Recently I was honoured with an invitation to present at the virtual conference Reflections on Death and Dying: Creating Space for end-of-life conversations.
I was nervous to address this audience and this is far from typical for me when speaking in public. How many people would sign up? Would the words I share resonate? How would I be received when I started in on systemic oppression and capitalism creating harm and trauma for people?
As the attendee count climbed past 120, and higher, my nerves began to abate. Idling at 188 participants, the organizers decided to start and began to introduce me by reading my bio. The bio is always too long and I find myself making mental notes to trim it back and before the thought can land, I am bolstered at my own history. I've survived so much and that is exactly what I am here to talk about. Indigenous people have survived so much, to enjoy this privilege of life and I'm going to begin this mostly one-sided conversation with my ancestors on my shoulder. They are guiding me in this sharing and so I take a deep breathe. I begin.
My pen name is Chrystal Waban and I am a member of the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation.