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How becoming a mother helped me discover what it means to me to be Mi’kmaw

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How becoming a mother helped me discover what it means to me to be Mi’kmaw

When I learned I was pregnant with my son, I started asking myself, “What does it mean to be an Mi’kmaw mother?”

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Alisha Knockwood says when she learned she was pregnant with her son Simon she began to mirror on what it means to be a Mi’kmaw mother. (Submitted by Alisha Knockwood)

This First Individual article is the experience of Alisha Knockwood, a member of the Abegweit First Nation in P.E.I. For extra information about CBC’s First Individual stories, please survey the FAQ.

When I learned I was pregnant with my son, I started asking myself, “What does it mean to be a Mi’kmaw mother?”

It is a hard query to answer if you happen to enact no longer know what it means to be Mi’kmaw, let alone a Mi’kmaw mother. That is after I started to stare back on my life dwelling on a reserve.

Growing up I by no means saw myself as any various from my pals or folks I had viewed on the road. For a long time, I believed that all individuals went to mawiomis/powwows and lived in communities alongside their families.

I am learning alongside my son so that he may survey that he can embrace his culture and no longer be afraid as I as soon as was.— Alisha Knockwood

It was no longer unless I was in elementary college, approximately Grade 4, that I realized that it was no longer “normal” to dwell in a community with your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Of us did now not catch together each summer to drum, articulate and dance in regalia. 

Alisha Knockwood said rising up she did now not really understand what it meant to be Mi’kmaw. When she discovered she was pregnant, she made up our minds to change that. 2: 25

Understanding what it means to be Mi’kmaw

It took me a long time to understand exactly what it meant to be Indigenous, the appropriate and bad. I remember being called Native, First Nations, Mi’kmaw, Indian and a few other words that were extremely prejudiced and hurtful.

Many of us were taught to maintain our heads down so as no longer to bring attention to ourselves. We were afraid of what folks would say or enact to us within the event that they knew we were Mi’kmaw. 

Alisha Knockwood with her son Simon. Knockwood says rising up she knew she was Mi’kmaw, however she did now not know exactly what that meant. (Submitted by Alisha Knockwood)

All by my college years it was evident that my cousins and myself were various from all individuals else.

Many folks would avoid us, making us even extra reluctant to embrace our traditions. 

All by college we learned fully a minuscule amount of information about Indigenous Peoples and what a reserve is.

There was by no means information about how many various nations there are, residential colleges, traditional ceremonies, regalia or language.

Fear of teaching traditions

I was by no means taught our language, or what it meant to practise our traditions.

Ceremonies were by no means explained to the youthful generations as many of the elders within the community had been in residential colleges.

Knockwood’s father learned to prepare dinner from his mother, which he’s now passing on to her son Simon. Here he’s teaching Simon how to make bannock. (Submitted by Alisha Knockwood)

Some elders were able to take back many of their traditions and language however feared teaching it to their teenagers or grandchildren.

My grandfathers were in residential colleges and did now not teach my parents out of fear for being punished or that they’d be do into residential colleges too.

Taking back my culture and identity

When I became a mom, I realized how a lot I was lacking from my possess culture and identity that I essential to take back.

I may perhaps no longer ever be able to pass on traditions if I enact no longer learn them for myself. It is my responsibility to learn and teach my baby about our heritage.

Knockwood and her son are now learning the Mi’kmaw language and traditions together. (Submitted by Alisha Knockwood)

As I have been having a stare into it extra and extra, it is terribly outstanding how a lot was lost. As a Mi’kmaw mother I need to take back what was taken from us and teach it to my baby so that we enact no longer lose it again.

I am learning my language alongside my son; it brings me a lot pleasure after I hear him speak Mi’kmaw. My son attends daycare within our community the place he also learns how to speak Mi’kmaw. 

My son isn’t very any longer going to be afraid as I as soon as was

We may have a long way to slither in our learning, however I may perhaps no longer ever hand over asking my elders for assist. It was my grandfather Roddy Gould, a survivor of residential college, who taught me how and why we smudge, and how to pray.

He taught me that it was OK to embrace our traditions, and to always ask questions after I did now not understand why a certain ceremony or prayer was performed. 

Knockwood says she peaceful has a lot to learn however she is learning to embrace her culture so her son can as successfully. (Submitted by Alisha Knockwood)

I have begun to learn about drumming and that each tune has a deeper meaning for various occasions or ceremonies. My father has been singing traditional songs to my son since he was a new child, and he has allowed my son to drum with him on a few occasions for powwows. 

I am learning alongside my son so that he may survey that he can embrace his culture and no longer be afraid as I as soon as was. I peaceful have a lot to learn about our heritage, history, ceremonies, regalia and a lot extra, however I am excited to understand and learn about it all. 

My mosey as a Mi’kmaw mother is steady beginning.

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How becoming a mother helped me discover what it means to me to be Mi’kmaw