December 3, 2017: Ancestral Care & Memory
Today, we came together as a family to celebrate my parents’ 45 years of marriage. The actual anniversary was yesterday, but today we found time to get together. I think of the care work and love it takes to maintain a relationship of 45 years. As we were celebrating, we also spent significant time revelling in the accomplishments of one of my many uncles, and I couldn’t help but think of the unrecognized and under-appreciated labours that had been contributed to all of his community building by my auntie — in fact more than one. His wife, for sure. His sisters. His sister-in-laws. Tonight made me think deeply about the work of many of my aunties, who won’t be recognized with awards. No schools will be name for them. No hospitals. Their contributions will have have shaped the lives of their children, their families and their friends. But, they will be erased by time. Nurses, teachers, farm women, mothers, daughters, daughter-in-laws, sister-in-laws — building community through their own feminized labour, their love, their networks of relations. Making family happen. Raising kids. Doing homework. Tending their gardens. Making celebrations of life happen. Perpetuating culture. Caring for the sick and dying, whether it be in English or Cree, or through a language of care that exceeds verbal expression. Instilling values. Where would we be without all these women, that made the public lives and accomplishments of their husbands possible? I love the men we celebrate. But, I deeply love and admire the women that made it all possible and I cringe at the thought that history erases them. What do we do, in every day ways, to remember, record and archive their contributions? What can I do, I wonder? With a camera? With my words? With their stories as they bleed into my own and I tell them — even when they are too modest to tell their own stories, or even when they are no longer here to share with us what it is that they have contributed?
This too, is deep energy literacy. Understanding the networks of relations that make our lives possible. That sustain community. The women’s work, feminine energy and feminist strength that define us all.
(Image: Sourced from Pexels — Photo of grandparents with children.)