Health: doing our best
You’re plenty more than good enough!
Through my life I felt I was barely good enough. My older sister was better at everything. Not only that, I was supposed to be a boy and failed that before I arrived.
No matter how hard I tried I wasn’t best at anything.
I began to question everything; I couldn’t accept that rules made by one person were the right way for everyone.
I learned some rules need to be broken. Change cannot happen unless someone does things differently, succeeds, and shows it can be done. Today we see communities standing up to the government and industry, showing things change if you stand firm and do the job well.
I challenged so many things. It wasn’t always easy or fear-free but sometimes it paid off.
Nursing was where I did excel and only after I did was I tasked by the Creator to stand against the double standards in First Peoples’ services. I could not follow their rules to abuse our people so I left nursing.
I did my very best and paid a price -- I began to know who I was and discovered I’m not what I do!
I vowed to find another way to confront the system and through helping our people tell their stories by reporting and writing I face health as far more than a service.
It was through Wawatay I met the late Daniel Cutfeet of KI by phone and later in person.
‘Do your best in your job, always,’ he said. ‘Regardless of whether you like the job or not, do your best.’
As he said this I thought how many times I’d done something ‘good enough’, perhaps not as good as I could do it, but enough to get by.
I also remembered how I felt when I took my stand against the nursing and medical authorities, how scary it was, but I knew I had to do it.
He continued speaking and as I listened I realized he wasn’t talking about paid work; he meant any job, any task given to us, at any time, anywhere.
Those words helped me to face fear of wounding someone or impinging on a person’s allegedly good public reputation with mighty words of truth in a public format.
At that time I didn’t know respect meant holding everyone accountable for their actions and failure to act. I learned that rapidly thanks to Wawatay readers.
I had already learned fear isn’t a reason to give up or bow to others wrongful actions regardless of their presumed authority; they are human like me.
Daniel’s ‘gold nuggets’, his words, kept returning.
I wrote stories that disrupted the comfort of those who furthered their lives and careers at our expense.
The huge menacing shadow monster of fear stalked me despite the absence of anything behind me except the ground I walked. And each time I faced my fears they fell away.
Taking a stand requires knowing where your feet are planted, your ground. That ground is taught and Daniel’s words are significant.
I recalled another traditional teaching: you only get what you can manage.
My courage and strength as a reporter grew as communities responded, bringing me more stories of injustice. I had so much help! We did it together.
Confrontation is creating awareness; it starts when we’re young.
The late Daniel’s great granddaughter, Keisha, learned about the importance of her job.
She was totally responsible at age three to set the table.
I made lunch, calling her to set the table.
‘In a minute, Gramma.’
I waited; she didn’t appear. I sat at the table. ‘Lunch is ready,’ I said.
She dashed straight to the table, crawled onto her chair and looked.
‘I thought you said lunch was ready,’ she said, looking at the empty table.
‘Well where is it?’ she asked bewilderedly.
‘It’s on the stove. Someone has a very important job that didn’t get done. It’s such an important job we can’t eat without it.’
She jumped off the chair, got the dishes from the counter and set the table carefully.
‘There, I’m done. We can eat, Gramma.’
Keisha doesn’t leave her responsibilities for someone else.
When she was seven years old she held me accountable. I told her she would help me make turkey soup. While she was playing I put the bones in water to boil.
Marching from her room she placed her hands on her hips and said, righteously, ‘And what are you doing, without me?!’
‘Yes you are, I can smell it.’
I was let off the hook when she saw the bones and believed I’d call her.
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