Following Your Dreams:
By: Christine McFarlane
Aanii. Christine nitishinaakaas. Peguis nitoonci. I was a part of the 60’s and 70’s Scoop where many First Nations youth experienced disconnection and removal from their families, communities and culture. As a result of this I grew up without knowing my culture or having a sense of identity as to what I could do or become. I was often told that I would never amount to anything or be successful. A self destructive journey that I began slowly turned around when I encountered certain individuals in my life, who told me “they knew that I could overcome the obstacles in front of me.”
I could have become another statistic that we so often see with many of our First Nations youth who grew up under these same circumstances, but I learned with encouragement from others and perseverance that if I followed the dreams I had always wanted, I could walk a different path. Though following my dreams came later in life to me than it may have for others, it has still happened. I returned to post secondary education, became a freelance writer and embarked on a personal journey that led me to finally learning who I am as a First Nations woman. I have learned to embrace the culture, traditions and language of my people, once lost to me.
When you are a child who is essentially ripped away from your heritage and culture, it is easy to question who or what you may become later in life. I had fanciful dreams of being rich and famous, thoughts of wondering how I could overcome the battles I was fighting within and even wondered if I would survive long enough to see any success in my life. It remains hard for me to believe that a mere few years ago-I could not see anything beyond my very own existence. My eyes are now open, I take in the world around me and I thirst to know more about everything and what I can do to make a difference. The knowledge I seek has become universal.
My journey has not been easy, but I now know no one’s journey in life is easy and there are many ups and downs. It is like a rollercoaster ride. One day we can be at the top of the Ferris wheel and the next, we can feel like we are at the bottom. Through many rollercoaster rides we learn how to handle each situation as it comes our way, and as we master each ride, our confidence and self esteem grows.
In following our dreams, whatever they may be, it is important to surround ourselves with people who help us to see the best in ourselves, and who will encourage us no matter what we may be going through- that WE do matter, and that we can make it. Finding out what we want to do can be hard, but when we learn what our gift is, the rewards of doing something you love can be immensely gratifying. Perseverance has helped me to follow my dreams. I have become a writer, I have graduated with my bachelors degree at the University of Toronto and most of all, I have a sense of focus that I never had before. It is that new sense of focus that helps me to keep looking forward. Chi miigwetch to those who helped me realize that not only can I gaze at the stars in wonder and reach for them, I can make my dreams a reality. Opening my own eyes has helped more than you will ever know.
(Coming Soon-This piece has been accepted for publication with the Ministry of the Attorney General)