New food for thought this week as Iím researching and gluing ideas together to develop plans that I hope one day will reach fruition. One of those thoughts is examining what ďdecolonizationĒ means to me. Not so much the definition of decolonization, but what that looks like inside myself. How dig away layers and address my colonial mindset. How did that happen and how to change it.
So heres the thing, I believe strongly that we need vision for our lives. A place to work towards. That includes every aspect of ourselves. Our spirituality if you will, our way of living, our ways we interact with others and ourselves. I think of vision on micro and macro level. Big change for the people but big change for myself too.
I think really looking at colonial impacts on the inside is challenging. It means thinking through what societal norms are that forced into being within my own thought process. What outside influences have created these thought processes in my life? Where did they come from and how do they influence how I think?
An example for me, is the influence of christianity and the church. Which if you didnít know, we grew up in the church. Which of course varied depending on my dadís philosophy and doctrine. But it did have a deep influence on the way I think from then to now.
Heres the thing, I donít hate christianity by any means. I just question how religion can be put into a container so to speak. Religion isnít even the right word I would use for what I believe now a days on a deep level. Its critical thinking, combined with teachings, layered with perspectives from people Iíve met, visited with and listened to in my travels. It ceremonies, healings and other ďthingsĒ that I canít even explain without sounding crazy. To take it further, for me its examining how I pray, how I think in addressing the spiritual world, how I talk about the understanding I have of life/spirituality. Christianity is something I question since I feel like its had a big influence on our people in a variety of ways. Personally it forces me to look at myself on a deep spiritual level and make the effort to rethink my own way of being. Change the way I pray, the way I focus while Iím praying. Its many things.
Part of the decolonization convo I often have with myself, is sometimes making a list. This used to be a very painful and emotional process to create a list of things I need to work on to change the way my mind thinks. It would bring back those child-like feelings of ďits not my faultĒ or just plain sadness in knowing being adopted Iíve lost out on years to learn from my own people. Now its not so heavy. Its more a deeper critical analysis. I havenít made a list so far. Iím just skimming the surface for now. Since the last few weeks have been really emotionally heavy and draining. Which means good and Ďabout timeí but makes me tired out. I donít know if the list is needed. I think its more about looking inside more often, being good enough to do that, and continually assessing if I am changing for the better.
I think though growing up as an outsider to the ďindian world,Ē did expose me more to euro-centric ways of thinking. I was completely immersed in a non-native world from birth to the age of 16. Sometimes though in examining this, it becomes hard to separate the emotional baggage from the impacts on the way I think and act. I instead of critical thinking about key events that have changed me, I think about the abuse, neglect and sad feelings; getting the two mixed up. Therefore not actually being affective in what I sought out to do.
I battle social norms alot in my head. Its a constant. I donít think that is just me, I think we all do it to some degree because social norms are ideas that society as whole accepts. For example, going to university is how you get a good job in this world or how everyone should be married and have 2.5 children. Things like that. I would argue we are taught to be consumers and to be focused on only getting ourselves ahead. Success is being famous and rich in whatever field of work you choose to go into. It for me means being materialist and selfish. Both are things I struggle with. I struggle with not defining success by accepted social norm ideas. That no, I am the uneducated and the path Iíve taken is very different than what society tells me to do. I am not married, nor have children. Which as women are the accepted things a woman does. Which totally frustrates me. Beyond challenging the social norms, I want to get them out of my head. I want to be able see what has been ingrained in my mind. Thats the real challenge.
Vision to me is thinking beyond myself. Thinking deep into the future. Looking at myself as part a large whole. An individual yes, but part of a likeminded movement. This means thinking about what it means to decolonize. So here it goes: its working on myself to be a better person and heal from the past; its thinking about the future of my family and what it means to be a good relative; it means figuring out how to be a part of solutions to the many challenges our people face. Really though its something small like seeing my dadís community create a fifteen year plan for basic self sufficiency or sustainable development- basic things like food security, housing, energy and water. Its working towards the sacred dreams Iíve been given and in turn learning as much as I can to bring back to my family one day. It means thinking about the work that I do through non-profits- assessing it constantly. Its many things.
I hope though honestly I will live to be an ole ole lady one day and see the success of visions we all have. The impacts of movements across the lands. Really truthfully, that we are no longer dependent on systems that have failed. That we have figured out as a people-serious change; hopefully that we have changed the face of Canada and its citizens. That the way we live has drastically changed for the better whatever that looks like. I hope in my life to make a contribution to the whole, to be a part of something greater than myself.