I’ve learned

How to not be afraid of the dark

 

That to speak in our mother tongue is to speak among ancestors

 

That a language is connected to the land and loss of language is a loss of roots to those lands  

 

That language can connect us but also be used against us

 

That as much as we have gained from the English language, it has taken so much from us  

 

That English is not ancient

 

That a few syllables of our mother tongue shared outside the home is precious

 

That my roots as a first-generation Chinese diasporic settler are not deep

 

That my roots are rhizomatic and so lead me on how to be on this land

 

That poetry is healing and a way to talk to the land, to ancestors, and even to each other  

 

That a land acknowledgment is a way to get directions  

 

That a land acknowledgment for a settler is also a way to get lost

 

That a land acknowledgment is particularly complicated in a virtual setting

 

That a land acknowledgement is not a replacement for a relationship or an act of reciprocity

 

That a land acknowledge does not mean much if there is no intention for land back

 

That prior to Fort Calgary, the land of Mohkinstsis was sacred and where the Tsuut’ina nation often camped

 

That that land is still sacred

 

That Mohkinstsis means Elbow in Blackfoot and refers to the river

 

That the river and land are sisters.

 

That challenging the commemoration of white faces in Chinatown is a six-year project that will lead to a lifetime commitment. [1]  

 

That Chinatown could have been the marketplace for the Tsuut’ina people when they came to the city

 

That it takes exceptional courage to move slow, be tender, and kind to yourself as much as to others because the way of everyday colonization will try its best to rob us of that way or life

 

That there is no turtle without a tail

 

That our mental health is intrinsically connected to our cultural history on colonized land

 

That all the trees in the city are male

 

That there are not enough safe spaces

 

That money is often meaningless.

 

That a lifetime of volunteering will lead you to a lifetime of friendships

 

That it takes generations of making friends to create safe spaces for the future

 

That a 2 spirited way of life is organic and needs to be fostered by the community with the strength and love of a mother

 

That sometimes witnessing the strength of others is enough to affirm it

 

That we each have our own dance

 

That it takes years to tell a story

 

That a story is full of knowledge

 

That a life can be given to telling stories

 

That we don’t always have to connect on similarities but can come together to witness our differences

 

That there is a willingness to share as much as to listen

 

That so much of our joy comes from sharing.

The video clip is of Annie's apartment and the view beyond her computer screen during the workshops on zoom.

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