Betrayal   Mixed Media on book page 5″x8″

I’ve been invited to speak with Chief Robert Joseph by the Zawiyah Foundation in Vancouver British Columbia.  The topic is Indigenous Principles and Love.

When looking back to my childhood and thinking about the indirect teachings about Ts’msyen culture the outstanding experience is betrayal.  A part of forgiving my father for his sexual abuse toward me and my daughters was to embark on investigating the pathway that lead him to betray his offspring.

His mother, my grandmother grew up in St. Michael’s Indian Residential School in Alert Bay, British Columbia.  I understand from my uncles and my father that her methods for punishment and control were brutal.  I know of only two incidents that he would speak of and they included my grandmother leaving him tied to the leg of the kitchen table for the day when he was about five years old.  One of his brother’s spoke of her taking a piece of chopped firewood and beating him with it because he wasn’t fast enough at chopping the wood for their stove, he was seven years old.

Growing up with incest created internal chaos and a shame core that as a parent was triggered when I was faced with powerlessness.  Rage was the behavior I resorted to in an attempt to deactivate my stimulated nervous system but rather than restoring balance, it increased my shame.  I was failing as a parent.  What stopped the insatiable appetite of  intergenerational shame?  For me, it wasn’t the Christian church, it was through land-based ceremonies–the Sweat Lodge and Fasting Lodges that brought me back to the unashamed self.  I found a healing place where the ground of forgiveness and love are the same discipline and where the desire to help others to heal becomes the sprout of a strong tree planted by the water.