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Lights in the Dark

Sara General

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Last week I had my first ever author visit to the wonderful Braemar House School, where my niece attends. I presented to the Junior and Intermediate classes (grades 5-8) on my experiences being a writer, a creator of books and an aspiring language learner. I also read aloud from one of my books. It was awesome to share about how writing has helped me connect with, learn and share about my culture and our history as Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island. It was also nice to realize that I'm really and truly living my dream of being a writer. To be able to look back and see that what I’m doing now—telling stories and starting to make comics—is something I’ve been working toward for thirty years. So yeah. It was an awesome experience and I’m grateful to have had it.  

And of course, the students themselves were nothing short of amazing. I’m always so impressed with young people, the questions they ask and their incredible capacity for compassion, understanding and imagination. They are lights in the dark. Being around young people is also an important reminder that the land and water is something we borrow from future generations and that we should be mindful of how the decisions we make today can impact their well-being now and for years to come. 

It made me realize that I want young people, including my daughters, nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephew, to have hope for the future. And that means doing my part now. To help find, share and create knowledge that empowers us to have compassionate discussions, to be who we are meant to be, and to hold a respectful place in our hearts for those around us. How to do this, especially right now, is a question I’ve thought a lot about over the last few weeks. 

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve found it challenging to read the news on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve tried to bring balance to my use of social media and establish some boundaries because as much as I enjoy the break from reading so many dismal reports, I also think it’s important to be informed. So for example, I will be looking to subscribe to one or two newspapers in the very near future, to help bring more balance to my life and help feel more prepared to interact with the world for the months ahead. Right now I feel like I’m reading everything, all of the time, which is great because there are so many important perspectives, but not so great in that it also really crowds out my own sense of self—especially when there are so many terrible things happening. I want to be a force for good and to be able to encourage others. To do that, I need to have some light to share. 

So at this time, creating is so important and making time to be creative is vital. Writing, painting, playing piano. These are things I can do to transform my space and because I’m connected to the world, it will spread :). 

In the meantime, I’ll keep doing my best to be supportive and compassionate, learn our languages, learn more about our culture with my daughters and share what I can with others so I can help build positive relationships and a sense of community for us all. 

I’m also focussing on my dissertation research. Right now, this means a lot of reading and thinking and revisiting aspects of research paradigms such as ontology and epistemology. I’ve started working on a series of paintings that can help me capture those ideas in a visual way and will hopefully reinforce my learning. It’s a way of staying active with my art practice and also moving forward with the work. 

This is the first painting I'll share. It’s a picture I drew while listening to a presentation about Indigenous research methods. The speaker talked about how the land is a teacher and that it teaches us things even if we don't recognize it right away. It was a really beautiful teaching that resonated and reinforced others I've heard from elders and speakers before. 

I hope you like it! Until next time!

Happy creating!