A message of strength from a young leader in Attawapiskat.


In our communities, not just here in Attawapiskat, there are drugs and alcohol. Many people I know use drugs to cope with everything that is going on in their lives, they use it as a way of letting go, of finding a moment of peace, where they do not have to think or feel or deal with all the chaos that may be happening around them or inside them. They use it as a means of self-medicating. It helps them to dull the pain and deal with their emotions.

Many of us have grown up seeing our parents use drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms, for many of us it is what we see with our peers. We do not have the resources in our community to help deal with these in a positive manner. We do not have sports or clubs in the evenings, we do not have a mall or a movie theater. We do not have many positive outlets and so people often turn to destructive behavior. We also do not have the facilities to deal with the hurt and pain in constructive ways.

We are a generation that is dealing with cultural appropriation everyday. Pharell Williams is on the cover of magazines in a headdress, Urban Outfitters is selling dreamcatchers and smudge kits made in China. Social media is not always an ally. People will say things and voice their racist ideas so easily on social media. The keyboard warriors. They would never have the balls to say it to my face but hiding behind their computer screens they pretend to be brave.

But our community is strong. Ceremony is coming back and people are connecting to their culture. This is a beautiful place and even those that are having a hard time and decide to leave often end up coming back because there is something here that connects us all. Attawapiskat feels peaceful. It feels good here, it feels like home. It feels like I don’t have to be anywhere else. There is a lot of stuff here that you can’t do out there, even the way you talk to people out there is different than the way you talk to people here. We are a humorous people. There is so much humor here that would not be appreciated by those from out of town. It is really important that we celebrate our culture, that we keep the traditions and teachings alive. It is important to me that people outside of Attawapisakt see all of this.

Resilience is not only surviving but it is also thriving, it is looking back to the all the ancestors, all the relations and learning from their successes, bring the spirit and the pride back. It is about being able to say they you are Cree and being proud or knowing whose territory you are on and giving thanks. It is about standing for what you believe in, standing for land and water and culture. It is about making sure others do the same. It is about starting movements, even if they are only movements of one. It is about having the courage and the strength to stand for yourself and your community. It is about speaking up, standing tall, speaking out against racism, against colonization.

Resiliency (noun) - the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

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