Little Drum

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Archive for the tag “First Nations”

Class #2

June 23, 2013

Today’s class was an early Sunday morning hot yoga class at Moksha here in Victoria, BC. I arrived early and had about 15 minutes on my mat before class started. It was a fantastic opportunity to totally let myself unwind and when class started I felt like I had just woken up again. It was an intense workout and my trembling legs and arms regularly reminded me of how long I’ve been away from my mat, the long bike ride I had with my son yesterday. I was also reminded of how much I love the feeling of sweat dripping off my nose and how beautiful my skin looks in the glow of enhanced blood flow and prespiration.

Near the end of class, we were asked to pause and take a moment to notice what we might be seeing or what we want to see through new eyes. I realized that it had been a long time since I paused and looked around at how truly blessed my life was…and that it was time to look at my life with new eyes.

In the busyness of raising twins, running my own business and preparing for the launch of my new book, my life is full and I have not been pausing and reflecting as often as I would like to be. Part of the reasoning for this commitment and blog. What I have come to know is that when I do not pause, reflect and offer gratitude, I get grumpy, less flexible and less open to receiving opportunities.

Today I decided to see my life through new eyes. To take time and reflect on how extraordinarily blessed I am. Blessed to be healthy, in a loving relationship, mother to healthy and beautiful twins, blessed that both my parents and my sister are alive and healthy, blessed… oh how I could go on and on. Choosing to focus on gratitude and speaking kind words of gratitude help define me. Tonight as I lay in bed, I will close my eyes and say a prayer of thanks for oh so much!

I left class remembering that I have a responsibility to those who have gone before me and those who are yet to come, but I can choose how I honour that responsibility. I see this responsibility today through new eyes.

I encourage you to consider what or who you might want to see through new eyes.






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Resiliency: an Indigenous perpsective

Human resiliency is like a willow tree branch.  It can bend to make the ribs of a sweat lodge or bend to create a full circle to create a dream catcher.  When we bend that willow tree branch and then release it, it bounces back to almost it’s original shape, but not quite.  It is changed forever. We as humans are the same. When life deals us challenging times, we bend like that willow tree branch and are changed forever.


Indigenous worldviews and the importance we place on relationships naturally compliments fostering resiliency in children. Resiliency requires a concentrated focus on positive and nurturing relationships with family, caregivers and community members. It also requires a focus on fostering relationships with all aspects of the child’s world.

It is through these relationships that children will develop and strengthen their sense of self and security in their world, thus strengthening their resiliency and ability to adapt, grow and change throughout childhood and the rest of their lives.

To learn more check out new educational resource: The Ripple Effect of Resiliency: Strategies for Fostering Resiliency with Indigenous Children.

Prologue for Hope, Faith & Empathy

This is the intro to my new book Hope, Faith & Empathy. To purchase go on line at



Hope, Faith & Empathy will take you on a journey, a journey that is loosely based on my life’s story as an Indigenous woman, of individuals who showed up at a pivotal time in my life to guide and teach me and of characters who came to me as I wrote. These characters I believe are gifts from the Ancestors.

Hope, Faith & Empathy includes parts of our collective Indigenous history, and I am hopeful that readers will have a greater sense of the history and how it ripples into the current circumstances facing our people. The mere fact that Indigenous peoples exist in Canada is a miracle unto itself. The fact that we are thriving in the multitude of ways that we are is pure inspiration.

I offer much gratitude to you for sharing your time in reading this book and sincerely hope that you find whatever you may be seeking as you join Tilly on her journey and meet the characters that come into her life.

It is my hope that while reading you will encounter yourself, your strength and your own resiliency. Perhaps, even just a little, you will have a greater sense of hope…for whatever your dreams, ambitions and heart’s desires may be.

Hope, Faith & Empathy excerpt: Grandma Tilly

Grandma Tilly

We never knew exactly when she would arrive. As she used to say, “When the spirit moves me I get in my car, fill up the tank and start driv’n.”
By herself, she would drive from Saskatchewan to wherever we were living at the time. It was like the moment her car pulled up, a spell was cast over our family. A spell of wonderment, excitement and joy. Sometimes it felt like I lived for Grandma Tilly’s visits.

Each morning I would awake full of anticipation, as I knew a day of adventure awaited me. She taught me how to hook a worm on my fishing rod, how to snare a rabbit, how to hold a baseball bat, how to load a pipe with tobacco so that it would be easy to smoke but not burn the tobacco too fast, and how to stitch the hem on my pants. When I think back, though, perhaps it wasn’t the things I learned to do from Grandma Tilly that have impacted my life the most. Instead it was what I learned from how she lived her life. I learned the importance of keeping our word to people, about telling the truth and always, treating people with dignity and respect—whether they deserved it or not.

Every night after dinner, we’d sit outside and she would pull out her pipe bag and load her pipe for her evening smoke. I can still smell the scent of her tobacco, different from what people smoke today. Grandma Tilly grew her own tobacco. Each winter she would start with 8 seeds; she grew 4 plants for her personal tobacco and 4 plants for use in ceremony, and to make offerings with. She started the plants in the house and would then transfer them to her garden at full moon in May. They were often the most beautiful plants in the garden, especially when they flowered. Thanksgiving Weekend was always tobacco harvesting time for Grandma Tilly and she was known to miss many a turkey dinner because she was in the barn so tenderly and methodically harvesting her tobacco plants.

“Come ‘ere little Tilly, gather under my wing and let’s talk about the day,” she’d say. I’d skootch a bit closer and she would tuck me close to her and wrap her arm around me. Although she had a gift of making everyone feel important and unique, it was these moments that I felt like the most special person in the world. Grandma Tilly and I would go over the escapades of our day and she’d ask me, “Wha’d you learn today?” and “What was the best part of your day?”

In so many ways, Grandma Tilly was ahead of her time. She was feisty, charismatic, funny, had wicked aim with a sling shot and was known to match any man shot to shot with whiskey. She was well-read and a University graduate; which for her age and especially as an Indian woman at that time, is remarkable unto itself. After she gave birth to her fourth of thirteen children, she gave up her dream of becoming a Doctor and focused on raising her family and running the family farm. She wasn’t simply full of love, kindness and joy…she was love, kindness and joy.
One night Grandma Tilly and I were sitting outside and she was having her evening pipe. “You know lil’ Tilly, I was about as old as you are now when I first started learn’n about books.”

“Really?” I asked, “Didn’t you have to go to school?”


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