Indigenous Culture

Dear Indigenous Student

This letter is for any Indigenous student out there, whether you are in school, want to be in school or about to be in school- please read this. This is not meant to put anyone else down, but I hope this will empower, inspire and bring not only Indigenous students but everyone together as one.

Dear Indigenous student,

I am so proud of you. I am so inspired by you. I am so thankful for you.

No really, I am.

You see, I started taking a First Nations studies class this semester and during every class I sit and listen to, the thoughts run wild through my mind. I am surrounded by students of many cultures who are here to get the ‘perfect’ grade, the ‘perfect’ attendance, and the ‘perfect’ life. So they sit still; because this hasn’t happened to them. They aren’t living this reality every day. They feel empathy but they don’t feel the fear that we do. And every class I hear the statistics being burned into my mind and pushed down my throat. As if I haven’t heard them all before while taking these notes. The highest drop-out and suicide rates. “Alcoholism just runs in their blood” you will hear them say.

Suicide rates among First Nation youth are at five to seven times higher!

A First Nation youth is more likely to end up in jail than to run up societies acceptable ladder, (graduate high school).

Indigenous women- 6% of the province’s population – yet 60% are missing and you won’t see a single hand raised.

But do you know what? Aside from being done with this negativity, these statistics don’t matter to me. Because the only thing that matters to me in this whole world is YOU. YOU are not just another statistic, another flaw in the system, another person that should be wiped out of existence. YOU are my inspiration. You are my motivation. YOU are the foundation of this nation. YOU are strong, and YOU remind me to wake up every day and prove to the world that they are wrong. YOU are stronger because of these stereotypes, because only WE, as Indigenous people would be able to see them and keep pushing on. And you know what? You can do this. You know why? Because we survive, we thrive, we adapt and we breakthrough. We get knocked down and we get back up again. We have been tried, ‘colonized’, ‘oppressed’ and deprived. ‘stereotyped’, ‘neglected’, pushed aside. We have faced a cultural genocide where people literally tried to eliminate our pride, but you know what- we are still here. Which is living proof that while near, you are strong and will keep being here too.

You remind me every day how beautiful we are. How stunning of a culture we continue to be. How powerful of a force we are to be seen. You are here for a reason and whether you believe it or not, you keep me alive in a world where others wish I was not. You are loved. You are cherished. You are brilliant- resilient. You are not an accident you are a world changer. You are not a coincidence, you serve a purpose. You prove this just by being here. Just by being alive you are beating another statistic with me, just by being in school, you are beating another one. So please, stay in this fight with me. Stay strong, and stay proud. Keep inspiring me. I can’t do it without you. Because soon, after all this is over, we won’t just be seen as another statistic anymore. We will be seen.

I am so proud of you. I am so inspired by you. I am so thankful for you.

And I promise – I will not sit still.Image result for cbc grace swain

Image result for rise above

A picture of me at my high school graduationImage result for cbc grace swain

A picture of my acceptance letter into Western University

How will you rise above? Leave a comment below!

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