Redefining Home: Connection, Place, and Belonging.

I often feel inconsolably lonely this time of year: for friends, for family, for a romantic partner.  It’s around this time, when the rain starts and all the leaves have fallen that I feel a deep disconnectedness within myself.  I think other people feel this too. There’s something about the constant grays that begin to wear away at the very centre of you.  I can feel my core yearning for sunshine, for my home, for anything to make this feeling dissipate.  There’s something about this city that can feel entirely suffocating during the darker months.  When I’m stuck in this rut, I often blame the city as an entity for this feeling.  I lament and romanticize returning home to the North, thinking that this is the cure.  I romanticize what land means, what land is, what my connection to the land can be.  But, rarely, have I ever stopped to think: where I am, this city, is “the land”.

Vancouver is still Indigenous land.  For thousands of years before this city’s conception, people of this land have lived through these gloomy months: have lived and loved through this rain.  This has me thinking, that my perception of this land, what is land, and my relationship to the land needs to shift.  I need to remember that every step I take down a cement sidewalk on a street hugged by Vancouver Specials I am stepping on sacred lands, and I need to step softly.  We need to remember that Ancestors and love exist even when transplanted trees and fake grass do.  All in all, the entirety of this has made me remember the importance of connection.

Often I talk of, and have heard others talk of, our connections to the land and our relationship to the land.  I have been contemplating what this looks like in practice: especially for a displaced Metis such as myself.  How do we, the transplanted and dispossessed Indigenous folks in this city, respect and create a relationship to this place that our blood and bones do not come from?  Obviously, we need to respect this land in the same way we would be respectful guests in someone’s house (even if we are the uninvited).  More so, I think we can cultivate a relationship with place by cultivating healthy and beautiful relationships with each other.  We are products of the places we come from, physically and spiritually.  We are products of the land.  When we create healthy, loving, and respectful relationships with each other, we are creating healthy and loving relationships with the land.  We are not a separate entity, but instead, a shared being.  The act of loving each other is an act of loving land.

In the months where it’s too much, where the rain is a drowning force, it’s important to remain grounded in the fact that even within isolation we are connected to each other.  I find comfort, even in my most vulnerable and depressed states, in knowing that I am connected to home through the relationships I build and the community that welcomes me.  We can’t make houses out of humans and put the pressure on others to be our foundations, but we can construct homes with people; and sometimes, that needs to be enough.


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