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Words of wisdom and inspiration this Indigenous People’s Day

For millennia, Indigenous traditions, knowledge and wisdom have endured, passing down through the generations despite years of colonial oppression.
This Indigenous People’s Day, BCMHSUS’ clients, patients and staff share words of inspiration from those whose wisdom has shaped their life path.
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​“There are no hopeless people, only hopeless methods.” Indigenous elder Gerry Oleman, St’at’imc Nation from Tsal’alh (Shalalth B.C.)

When it comes to healing and living harmoniously with our earth and each other, there is much to learn from Indigenous Knowledge Keepers, Elders and their practices. 

“Today, and everyday, I celebrate and give thanks for the many relatives that have sacrificed, resisted and loved fearlessly because of the love for our people. It is always a great day to be Indigenous.” – Cassie Michell
We asked Indigenous staff, clients, patients and at BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services to share words of wisdom from those who have inspired them on their journey.

Eaglesky, client at Correctional Health Services
“My Uncle Stan is my biggest inspiration. He is an individual who has knowledge of residential schools, who has gone through it himself. He lives today, and looks at the culture and makes it stronger for others in the community.” 

Jessie, patient at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital
“‘Discipline is the mind, not the body.’ That’s what my uncle and sensei says – he is my inspiration.”

Cassie Michell, Indigenous patient experience lead, BCMHSUS
“I am fortunate to be surrounded by Indigenous Matriarchs who are strong in culture, traditions and teachings. They have given me a tremendous gift—reinforcing that embracing my Indigeneity, creating space in places our ancestors never could have dreamed of and being here today as an Nlaka’pamux woman, are acts of resistance and ongoing ceremony. 

My grandmother Agnes Michell, mom Shelly Niehaus, Aunt Pauline Michell, adoptive Aunties Vanessa Mitchell, Rose Melnyk and Crystal Morris are just some of the Indigenous women to whom I contribute my drive to advancing Indigenous Health, Wellness and care that is culturally safe for all Indigenous Peoples.”

Belle Beach-Alcock, Indigenous care coordinator, Red Fish Healing Centre for Mental Health and Addiction
“The Matriarchs in my life have taught me to be proud of my Indigeneity and to stand up for Indigenous rights. My mother always taught me that whenever I was hurt, scared, lonely or afraid, I could always look to the Mother Earth to provide the love and positive energy needed to help me keep going. She taught me to use animal medicine and to strive to work together for the good of the whole. My mother also taught me that our Ancestors are around us all the time, we just needed to learn how to look. 

The Matriarchs in my life always taught me to be true to myself and to express my creativity. I really appreciate the Warrior Spirit that they gifted to me, teaching me to be compassionate and humble, but to always stand up for myself. My Granny used to say, “Your Grandfather came from a shack and I came from less than that, never forget that!” She was reminding us to be humble, always, but to push for the success of our Peoples. I am grateful beyond words for these Teachings and the activism of my Ancestors, to have paved the way for us now.”

Indigenous People’s Day on June 21 is an opportunity for us all to reflect on the unceded, ancestral lands on which we live and work on in B.C. and across Canada, and to learn about Indigenous culture, history and practice. 

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