Sunday, February 6, 2011

Into The Light. Rekindling A Dying Flame by Jason Charlie

This is an article written by Jason Charlie who is a member of the People Of The River Clan in the far north of Canada in the Yukon Territory.  I have copied it from Michael Brine's, Beyond The Box Essays.  I have permission from Michael to copy any of his writings to share on my blog.  I have had contact with Jason via the internet and have found him to be a very pleasant and respectful young man and apparently one with a gift for expressing himself in the written word.

"Happy New Year", as we move into another new year - 2010. What follows first are not my words but the words of a First Nations student at Yukon Collage - Jason Charlie - on an issue I feel strongly about.  It concerns the sad and shameful residential school issue that he wrote for his English teacher but also choose to share with me. He has given me permission to use it here. Here it is:

''Into the Light. Rekindling a Dying Flame'

When I see this young boy chipping away at this huge rock, I ask, "What are you doing?" Every time he hits the rock, a tiny particle of light beams out chasing away the darkness. A light full of love and warmth, so pure and innocent and blessed by Creator. "The stone spoke to me", he says. "What does it say?", I ask. He replies, "It tells me to be patient and that someday we will meet." Because that is the real me in the stone, I am that boy starting on my healing path - simply chipping away all that is negative.

Awhile back, I was doing research on the residential school and the impact it had on my mother. The school's intent, by brainwashing, was to kill the "Indian Spirit". I did not understand what that meant. My mother did not talk about the school, so all I heard was other people's stories about their identity theft. The children were lost and alienated. Now I knew why, at times, I would find my mother alone, crying. They were made to feel ashamed of who they are as a distinct people. I came to understand how the negative conditioning of her mind affected how she lived; therefore, it opened my eyes to the way my life should be lived.

When I was writing, I was also looking at my own reflection. I did not know who I was as a human being. So, I was excited about coming to this point of origin. I asked myself, "What is an Indian?" "What do they do?" and "Why am I here?" These questions gave me a new direction to explore. A lot of memories, came flooding back - memories of listening to wise Elders, former teachers, and people who stuck by me. People who try to help by giving sound advice. They often spoke about respect and getting along. Because I was an angry person - full of resentment, I usually shrugged their guidance off. Their wise words took me sometime to absorb and sort out. It came to me that being Native is bigger than anyone person. The culture was their way of life. The values, beliefs, ceremonies, and language are what made them a unique people. The Indian way of living made me take a good look at my life.

When I read and listened to how people lived in that era, I felt pride. Finally, I had a sense of where my blood came from, and I was from a part of something good. I did not speak my language or know any ceremonies. What I did know was the way they maneuvered as a unit and took care of each other. I saw their values and strong communal bond woven into daily life. Their relationship to the land taught them respect and moderation. This gave me a choice of making my life heaven or hell. I decided that I wanted my soul to breath, to shine. It is what Creator wants, so I looked at ways of integrating those values [sharing, kindness, generosity, and respect] into my life. Inside, I had to quit running and deal with my emotions, so I could have a chance at inner-peace.

When I listened to Elders, they always told me pray and ask for help. Narrow minded as I was, and thinking the world revolved around me, I shrugged it off, asking, "Why?." I did not care or believe in anything. So, I looked at my people's ceremony and belief system and why they were taken away. In their daily routine, the people gave thanks and showed gratitude through ceremony. They prayed for divine guidance to live a balanced life. The ceremonies empowered them in who they are as a people - keeping them connected to all that is alive. They helped by listening or kind words, because they knew that all life is an integral part of creation. Now I know the power of prayer. When I awake, I give thanks for another beautiful day. I am grateful to the people who helped get me here, and for seeing that light.

When I came into this world, I was a flaming ball of light. Then, as I got older, I picked up other people's negative attitude. That way of life slowly smothered my fiery flame. Young and native as I was, I did not know I was chosen for this life. My spirit meant no harm. All things happen for a reason. I have to ascertain the reason, and continue on my healing journey. I am okay, because one day I will meet the man in the stone. To rekindle my dying flame, I have to keep chipping away those things that are not innate and do not belong to me."

Here is the link to the orginal essay in it's entirety from Micheal Brine's, Beyond the Box site:


Sharon said...

A great article. I really enjoyed reading this...

Stranger in a Strange Land said...

Glad that you liked it Sharon.