By: Lori Ann Ellis
Every day I look in the mirror and to my surprise the color of my skin is not the first thing I notice. I see a person. A person who has known horrible loss. A person who has known incredible joy. I see a little girl, and an old women. I see a lady growing and changing every day. I look at my freckles and think of my Scottish ancestors. I think of my love of tea and think of my Grandfather who fed me tea while I was bounced on his knee teaching me in his own way about my English Family far across the sea's.
Somewhere floating around in my head are French words I carefully studied for 7 years honouring my Grandmother who's French Canadian heritage I greatly respect. I embraced my neighbours I came to feel were my family that I spent my youth with. Growing up in a more gentle trusting time. We ate their food we played with there children we were Italian. Even when we moved to Calgary a small part of me thinks of the sweet smells in the kitchens I grew up with and the smell of garlic or oregano make me feel at home. I have cousins and friends of all nationalities, they come from all walks of life. I am truly blessed to be accepted as a family member in many ways by many people. I have friends from Lebanon, Tanzania, India, United States, Kenya, Canada. I have broken bread with Millionaires and shared my food with the homeless. I have listened to people talk of their summer home while others spoke of the doorway they shared to get out of the rain last night. I have seen million dollar outfits that were felt out of place because they were last years style. And I have seen women run naked from the hands of a violent man. I have seen Women who felt they were beaten down rise to great heights. I have seen women of great power fall a great distance because life is real. Life takes us in many different directions and keeps us always on our toes. Life is a gift, life is a challenge and life is precious. Every day we wake up we can make a difference. We can cry for what we don't have ,pray for what we want or be grateful for the gift of another day. We can feel sorry for our lot in life and blame everyone else, or we can say how can I make today count. What can I do today to lift another soul. What can I do today that will touch a life in a positive way. I feel the pain of people who have been hurt by the life they have known. I too carry the scares of violence on my skin and in my soul. I know first hand what alcohol can do to rip a family to shreds. I know how a loved one addicted to drugs can burn you to your very soul. The pain I have known is very real. I carry these memories with honour. I carry them with pride. If I had never known this pain I could not stand hand in hand with other people and know I can handle whatever life has in store for me. I have been lied to stolen from beaten and raped. I have been cheated and pitied. More important than that I have been Loved, respected,honoured and appreciated. I have laughed with many and cried with more. I look at people and I do not see color I see love and sadness and pride and joy and desperation. I see life! I am grateful for simple joys of every day life. I held a new baby yesterday and looked in the face of this small child and knew he had a life ahead of him with many twists and turns. It is his road to travel and his alone.
Every time we make a choice it takes us in a different direction. I think of my Sister in Law Cara and the road that took her to be on that horrible farm where she lost her life. She could have taken different paths that lead her far from the filth she died in. But to say that she made her way in that direction or any other of the Women because of their Heritage is placing much pressure on her skin color. These girls did not end up at the farm or any other place of horror because of their skin. They ended up where they did because of choices. They have wound their way down their path and reached their final destination. Surly there have been things from their background that helped guide them down this path. But to say they did so because of their skin is just not right. We make choices. They can be wrong ones or right ones but they our ours to make. We can not go back in time but we can look forward. What happened to the Women on that farm sickens me to my very soul.
Let us mourn these women. Let us mourn what they were, where they were but most important let us mourn what they could have been and never where. When you morn the loss you morn all we have lost. The best way to honour these women is to honour them as a whole. These girls lived together Black White Native and everything in between. I do not grieve the loss of my White sisters or my Black sisters or my Native sisters. I grieve for all, all the women who could have been much more. I grieve for the pain they lived with every day. Loss is part of life you are born and you will die. What you do to fill in the time you are here is up to you. You hold the map and you choose your path but if the direction you choose leads you astray don't blame your forefathers your parents or friends or your heritage just look at the map and try to lead yourself back home.