Bet'a nini xa t'asi k'anedher (Do More of What Makes You Happy)
Remember you cannot give water to those with an empty cup; take care of yourself. Go back to the land when you need to heal yourself. The water and land will rejuvenate your spirit. Learn your gifts, and share them with others. Nourish your soul with good medicine. Be respectful of everything around you. Know you are blessed with incredible family and surrounded by unconditional love.
Niltsi begha nika se tthi gha t'a sanadher (I Love How the Wind Plays with My Hair)
Be carefree, learn to enjoy life in the present moment. Dance to your own heartbeat. Be creative and express yourself in many ways. Surround yourself with people who live “in a good way”. Laughter is good medicine. Surround yourself with like-minded change makers. Be humble, and enjoy life.
Si hare nastser (I Am My Own Strength)
Be confident in your choices, be accountable to yourself and others. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Learn the history of Indigenous people, and revitalize collectively the traditional forms of government. You are strong, powerful, resilient future leaders. Don’t let anyone control how you feel; always go with your intuition. Learn to speak up when necessary, your voice is powerful, use it.
This happiness: Ederi huzu ?at'e
Remember Where You Come From
Go to the Elders, the grandmothers and grandfathers; they will be there to teach and comfort you. Learn to listen to what the Elders are teaching when they share stories with you; pay them in tobacco or items they may need. Our Elders are our “computers.” They hold the wisdom, and knowledge of the Indigenous ‘ways of knowing”. Know you are loved dearly by your grandparents.
My children are half Dënesųłiné and Blackfoot — I call them my Dene-Foots. As an Indigenous mother living in a large urban environment, I strive to raise my children to be respectful of the land with which they are connected.
I became a mother at 17. I remember the moment I told my dad I was pregnant. He told me, “Your baby is your responsibility, and only yours to take care of.” I made myself a promise to do whatever I needed to do to raise my child the best way I knew how, even though I was still a child myself. I gave birth to my second son 20 months later and still graduated from high school. In my second year of college, my daughter was born. I had given birth to three blessings by the time I was 22-years-old.
My children are my everything. I am truly honored to be their mother, and grateful to have them in my life. As their mother, I try to raise them as best I can. I have been complimented on how “good” my children are. It shows in their interactions with other people. They are kind, respectful, loving, and caring people.
We live in Calgary, Alberta; one of the most urbanized cities in western Canada. More than half of Indigenous people in Canada now live in cities. For me, living here means more opportunity. But at times, the grind of urban life feels so far removed from the land that has sustained my people for generations, I sometimes struggle to keep my kids connected to their land and culture. Living in a “concrete jungle” leaves little room for opportunity to teach my kids to have respect for the land and water but I try.
I occasionally take them out to the mountains. Lately, it has been difficult as I no longer have a vehicle of my own. In the past, we would go to Banff, hike Elbow Falls, canoe across Glenmore Reservoir, and walk the paths of Fish Creek Park.
I am blessed to be from Lutsel K’e which is located in the east arm of the Great Slave Lake. My children have travelled “home” with me to my community to visit, and have experienced being on the land. They have picked berries, eaten fresh trout and white fish, eaten moose and caribou meat, and drank fresh lake water. Because of these experiences my children have been able to establish a connection to the land.
I bring my children to ceremonies, and to the Elders; this I made sure of as I believe in giving my children the ability to learn spirituality. I want my children to learn from Elders because they hold important teachings about respect for the land, and water. For example, the land provides everything we need to survive such as caribou/moose meat, medicines, and berries.
I also passed on the knowledge that water is source of all life, and is a living spirit. I have been taught well by my family, and grandmothers. I carry them with me in my words when speaking to my kids. For example, I teach my kids to pay the land with tobacco when travelling, to have safe journeys.