A few years ago I somehow magically found this First Nations blog that spoke to my soul.
I didn't know her, but I sure felt like I did after reading her words.
All I remember reading was her
connection to her home lands
To her grandmother & Their smoke house.
I thought who is this person that I feel like I knew but have never met?
I had to find her.
I needed to be friends with this being whose words I felt so drawn to.
Who knew that one day I would visit her home lands
and those sacred spaces that she wrote of.
It was last summer and it was
an insanely filled one.
I had taken on way too much but was unable to
refuse any of the invitations that kept coming.
I'd heard from my friend,
She had been telling me about their camp now for a few years.
Every year, I would say,
'Next year, I"ll come next year for sure.'
Something in me last summer felt that fear of missing out (FOMO).
What if there isn't a next year?
What if next year comes and I can't go?
What if? There were lot's of would if's,
but mostly the what if's that we all pretend won't happen?
Like would if we die :O
So, I finally accepted the invitation and made it to her ancestral home lands.
I jumped on a plane, with no idea where I was going.
with my bare necessities,
& buuches (underwear).
All I knew was,
Sign me up!
Take me there!
Where ever there was!
She had picked me up in her fully packed SUV.
She was on her way home to marry the love of her life, who've I yet to met but of course sounds just as amazing as her!
Again, had no idea where we were going.
All I knew was it was a camp & I was ready to rough it.
Thinking I was going to be sleeping in a tent,
peeing in the bush
as I had zero time to grab food with my mad dash of
& few hours of rest.
I'd definitely been choosing sleep over food
so bring on the wild dreams I thought.
There were beautiful little cabins
the prettiest outhouse that'd I'd ever pee'd in!
All I could think about were the outhouses from my childhood
and how these ones were
five star outhouses
compared to ours (giggles).
We'd arrived to this sacred place I had read about all those years ago
& it was even more magical than I could have ever imagined.
Oh my heart.
it felt like a time warp.
like I went back to 12 years old.
camping with my grandparents
hearing the language
seeing the laughter
hearing the stories
feeling the teachings.
Though I was stranger on their homelands.
I & they felt like family.
they welcomed me with such warmth.
They shared their home.
I'd shared this tiny cabin that had two small rooms with this elderly couple.
Every night I"d hear them through the wall, giggling
Every morning I'd hear them
whispering stories in their language.
I lay there smiling thinking,
I could just stay here forever.
No crazy lists ran through my head.
No places I was running late to.
No emails, no cell reception,
oh how dreamy!!
I'd just gotten my new Sony A7III and was clueless on how to use it as I"ve always been a canon girl.
Canon and Sony are completely different so I was mostly silently swearing at it.
(when I wasn't giving lessons to this photographer in the making)
With Sony I've had to convert my files to even share them and anyone who knows me
knows I am no tech person! Never mind colour calibration nightmare stuff.
So though this blog was from last summer,
those be my lame excuses for just getting to this now.
Plus, it feels kind of fitting to share it just now.
Back to that fear of missing out
Back to those what if fears.
My friends mother had contacted me to let me know the couple I shared sleeping space with
he'd lost his wife recently and they wondered if I had any photos to share with the family.
though I had only met them that one time and spent a few days with them.
I looked through all the images with a big lump in my throat and watery eyes.
And as much as I want to share more of her here,
I'm follow my heart and not
as I'm not sure if they too put their loved ones images away after they pass.
But he though.
He was so quiet,
I don't think I even heard him speak the entire time I was there
other than to his wife
& that was always a whisper in his language
I'd see him thoughout the camp
I'd try to be helpful.
but I mostly just tried to be to be quiet and present around him.
I wondered what took his voice.
I wondered what their love story was.
I wondered who would hear his soft spoken words now?
Though I imagine he still silently speaks to her.
& she probably still speaks to him even if only in his dreams.
Maybe if I'm quiet & still enough when I return
he might be there again
and maybe he just might share with me
or I can share with him
the videos I have of her.
Either way I am extremely grateful for my new friends I made in the north.
They had me laughing so hard that my cheeks hurt
They had me laughing so hard that tears fell from the side of my face
They had me laughing so hard that my laugh had zero sound
It had been a very long time since I had that kind of laughter and tears like those.
This women, my friend's mother.
Something about her
to just do what needs to be done.
Harvest, even if self taught like a complete crazy lady
Speak, teach and save her language.
She saw a gap and filled it without waiting for someone else to do it.
She knew what needed to be done and did it.
Her and her family have been coming to this land all their lives.
This has always been what they've done.
It's all they've ever known.
I admired my friends for too taking this time to learn
For taking time to return to the salmon.
For taking time to hear their mother's tongue (language)
For taking time to be reminded of what they've been told all their lives.
For taking time to learn exactly how to hang the salmon
That they must face this way and not the other way so the salmon will always return.
For learning how warm the fire should be
For learning which wood to burn.
So that they too,
can teach their children's children.
For years I"ve been photographing Traditional Foods Gatherings.
I"m absolutely fascinated by how others are in relations to their foods.
and how others are in relation to their rivers.
The four legged
and the unborn.
It was so beautiful to see their ways
I stood there listening to their language as they shared about
Though I obviously did not understand their language
In my heart I knew why they were sharing
just as why they knew back then
and just as they know now
Why they need to continue to protect
It wasn't until I was leaving,
we stood outside the smoke house that she wrote about all those years earlier
that I had realized it was
and those grandmother stories that brought me to my friend.
I heard and saw myself in her.
When you've been alone for so long in a world
that not only wants every part of you as a First Nations being
but also wants what you have as the first people's of this land.
in a world driven by dreams and dollars
it was a warm welcome to find this sister who shares the same sense.
This is my friend's home
This is her families home.
This is where the salmon return.
This is where her people have gone to connect with the land, the river, the language, and each other.
it is where they will stay
to protect those here today
to protect for those arriving tomorrow (unborn)
and probably even to one day once again,
shelter and nourish those trying to take this from them today & tomorrow.