Consider This: My Journey of Healing….

Yesterday I headed back to Kehewin (my home) to continue on my healing journey. It’s a journey that I have been on for many years now. It’s…

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Yesterday I headed back to Kehewin (my home) to continue on my healing journey. It’s a journey that I have been on for many years now. It’s a journey that began with Nohtawiy (my father).

Nohtawiy (my father)George Dion, is a Blue Quills Indian Residential School survivor, and he is the reason why Orange Shirt Day on campus became such an intimate initiative for me — as it has been a time for me to honor my father’s journey and the journeys of all the other survivors. It also gave me the courage to acknowledge that I am a first generation survivor. I’ve recognized that the healing needs to start within me (and my generation) so that as I raise my son (the next generation), he can be surrounded by our Cree culture and raised in ceremony with pride and not shame. Just as settlers need to move out of the guilt it’s just as important that my Nehiyaw (Cree) people need to move out of the shame.

By starting to tell my story, the healing can begin. In the words of Justice Murray Sinclair, “We have described for you a mountain. We have shown you the path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing.” So let’s get to climbing!

On Wednesday, June 20th, I walked and ran a 33km (and traveled a total 50km) stretch of highway that has more meaning than any other for me and my family. And yes, it was hot — 30 degrees Celsius hot. But the heat and the distance weren’t the difficult parts to push through. This specific stretch of highway marked the path from kokum’s (my grandma’s) home and ended at Blue Quills.

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My son, me, and the community on our journey.

I knew that I could get through the miles because I was walking for the ones who never made it home to their moms and dads. The pain of what Residential school survivors endured is nothing compared to what I experienced walking this journey.

For me Wednesday, June 20 was a day to continue my climb— but I see this journey as being greater than me alone — and given the support that I’ve seen for reconciliation efforts here within this campus community , I know that my own healing journey will continue along side and in partnership with the healing journeys of those who are here and who have shared their love, courage, and willingness to keep on our shared journey. By showing support on days of remembrance, like Orange Shirt Day, and by looking for opportunities to celebrate and learn, like National Indigenous Peoples Day, and by sharing our stories — our students, our faculty, our staff have all shown a willingness to CLIMB this mountain together!

I am not simply Shana from Kehewin on this journey, I am the sum of many parts — one of which is a mom, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, an auntie, a friend, an iskwew (woman), an alumna, a current student, and an employee of the U of A! I am NOT alone, as I know who walks beside me.

Love is an act of courage — Love is a healing force — Love is an act of Reconciliation

My journey is about solidarity; together we can transform the narrative and can create a new normal without cultural biases or barriers. Let’s continue this journey together.

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Shana Dion — Assistant Dean (First Nations, Métis and Inuit Students), Office of the Dean of Students

Tânisi osâwâw acâhkos nehiyaw iskwew niya Kehewin Cree Nation ochi niya. Hello, my spirit name is ‘yellow star’, and I am a Cree woman from Kehewin Cree Nation. It is important that I introduced myself in Cree because it grounds me in who I am, where I come from and who I am accountable to. I am truly humbled and thankful for this opportunity to be present for the First Nation, Métis and Inuit students while they are on their academic journey at the University of Alberta. As the Assistant Dean (First Nations, Métis and Inuit Students), my responsibilities are deeply-rooted in a holistic way of being with balance in all things while on your journey through life.