Self Love Project 4

Purple Moose Portraits Amanda“I really wanted to show case my culture as a young annishnaabe woman. I am Ojibway on my mothers side and Nlaka’pamux on my fathers side. I’ve always identified stronger with my anishnaabe ties. Its primarily due to my grandparents. They helped raised me and instill in me many strong beliefs of always respecting my elders, never taking more then I need, giving what I could, and to always be the helper.

I wanted to do this picture earlier but I came across a lot of barriers when looking for specific territorial ceremonies or dress. Colonialism took that a long time ago. My grandfather is an amazingly talented artist, hunter and speaker. He is a devote Christian and strives to only love deeper as he grows older. Systemic racism had put my grandfather through tough times from an early age from being bounced around foster homes till he was 6 years old to being forced to go to residential school. My grandpa is the picture of resiliency and grit.

My grandmother was my very first best friend, I love talking to her and just being near her. She managed to escape residential school. They RCMP came and told her grandmother (who had raised her because her own mother died in a TB sanatorium) that if they didn’t go to the school they’d be arrested so her grandmother aided in what was a crime at the time and she kept the girls away. Their lives are full of such history and reality. When I first envisioned doing a photo shoot I saw myself as a warrior, maybe have some brightly coloured jingle dress or a specific ceremony tied to this grand long story of where my people were from.

But what I got was the truth, they don’t remember that. They don’t remember any songs or ceremonies because they were taught to walk a line between two very different worlds.

Purple Moose Portraits SmudgingOne where you needed the language to communicate with your elders but don’t you dare have a “res” slur. One where you needed to still know how to hunt or fish to feed yourselves but you weren’t allowed to keep the same hunting grounds your families have known for centuries. One where you knew what medicines healed what but it’s become obsolete because of DDT and other poisons. One where you were allowed to have children but first they had to beat the indian out. My grandmother remembers gathering wild rice in her canoe with her grandmother, eating only wild game and living in a one room shack with everything they would ever need to survive at their fingertips. My grandparents will always be my biggest inspiration and without them I wouldn’t be who or where I am now.

My dear friend Vicky gave me the medicine I have and I got my shell for it by beach combing with my husband on Haida Gwaii. Smudging is probably the most common ceremony taught and held by a lot of first nations. My personal favorite is sweet grass, I was taught its actually a very feminine medicine to use and at times one of the only ones you can use a woman depending on the time of month. I’ve resolved to seek out a deeper cultural connection through those who do remember. Even if that means they’re not necessarily from my family tree. Because its important not only for me to feel that connection but to nurture that knowledge so I can pass it along to my children. I want them to be eloquent and confident enough to stand up to bigots or at the very least not let it bother them. To see past the ignorance and acknowledge the pain instead. To still love those who aren’t being very lovable because that’s what’s most important. I guess besides loving yourself.”
-Amanda

Purple Moose Portraits Alex

 

“Life has a way of going to fast and at times we forget what’s most important. I have been trying to be in the moment and stay grounded. Hard to balance everything but we can only do it a day at a time.

The smudge was an amazing experience for me and reminded me to trust myself and have faith.”
-Alex

 

 

 

Purple Moose Portraits Braiding Sweet Grass“The smudging was incredible with these two powerful mothers.  It’s great seeing them come in all glammed up and with energy and love put into ourselves. We talk of the constant struggle of balance in our busy lives while trying to find time to take care of ourselves.

But one day a month they have gifted themselves the time to come and have time for them.

 I’ve come to learn that this space for self is so important and feels like it’s sometimes the first we are willing to give up in the pursuit of “a happy life.” Becoming aware to ground ourselves with even three deep breathes I feel would help everyone so much more to be present in our pursuit and enjoy the moments of our loved ones and love our self more thoroughly”
-Jen