The First Step Feb. 2011 - Page 30

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you will land among the stars. As a young Indigenous man growing up in a really small and rural community, the world seemed like a vast and terrifying dystopia that had no want of me. I was one small boy in a world of six billion. There were countless other people who were more than me, better than me, more important than me. With this hanging over my head I would go home to my family, I would walk down the cracked tar road and see the dozens of broken down houses and stray children. There and only there would I feel at home, feel free. For many people who have no experience of Indigenous culture other than what is thrown across our television screens and newspapers, you would not understand this belonging, this need of home. Indeed as a university student about to graduate I know that the mask I wear in the urbanized world is much different from the one that I so proudly display at home. In trying to fit into this corporate world and make a difference in my own way, I need to change face, I need to cut and shave and transform myself into a professional that doesn’t offend people who have no idea about Indigenous culture. I have to turn away from that, turn corporate just to get a foot in the door. Indigenous culture is a rich, decadent and often misunderstood system of beliefs, traditions and heritage. It is hard to understand when on the face of our culture, which is so prominently exposed within government-dependant, poor and disadvantaged communities seemingly in the middle of nowhere, life seems to be bleak. Indeed if you were to walk into an Aboriginal mission more likely than not you will see pregnant teenagers, miscreant and drunk youth and adults alike passed out on the paths like disregarded objects. What you do not see as an observer is the passion, determination and love of community and kinship that exists in the darkest of these neighbourhoods. Like many in this world I have been through hard, arguably horrific times. I have seen the disastrous effects of substance abuse, underage pregnancy, domestic violence and racism. I have seen the dangers of this world I call home and I have bore the scars. But I have also seen the light; I have felt the intense spiritual connections to the land, to the people and the tradition. I have sat in yarning circles listening the old stories of my people that have been passed through generation and generations before that for over 60, 000 thousand years. I have seen the smiles and heard the laughter of children who know nothing more than pride for who they are, in a world that is still so judging, so unaccepting and blatantly uninformed. I have seen both sides of the coin and it is this that urges me on and has made me what I have become. These problems exist everywhere but this culture does not, it only sees life in our Indigenous communities, for we are unique in this world.