La Bonne Anee, Happy New Year!
2016 started out to be an exciting year filled with both familiar settings and new opportunity. I was excited to share the news of the First Peoples Fund Artist in Business fellowship. It was an amazing experience for which I will always be appreciative for. The appreciation for this group is that they had faith in my beliefs and what I do, which will last a lifetime. Chi miigwech, many thanks, to all for their support, enthusiasm and well wishes. And thank you to those who have invested in purchasing work from me. Your patronage allows me to continue my practice in art and be able to invest in the tools needed for sustainability.
I admit that 2016 had taken me for a spin also. There was a lot of growth over this year and I am thankful for everyone that I have met along the way. As someone who grew up in an isolated circle, taking time for various priorities, the act of putting myself out there was a learning experience. I was not exactly the type of person who felt they learned much from institutions, I need and crave hands on involvement. Being out in the real world made the most sense to me. Because of this, I will be a student for the rest of my life. Continually learning. Not only in my career, but personally as well. I am far from perfect by anyone’s standards, including my own. There are things that happened in this last year that I cannot explain, or interpret yet, though they have left lasting impressions.
I was amazed to see what is happening in Indian Country and beyond. There’s much unity. With growth and success, there is bound to be setbacks and indifferences. I am very proud, despite the heartache, to witness, and to be part of something great. What I have learned over my short time here on Turtle Island, is that we won’t always agree. We shouldn’t allow disagreements to break bonds and relationships. However, we should not force relationships nor allow toxicity into our spaces.
My heart was filled with hope as I seen the unity that came to be when a plea was sent out by Native youth and it was answered by our elders and peers around the world. I am in awe of the strength in women and sisterhood. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for protecting Aki, Grandmother Earth.
My work is often inspired by what is happening around us as it is happening. Artists are first responders to the world around us. Over the years, I have seen that our concerns in Indian Country continue. We need respect and prosperity. When children raised concerns about the welfare of our water and environment, the response by many was beautiful. Many people have stepped up to the challenge. With that, we need to remember that these issues are not over. Please do not forget the people of Standing Rock, and around the world. We have opportunity to be better and make smarter choices. It all starts with us as individuals.
I am happy 2016 concluded. It had its triumphs and I also feel that an alarming fear has overcome me in many ways. For my entire existence as Indigenous woman, Anishinaabkwe, I am aware of oppression, disconnect, trauma… the experiences are rampant. I listen to many people discuss their concerns of society/ I share some of those concerns. Now, I see that these issues are far from ever going away, instead, the ugliness of survival is coming full force. Despite what our immediate future holds, I am going to stay hopeful in the ability to survive through darker times. We will navigate together if we are willing to.
I observed a conversation regarding “colorism,” and other issues such as lateral violence. There are people that overcome adversity. Others try to navigate their way through. What works for one person does not work for others. It is a truth that I have learned with my health, spirituality, relationships, and career.
I am astounded by how we continually judge people by appearances. Weeks ago, a young man said, “why does racism exist?” My heart ached as I am often afflicted by this same question. I was not able to come up with total words of wisdom, but I offered, “many people desire control, especially over others. Many will fear what is different, unfamiliar, and they choose not to understand. I’m glad that you are here to ask such an important question.” We all differ from one another, as the Creator intended. Differences and diversity are wonderful things. These things should not be faults as some treat them. Differences should be embraced and celebrated.
I absolutely love learning about others, accepting differences is important. This gives me the capability to grow. I may not learn as fast as others, but I keep persevering. I believe to make those changes within oneself, remove fear, and to share your growth with others. Hopefully, others are willing to see those positive changes, as well as respect your happiness.
With that rambling and reflection, I’m excited, anxious, nervous as we move into the new year. I look forward to more growth within me, I look forward to the world to rise above. Cheers to 2017. I am thankful that I can begin the year with healthy children, a healthy husband, and my perpetual awkwardness.
Ready for a New Year and New Adventures.
Chii miigwech 2016.
BooZhoo, Aniin 2017!