot on how to get back to my own roots and wear it with pride because that’s who I am.
Tara Beaver grew up on the Stoney Nakoda Nation but went to school in Cochrane. She hopes to be a positive voice for change when it comes to issues within First Nation communities.