Writing a memoir has been a tremendous healing journey for me. Through the writing process, I had time to reflect on my experiences and this has given me the opportunity to acknowledge and let go of past hurts.
I can only hope that by sharing my story I am able to offer a sense of comfort to others, particularly Indigenous youth, who might be facing similar circumstances in their lives. Maybe they can relate to my story, feel inspired, and have courage and confidence to be themselves, positioning them towards empowerment.
It was not an easy choice to open myself up to the public. I know that there are going to be people out there who do not understand why I chose to publish the memoir. That is one of the reasons why I’m sharing it—to educate people who don’t understand what it means to be an Indigenous person in Canada. If I’ve learned anything through this journey of memoir writing, it’s that I can’t live my life worrying about what other people think. I thought it was more important to take the risk of being critiqued for sharing my story, than to not contribute to the glorious Indigenous movement that is happening all across Canada as we speak.
Publishing Indigenous voices is fundamental on so many levels. First, there is no avenue for publishing Indigenous writing coming out of the NWT. This partially explains why there are only a small number of established northern Indigenous authors. We are at such a crucial time in Canada, where the arts are being sought after and relied on for the revitalization of our culture and traditions, our lands, and our communities. Indigenous voices need to be heard now more than ever.
Without expressing our concerns through writing, speaking in our Indigenous languages, and creating masterpieces we can’t fully heal. Through these artistic endeavors we share our emotions on a level that we can all relate to and reciprocate.
As I reconnected with my love of writing, I was influenced by Richard Van Camp, Leanne Simpson, Tracey Lindberg, Lee Maracle, Cherie Dimaline, and many others. Being a part of the Indigenous writing community feels like I am wrapped in a cozy blanket sitting around a warm fire, lost in deep, meaningful conversation with the people I admire and look up to. I have a heightened awareness that I am finally right where I belong. I’m understood; I’m validated, respected, and honoured for sharing my thoughts on paper. For the first time in my life, I am where I belong, amongst my fellow Indigenous storytellers.
— Thank you to guest blogger, Catherine Lafferty, who recently launched her first book, Northern Wildflower: A Memoir.
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