TSF 2021: Visual Arts Exhibition

Artwork by Shayla Elizabeth

Wahkohtowin: Everything/Everyone is Connected

On my Healing Journey, one of the traumas I was diagnosed with is Historical trauma, as I was a cross-cultural half-Cree, half-white adoptee, “the  60’s Scoop”, the Stolen Generation. But I am now repatriated, learning my Iniwé/Cree here in Winnipeg, MB. Treaty 1, where I have been since the fall of 1997, since moving from BC.


My birth-mother was from Pimicikamak (Cross Lake, MB) but I was born in Edmonton, adopted at three months of age to Dutch-Canadian parents in Calgary, then moved to Penticton, BC when I was 2. It is between two lakes, Skaha and Okanagan, surrounded by the gentle curves (say, as opposed to the peaks of the Rockies) of the Monashee mountains, a breath-taking beautiful land that I still miss. You can take the girl out of the mountains, but you can’t take the mountain out of the girl.


The UN Report on Climate Change came out in the last few weeks, and the wildfires starting earlier in the season, mega-droughts, increased storm strength of hurricanes and typhoons causing more flooding, can all be attributed to human-altered climate, through the rapacious resource-extraction on Indigenous lands, for things we don’t need and throw away. Mother Earth is not happy.


The more I learn about my People, the more I am impressed at how they lived pre-Contact, in tune with the environment. A couple of months ago, I heard a BC Elder in a David Suzuki org. Zoom call, say “10 000 years is science.”


But there is still just a little time to mitigate climate change, and it is right now. 


As a mixed-blood, I see myself as a bridge person, bridging two worldviews, and I try to reflect that in my poetry and Spoken Word. So on that note, I will offer a follow-up to my piece on orcas from my Spoken Word. 


The Elders say when presenting a problem, there should be solutions as well: https://www.portvancouver.com/about-us/stories/collaborative-action-for-quieter-oceans/


Shayla Elizabeth, 2021