Aaniin! As the week draws to an end, I’m keeping in mind special intentions while making a little extra time for self-care. It’s Mental Health Week at the University of Toronto, and a reminder to check-in with ourselves and remember that our needs are important. Over the past few years I’ve been forced to address my mental health… I’ve learned to take time to practice mindfulness and listen to my body so that I might take those steps towards recovery. It is no easy task to maintain a balance between work, school, and a social life as a student. It was during my time as a student in post-secondary that I realized the need for self-care. For me, that began when I started to make time to look after myself.
On September 30th we honoured the children that were taken away from their families and forced into residential schools. We do so each year on Orange Shirt Day by taking time to honour those that survived and those that never made it home. The Ciimaan/Kahuwe’yá/Quajaq Indigenous Language Initiative run through the Centre of Indigenous Studies invited community members to bead orange shirts together this year. As someone who has had no experience in beading, I found rather than feeling daunted by the task, I was eager to learn. Jenny Blackbird, from the Indigenous Language Initiative, welcomed us and created a great space to learn together. She took the time to teach us how to introduce ourselves in Anishinaabemowin and practice the language through beading conversation.
Pehkihsh nikawiihsin mekwaac anohkiiyaan. I’m going to eat while I’m working.
Sitting in our beading circle, it was easy to make connections to those around the table as we shared stories and food. I truly value the advocacy and support that comes from a sense of community, as we encourage one another to reach our goals in a safe and secure environment. Beading is medicine – it encourages us to find moments of reflection while we work. Beading is one way that we can reclaim our culture, and to be able to learn and speak our languages while we do is powerful.
I am so honoured to be able to share these experiences with Indigenous community members…all I can find myself being able to say is chii-miigwech!