The complexities of naming is what we started with this week. I had never realized how important language really is to ones identity. It is easy for one to ignore something if it does not affect them personally. Learning that people do care about the language I use, requires me to have courage to even ask an individual. It is not a one size fits all. Some individuals may prefer to be called a broad term of First Nations, while another individual would rather be referred to as specific as a Lakota or Cree individual. Always keeping in mind that for so long, these names were stripped away from the first peoples of this land, and the complexity of it is understanding why it is so important today. To have courageous conversations with the people I meet to find out how they want to be named.
When I heard about the pipe ceremony, I was a bit nervous. I went into it not really knowing what to expect. Except that I had to wear a skirt. I did not own any skirts. So I e-mailed Sheena and asked that if I did not own a skirt, what would be the more respectful second option. I believe there is wisdom is actually making the effort to take part in this ceremony despite the fact I did not own a skirt. When Sheena e-mailed me back and said I could use a blanket to wrap around, I felt a sense of relief.
As a single mom and university student, I don’t have a lot of money. So although Sheena said I could use a blanket, I really wanted to make the best effort I could to take part in the ceremony as appropriately and as authentically as possible. I was able to find 5$ and I quickly searched the internet to find a used skirt. And I did. For exactly 5$. It felt good to be a part of the ceremony, and going into it with eagerness to learn and give it my best attention. I think I can also see it as a form of reciprocity, because I used the only money I had left, to engage in the pipe ceremony sincerely and humbly.