Indigenous Motherhood: The Importance of Cultural Identity for Our Children
The first time I attended a cultural event with my daughter, the experience revealed something unexpected to me. While living in the Yukon, I heard about a large celebration being hosted in the summer and I decided I would plan a road trip with my daughter and my niece. We attended the Haa Kusteeyi Celebration in the community of Teslin. After arriving at the event and feasting on traditional food being offered to guests, we sat down to watch dance groups perform. Once the performances started, my daughter went to the front row to get a better view. She was captivated by the powerful drums, songs, and dances. This experience showed me the passion our children have for culture.
I couldn’t ignore the way I observed her take such a strong interest in traditional dancing. I began taking her to cultural events across Yukon including the Da Ku Nan Ts’etthet Dance Festival in Haines Junction, Moosehide Gathering in Dawson City, and the Adaka Cultural Festival in Whitehorse. During each event we attended, she would get as close as she could to the stage to see the dancers perform. These performances would eventually inspire her to join a youth dance group in our community. After months of practicing and preparing, the group was able to perform at the Adaka Cultural Festival. The pride and happiness in their faces when the crowd cheered for them is unforgettable.
In communities across Yukon, children have a natural connection to these cultural experiences. An Elder once explained that our traditional ways are returning through these children. Exposing them to events like these sparks a flame within them that is already there, and it has a huge impact on the people they will grow to become. This connection teaches them so many important values and strengthens their identity and most importantly, their confidence.
Raising our children to know exactly who they are and where they come from is the greatest gift we can offer them. Our hope as mothers is that our children avoid any challenges we faced due to intergenerational trauma. With the help being offered by Indigenous leaders to decolonize every aspect of our lives, Indigenous Motherhood takes a leading role in helping to rebuild strong communities.
I would like to give thanks to our mothers, grandmothers, and aunties for helping us raise strong, thoughtful children.
Crow Clan, Northern Tutchone
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