I don’t think that I have been more nervous about sending a story off for approval than the one I sent to Chief Andrea Paul a few weeks ago. When I connected with Chief Paul earlier this fall I told her I wanted to chat with her about traditional Mi’kmaq traditions associated with the Christmas Holiday. When we met at the Pictou Landing Band office we were only a few minutes into our conversation when I knew that the story had taken on a new life. For the next hour and for several more hours the next time we connected, Andrea shared details of her life that often left me speechless and at times in tears. In those moments, my emotions would vacillate from anger and dismay to awe and inspiration. We all know… or think that we know the story of the aboriginal people in our communities but until you really get a chance to stop and listen, most of us really understand little. There are aspects of her story that can cut across any culture. Abuse and racism exist everywhere. But this story has the underpinnings of generations of people who have been undervalued, misunderstood and marginalized.
Chief Paul shared details of her childhood and adolescence that I chose not to disclose in this story. This isn’t a story about despair this is a story about resilience, truth and reconciliation. Sometimes in journalism you have to realize that it is not always your story to tell and Chief Paul is just beginning to reveal hers.
I feel truly honoured to have to opportunity to write Her Greatest Gifts for our holiday issue. Chief Paul reminds us that we don’t have to be defined by the moments that we have felt powerless and alone and that Christmas is the time for forgiveness and sharing your joy with the people who still surround you.
There is a whole lot of happy on the pages of this issue and I think you will see it for yourself as you flip through the different sections where we celebrate the passing down of family recipes to the fun-loving, merry décor of a house in Tatamagouche that puts the Ho-Ho-Ho in Holidays. There’s even advice on how to turn that frown upside down if the winter blues should come your way and a little DIY project to nourish your joy of giving as you start counting down the days to Christmas.
When you are giving and receiving this Christmas think about your own greatest gifts and celebrate what you bring to the world.
Wishing you joy, love and laughter during this holiday season.