Being an independent consultant is a challenging business indeed. One must be always promoting oneself, marketing, seeking new opportunities and constantly honing the skills. On top of that, i am also involved with community on a number of levels as a veteran, as a carrier of ceremony and as someone who others perceive as having good connections and knowledge about a thing or two. I am rarely doing only one thing at a time. While each day will usually have a specific focus, in the midst of that i am usually also responding to emails, answering calls and catching up on paperwork. The week around Remembrance Day is always busy for me, lots to do in all those directions! This year was no different and yet it was. Here is my calendar from last week.
Monday 06 Nov:
I always try to take Mondays slow since the week tends to devolve fairly quickly after that. However, I began the week with a lovely conversation with my friend Cara Jones, being interviewed for her great podcast series... you can check her website out here! What i love about doing something like this is the opportunity to learn more about myself by answering questions. Sometimes it is helpful to hear yourself speak your own truth. This will (hopefully) be a great opportunity for exposure and i hope to do some more interviews with her in the future. Perhaps it might even lead to my own podcast... stay tuned!
Tuesday 07 Nov:
Tuesday was a fairly quiet day spent organising my garage for the winter season. Storing the summer stuff, hauling out the winter stuff and trying to figure out how to get two cars and a tractor in the garage with everything else in there. The highlight of the day was attending Taekwon Do to do some teaching and to receive my 3rd Dan Black Belt after many years of training and a 5.5 hour test a few weeks ago! It feels like a pretty good accomplishment for my 50-something self! Doing Taekwon do under tutelage of the fine gentleman who is congratulating me for my new rank has been life-changing for me! I never realised i could push past my own limitations. Martial Arts has taught me that my biggest barrier is myself, but that i have the power to overcome even that barrier!
Wednesday 08 Nov:
I spent the early part of the day at an veterans appreciation event at Billings Bridge mall where i helped at an exhibition booth to answer questions about Indigenous vets for elementary school students and the general public. There was also a wee ceremony and parade where i carried the Eagle Staff on behalf of our veteran's group. It is always an honour to spend time with other vets and to learn from them. The ladies in the picture with me are all WWII vets and it is a pleasure to see them every year!
The second half of the day was presenting at Ottawa University in a seminar on research methodology. I was co-presenting with a wonderful colleague about Indigenous community-based research and experiential learning. It was amazing to me how quickly the 3 hours flew by! The feedback we received from the professor and the students was nice to hear. Here is a sample of some of their kind words.
'Thank you for today. Sharp and Tracey were absolutely amazing. They really helped me understand Indigenous knowledge and feminist research in a deeper way.'
A couple months ago, my friend Lyndon called me and asked if i had heard about a young man named Hasan Syed. He went on to explain that this young immigrant to Canada had, upon learning that not everyone in Canada has access to clean water, decided to do a run to draw attention to the need for clean water in First Nations communities. I was asked to organise a welcome for him as he completed his run/walk to Ottawa from Vancouver so that he would know that the Indigenous community appreciated his act of allyship. So, i began, getting the permit for access to Parliament Hill, gathering community members and trying (mostly with no results) to get politicians to take part in the event. The exception to those politicians was our mayor Jim Watson, whose office responded promptly and who showed up and shared good words. Thursday was the culmination of all that work, so off we went in the cold to welcome this young man. We had a good turnout and despite my reluctance, i was the MC for the event. We then followed that up with a feast hosted by the Odawa Friendship Centre and the Legal Aid Clinic of Ottawa. It was truly a great example of community coming together to make something good happen.
Friday 10 Nov:
This day was all about my life in ceremony. One of my Elders has asked me to help with Cedar Bath ceremonies to assist community members to heal from the pain they are carrying. My role is to Help in whatever way is needed, preparing for the ceremony, singing songs that help the people and the conductor of the ceremony along the process. It is my honour to assist with this in the small way i can but it usually takes most of the day and can be very tiring. I love the work and the opportunity to learn more about ceremony. I continue to be amazed and humbled at what has come to me. Ceremony grounds me and heals me even as i am helping others. Being able to share ceremony with others brings light to my life in so many ways.
Remembrance Day meant being downtown for 0830 to prepare for the ceremony at the Indigenous Veteran's memorial. I have been attending ceremony there on Nov 11 since the beginning of construction of the monument. As the carrier of our Veteran's Eagle Staff, i have a number of responsibilities for the ceremony that day. Despite forgetting some of the things i needed to have with me, it was a good ceremony lead by Indigenous veterans and done in a very welcoming way. It is always great to see the gathering grow each year! Then we make our way to where the other veterans are gathering for the main parade, sometimes needing to elbow our way through the crowd to get to where we need to be. Oh my god it was cold! However, it is an honour to march with those who gave so much and to help community to never forget that sacrifice. One of the best parts of the day is the lunch served by the staff at the Chateau Laurier to veterans and their families as a thank you. That helped me thaw out just a little! Most of the day is consumed with the ceremonies and connecting with other vets. The day is exhausting, but the connections and good feelings that go along with it provide balance.
Sunday 12 Nov:
Thank gods that Sunday was a day to just be at home and relax... to listen to the birds singing in the sun and enjoy the healing and rejuvenation possible with Mother Earth. It gave me time to reflect upon my busy week, to count my blessings. I have good enough health to do the many things that i do. I have a supportive spouse and a wonderful network of friends and colleagues who also support my work. I have a beautiful home which gives me the space to rejuvenate. Busy days, many opportunities to learn equals one blessed life!