Blog

Welcome to my blog, where I share all the stories from my L2L expedition as I row, cycle and kayak a continuous loop of the planet. I hope you'll enjoy experiencing the highs (and lows!) of my journey so far and the adventures ahead on my way back to Tower Bridge. You can also have a listen to my Phonecasts recorded en route.

Canada bound

This is Lucy here – Sarah’s fiancee….

I am sat in my kitchen tapping away at some expedition admin, knitting some Christmas hats, dressed in my shorts and a T-shirt. Why? Because I can! I have piles of cold weather and camping kit dotted around the living room, which my lodgers kindly jump over every time they enter and exit the room. My bike has had a refurb and is in the kitchen waiting to be boxed up for the flight.

As I listen to the boiler kick in and the bubbling sounds of the kettle, feeling the fluffiness of the slippers I’ve just found under the table and put on, I find it impossible to imagine what I shall feel like in a week’s time, once I am with Sarah in Canada for the bike ride.

I like to think I’m used to the cold – working on the farm in winter, but -22 degrees in the day time?! This is something I cannot quite comprehend as I merrily tell people of the conditions ahead. They stare back – somewhat awkwardly with contorted looks on their faces, and the best of my friends dare to question and say, ‘Luce, er, I’m really quite worried for you. We know Sarah’s a bit bonkers but you’re not quite on that scale (yet?!). Have you trained? Have you been living in the freezer to acclimatise? What socks are you taking? Have you been eating everything in sight?’ (Yes – of course to the latter, that’s standard!)

One question leads to a ream of kind curiosity and concerned confusion, which leads me to think I should be a bit worried about what the next couple of months will bring. Maybe the fear will kick in on the plane, but for now I’m quite happy living in ignorance and knowing I shall be in good hands, that the bears have gone to sleep and hopefully I can be of some use to Sarah out there too – Chief Tent Putter-Upper perhaps, Sock Warmer, and Christmas Carol Singer – that kind of thing.

If you read Sarah’s blogs back in the summer, you’ll know that she surprised me for my birthday inbetween the kayaking/biking legs and what a fantastic surprise. It was the bestest ever surprise. We had a whirl wind week, nearly giving my Gran a heart attack when Sarah waltzed into the living room where she was quietly knitting. Sarah learnt how to drive the combine (a little too excitedly at times) but did very well and only fell asleep twice. She got a little taste of the farm in the summer before getting back to Alaska, worlds apart from home. I didn’t quite have time to experience all the emotions I normally do when Sarah goes away (which is a blessing!) knowing that just in couple of months I would be seeing her again.

Sarah mucking in with the harvesting

Sarah mucking in with the harvesting

So, as I wind down my life for this year in the UK, wishing my hockey and rugby teams that I’m leaving behind luck in their remaining matches and apologising for my absence, I am filled with pure excitement thinking of the adventure ahead. Albeit, it is a pixel in a picture compared to Sarah’s days and months out there, but nonetheless, an adventure. A very big thank you to my fantastic parents (and the animals!) for letting me have such a lovely chunk of time away with Sarah. The best Christmas present ever. All in all, I’ve had a very lucky year.

I am raising money for Sarah’s charities, aiming to raise £1 for every km I cycle to make my trip count. So if you’d like to sponsor me a km, then please donate through Sarah’s usual page but add in the acronym, MIC (make it count). Donate here :)

I am hoping the next blog is a happy one, whereby the risk of nearly frost bitten digits is still a novelty and that we are still singing the Frozen soundtrack at the tops of our voices.

Heres to the adventure….

Lucy x

And many thanks to the fabulous PushPedal who did a great job at getting my bike up to scratch

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In which Edmonton keeps its distance

So… the whole Edmonton thing. It’s not quite happening in the way I had imagined, though it is certainly proving to be quite the adventure and the delays and twists and turns are throwing me into meeting some lovely, interesting folks. It now looks like Lucy will almost certainly beat me to Calgary, short of the plane going on strike.

Since I last wrote we have decided (Team L2L) that we are not going to predict when I might be anywhere as it is proving rather impossible to get anywhere near the correct answer. If only Edmonton was a comet, maybe it would be easier to reach!

I have in fact been to Edmonton already this last week and with Hercules, too. But we didn’t pedal so it doesn’t count.

Snowbiker

Snowbiker

Snow dump

After my last blog the snow fell to a soft and beautiful 8 inches the night before I left Grande Prairie, making for a rather tiring 15km walk pushing my 70kg Herculean steed through the unplughed snow to get out of town. Having discovered Tim Horton’s recently, I paid my dues and inhaled half a dozen doughnuts before pushing on into the white and along the icy highway. The long and the short is that three days later I wasn’t very far down the road and so when a kindly truck driver stopped to take my photo, followed by a police officer stopping to take my details, I rode the 320km to Edmonton with Truck Driver Dave to pick up my winter spiked tyres.

Trucks trucks trucks galore

Trucks trucks trucks galore

Talk about serendipity – Dave is a keen winter biker, so had lots of useful tips to share. I had a couple of days in Edmonton rifling through my pre-shipped boxes of winter gear, bought some pretty fancy and toasty warm cycling boots as my neoprene wellies were freezing solid in the -20 C temperatures and threatening frostbite, and chose a new winter tent for Lucy and me.

In which the Police officer stops to see if I am OK

In which the Police officer stops to see if I am OK

Team Millar Western

Way back in the Yukon I met a couple on a 9 month road trip and they hooked me up with friends and family on the route, including family in Edmonton. They are part of the Millar family, which owns the forestry firm Millar Western and the lovely Janet made it her mission to find me a ride north again.On Friday two of her colleagues drove me the 300+km back out to my spot on the road to join up my dots again. Connie was the final chauffeur to me and Herc – a true Mum at heart, for , as we approached, she said, ‘I can’t do it. I can’t just leave you here at the roadside! It’s not right’. With some persuasion that I would be just fine, she did let me out into the snow and minus temperatures and Hercules and I tore through the 65km to an apartment of the aforementioned Millar Western with much more speed and grip than we had done with the old tyres. What a treat. Now, having found a way to ride, I just need to find a way to pee in the super cold without getting super cold. (For those of you about to suggest SheWee/PStyle or similar, that is just a recipe for wet/frozen shorts. I’ve tried)

Joining the dots up from the point I left off - thanks Millar Western

Joining the dots up from the point I left off – thanks Millar Western

Yesterday’s riding to Whitecourt was made all the more fun by being joined by Ray, locally acknowledged as the ‘only winter biker around here’ on his fat bike (think motorbike sized tyres) and an overnight with his young family. One of his sons exclaimed this morning ‘It was great to meet you. Now I can say I had a celebrity sleep in my bed’. ‘Oh, no, I’m sorry’, I said. ‘Hercules was in the garage’.

Staying put

And Whitecourt is where Hercules and I have stayed again today, despite my best efforts to leave and on account of Hercules having a touch of man flu, scuppering my vision to ride through the night to Edmonton. Today he had his first two flats of this continent, courtesy of one of those cheeky bits of metal wire that lorry tyre blowouts leave on the road, a broken quick release as I replaced the wheel, and an issue with the brake caliper (might be the wrong word?) grating the wheel rim in a dangerous sort of fashion, irritating my ears and damaging the rim. And this was all before I had even managed to pedal us out of town!

Three men and a bike

Three men and a bike

I am no mean bike mechanic but I do enjoy tinkering, and figuring out, something that works to get me on the road again. The grating-slowing effect of the brake system had me stumped for a wee while until a chap called Jeff stopped to help and took me back to his friends’ house, having seen me with Hercules upside down at the other end of town a few hours before. His pals Jason and son Terris jumped straight into action when we arrived, oohing and ahhing over the various novel bike parts, and I sat smiling at having three eager chaps working on Hercules. They are real wheel-nuts. Cars, bikes, engines – I could see they were in their element. Folks are super, super kind – this is not just my journey and never has been really. All of these people become a part of it, too. I just get to sit on the bike – there are so many people helping the wheels turn and get them going when things splutter to a stop. People – know that your cyclist is super grateful! inter cyclist Ray delivered a new quick-release spindle this morning to me, roadside, and insisted I take some of his extra inner tubes too, not being sure of how well tube repair would work at minus whatever.

-15C quickly became -20C, Still a novelty!

-15C quickly became -20C, Still a novelty!

Cold country, warm people

So I feel happily, cosily, looked after as I sit here cross-legged in front of a roaring wood stove in a lady’s house while she is out at a church meeting, having met her an hour before she left me alone in her house. Talk about trust, warmth and kindness. I am one very lucky lass. It is the story of the road – especially, it seems, now things are even chillier. Most people balk at the idea of me sleeping out, even though I have lots of warm clothing and a fluffy duvet of a sleeping bag. Meanwhile, my new winter 2-person tent sits patiently in my rack pack waiting for its first outing. It looks like it may wait until I reach Calgary and meet up with Lucy.

I love staying with families - it reminds me of my own

I love staying with families – it reminds me of my own

Tomorrow Hercules and I wil ltry to ride again and, if the going is good, I aim to ride late into the night to reach Edmonton. (It is 180-something km away) But I am not getting my hopes up (or Hercules’) as this journey shows me time and time and time again, you just never can tell. And anyhow, the journey is the reward….

Onwards!

Sarah and Hercules x

P.S Thanks to Dave the Truck Driver, Team Millar Western, Team Hilts, Jason, Gay and Terris, Wine, Jeff, Byron Suley nad Revolution Cycle for all your help in recent days

P.P.S The ice tyres are Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro

Any snowy donations welcome here :)

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Surely she will die!

Snowy riding has been both beautiful and brutal

Snowy riding has been both beautiful and brutal

A couple of days ago I cycled into Alberta from British Columbia, on a happily unloaded Hercules as a recent host from Dawson Creek happened to be driving that way on that day, and so took most of my luggage. I am glad because the front wheel bearing had been feeling rather unhealthy for the last 500km, meaning I was working extra hard for my miles (think of riding with the brakes on). Coupled with a family of unhappy spokes in the back wheel that were starting to pop and fold, I was glad to finally make it to a bike shop that could give him some TLC.

Herc getting some new wheels

Herc getting some new wheels

The enforced rest days while waiting for Hercules have also been welcome, even though I have had lots of these recently and  sometimes have to remind myself I am cycling across the country. In fact, in the last three weeks I have only cycled 8 days – resting and waiting seems to have been the default, either waiting to banish germs or waiting for treatment slots for either myself or Hercules with local (very busy and spatially distinct) specialists. It feels like we are both ready to crack on again – a sort of Sarah and Herc V 2.0  (Winter edition), now that Herc is back from the docs. A few inches of snow have fallen in the last six hours or so too, meaning white riding again for at least tomorrow.

Herc looks pretty good in white

Herc looks pretty good in white

I have really enjoyed the time off the bike and am grateful for it. Had everything been fine with body and bike I likely would have pushed on and missed lots of stories and moments and wonderful people. Ever since quieting Chimpy when I first got sick a few weeks ago, I am pretty chilled about recent delays impacting on my journey east. Though I am a couple of weeks behind where I thought I might be, my team and I are happy with progress. I have also realised that I need to be cautious not to get caught up in peoples’ projecting their fears or concerns onto my own perception of things. Though they live in chilly temperatures and snowy conditions, there is only one person who knows what it is to ride my bike at the moment – me. With my host family in Grande Prairie tonight we spent the whole evening joking, rather morbidly but hilariously now that I think of it, over my host Alex’s declaration to the video camera of ‘Surely she will die!’ as we tiptoed outside through a fresh drop of snow en route to dinner. The thing is, new unknown things are often scarier than they actually are when you have a go. I am touched that her husband Brad took on a sort of fatherly concern and quizzed me about this and that before satisfying himself that I am sensible enough to ensure I have the best chance of not surely dying in the snow. I promise to my best, at any rate, and Hercules the warrior bike does, too.

Oil and gas country has been intense

Oil and gas country has been intense

My recent thwacking with the bronchitis was a really good reminder that my health took a beating over last winter and that I need to do everything I  can to stay healthy – sleeping, resting, getting massage and physio, touching base with pscyhotherapist Briony from time to time and eating my way East. It is not just about cycling to Cape Cod over the next four months but we need to ensure I am healthy enough to spend 4 months rowing across the North Atlantic straight afterwards. I recently hooked up with a dietitician in the UK and orders were given to eat more – both carbs and protein. Hooray and hooray! I have set to it with earnest, and though I had always thought I was eating enough, lo and behold, I now have more energy and less muscle soreness.

The pastoral sweeps of land remind me of home

The pastoral sweeps of land remind me of home

As I pedalled south through the foothills of the Rockies from Fort Nelson to Fort St John through all degrees of snow, ice, slush, fog and bright sunshine, with more and more oil and gas trucks rattling past at rocket speeds, I settled into the stop-start can-we-can’t-we mode of  riding when I could and pushing Herc up and down said hills in the slippery conditions or leaping off the road so as not to be obliterated by the gargantuan trucks. It was exhilerating to a point, interesting seeing the evolution of the landscape and the scale and pace of the oil and gas industry which criss crosses the region like an army of metallic ants marching between extraction sites and a good workout for mind and body being on high alert. Around the hubs of Dawson Creek (Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway) and Fort St John, the traffic became stressful and intimidating. I am glad the road shoulders have widened to give me a whole lane to myself now I am in Alberta.

We part company with the AlCan, or trusty road for the last 1000 miles

We part company with the AlCan, or trusty road for the last 1000 miles

Hanging out with, and being hosted by, lovely local folks has helped the mellow mindframe – indeed can sometimes feel like I am leaving family as I cycle away from front doors, waved on by new friends. I suppose the warmth and comfort of houses and showers and someone else looking after me has a large part to do with said relaxing too, and I am really grateful to everyone who has hosted me for their kindness. It has been an education as well,  a snapshot into modern Canadian life up here. From being invited in out of the cold by the road grader who works out in the bush clearing service roads for oil and gas companies and listening to his tales of winters and wildlife; to having a field researcher deliver me breakfast to my snowy tent; to learning  about the work of a local First Nation band’s efforts to work with government and industry to regulate resource extraction and processing on their land; to hanging out with a rower-turned-environmental consultant and getting her take on the complexities of land management in an ecological, economic and cultural context; to making a dance video with six year olds through having a pair of  teenagers duet  for us in the kitchen; to sharing in the excitement of (my first) Halloween and all the associated candy and home made cosutmes, to sitting in on a book club evening of wine and debate; through comparing the graceful speed and technicality of a speed skaters’ group training with the somewhat brash and brusque ice hockey practice going on at the rink next door and joining in with family games.

Star brought me breakfast-in-tent in Buckinghorse

Star brought me breakfast-in-tent in Buckinghorse

Being able to put first-hand accounts of life working on the oil patch to the things I had seen on the road (bejillions of huge trucks, some crazy driving and various pump and compressor stations and flare chimneys) was interesting and so too has been my time staying with a family of family doctors.  Hearing more opinions on the complexities of, and challenges faced by, First Nations communities in modern Canada has been thought provoking and poignant and I find myself pedalling on with more questions than answers.

Abe Lincoln and a Juice Box for Halloween

Abe Lincoln and a Juice Box for Halloween

In summary, life on the road – or more recently off it – continues to be interesting, varied, emotive and peopled with kindness and good energy. Happily now, it also involves some working wheels.

Duetting teenagers - very,very lovely - everyone should have some!

Duetting teenagers – very,very lovely – everyone should have some!

Providing Tropical Storm Nuri and it’s associated systems doesn’t kaibosh things, the newly-wheeled Hercules and I shall zip south east to Edmonton over the next four days, stop briefly to sleep overnight and give a school talk, before cracking on towards Calgary, where I am expected a few days later. (The new front wheel is timely in this plan) I am really excited about Calgary for a couple of reasons. First off, one my L2L supported charities WaterAid is launching in Canada, teaming up with WaterCan to help implement safe water and hygiene solutions in communities around the world. And, super excitingly, in Calgary I shall be picking up a very special someone from the airport for six weeks of cycling. You probably have guessed already – it is Lucy, my fiancee, coming out to join the adventure and raise money for the L2L charities.  I am as happy as a bike with new wheels and Lucy is pretty excited, too. You will hear from Lucy soon on her thoughts ahead of our winter ride.

Sunshine and blue skies

Sunshine and blue skies

Meanwhile, thanks to local folk who have helped out lately: Family Keeler (FSJ and Dawson Creek departments),Family Noga/Martin and Katie and Matt for the serenades and ear-worms, Shelley and Bob, Roddy the rod grader, FourWord Bike and Board, Deep Physio, Nancy Doyle, Darrell Kaczynski and MSG Bikes.

Best,

Sarah and Hercules x

P.S To my friends in the Aleutians  and over the Pacific coasts, I hope you are all safe and well amid the big stormy stuff.

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Road’s steep border

 

Muncho Lake National Park

Muncho Lake National Park

 

A friends sent me Hardy’s poem ‘At Castle Boterel’ and this snippet seemed to match perfectly my riding of recent days wending through the Rockies.

‘Primaeval rocks form the road’s steep border,

And much have they faced there, first and last,

Of the transitory in Earth’s long order ;

But what they record in colour and cast  

Is—that we two passed.

A few days ago Hercules and I rode down out of the mountains that had silently shepherded us this way and that over the last few weeks. Or perhaps it was more the rivers that shepherded us, carving valleys through steep sided peaks, moving rocks and silt downstream. As we rolled along the Toad River keeping pace with flotsam keeping pace with us, I wondered at how amazing it would be to track a water molecule in it’s cycle from vapour to cloud to rain to ice or snow, maybe repeating bits of the cycle before it completes the full loop, into the rivers, out to sea etc etc…. To be a little camera inside a molecule of water would be fascinating. One heck of a ride.

Summit Lake in the mist and snow

Summit Lake in the mist and snow

And thus my mind is full of all sorts of wonderings in my wanderings and often nothings and somethings, too. Floating in or out Winnie the Pooh style in either contented emptiness or gentle awareness, mostly I love the contemplative meditative action of sitting and spinning the pedals. A wheeled mantra.  If Chimpy is chatty then sometimes I can distract him by losing myself in that motion, focussing on pulling my knees up and around or trying to keep my torso perfectly still. Or on other days Chimpy just can’t help himself but chatters around, getting in the way, making each pedal push feel like a marathon.

Last week the pedalling definitely felt like a marathon. Not just the Rockies but some cheeky germs in my lungs, all piled in with the emotion of being poorly away from home and the elation at become an Aunt for the first time. Emotion and mountains and a chest infection, I realise, have tired me out somewhat. Apart from the infection, they have all inspired and excited me too and, I suppose, have got me through, up and over in one piece (relatively).

Steamboat- 14km of uphill followed by brain freezing descent

Steamboat- 14km of uphill followed by brain freezing descent

Snowy mountains, icy lakes and silver trees were striking. Haughty elk on the roadside were amusing and majestic at once and eerie at night when calling out to each other in a curious transistor radio style vocal. The silence of a white day and the gentle non thud of snow slooping down off branches with a feathery plop. The childish joy at crunching fresh-footed where no one else has been and the quiet rush of gratefulness at finding a pile of unused firewood ready to go at a camp ground. The heavy drag of feeling poorly, engine slowed in mind and body, each pedal efforting more than ten on a normal day. The brain freeze on whizzing downhill for mile after mile from the mountains, eyes wide open for ice patches, nose dripping snotiscles over the cross bar.

Tired and slow in the cold

Tired and slow in the cold

The grateful rush of having someone smilingly refuse payment for warm drinks and snacks. Screamingly cold toes. The excitement at melting snow for water over a night time fire for the first time, followed by humoured annoyance at then dropping my dinner (and water) on said fire. My tight-chested teeth-gritted fear of riding hills with drop offs.  The longing for home aching in the emptiness of a hotel room. Spontaneous, humbling, warming kindness of strangers toward this oft-smelly, ragged-haired cyclist. The gentle comforting hug of a hot bath and the moment before the sleep fairies carry me away into slumber, muscles and mind stilled. Happy tears on meeting my first nephew over Skype. That is what this last week has been about.

Strangers become friends so quickly

Strangers become friends so quickly

Hercules and I are resting here in Fort Nelson for as many  days as is needed before carrying on (somewhat cautiously) down the road, south for a few hundred miles before turning left at Calgary.

Until next time,

Sarah and Hercules x

P.S Thank you to everyone who has donated to the L2L Charities recently. You can follow suit by donating here.

P.P.S Thanks and thanks to all the lovely local folk who have helped me lately. Wendi Laing, Joey McKay, Sandy Williams, Pam & Jim Boyde, the staff at Toad River Lodge, Sonja Leverkus, Gillian Leverkus and Woodlands Inn.

P.P.P.S I was glad to see my recent blog on Canada’s Residential Schools provoked so many comments. Hopefully it adds a teeny bit to outsiders’ understanding of the struggles of aboriginal communities and the longevity of the trauma and its cyclical nature, if nothing else.

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Dark times

Who am I?

It has taken a while to write this blog as the stories on which it are based shocked me and troubled me for days. They still do. I have wept while reading stories and spent hours and miles wondering at how on earth it could have happened. Once again, as in the Aleutians while hearing the tales of dwindling Aleut populations and their struggles through time and presently, I questioned my identity and what it means for me to be British, considering my country’s colonial past. I remember a similar feeling watching the brilliant and brutal ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ over ten years ago, feeling sick for my country’s historic part in the treatment of aborginal families in Australia.

The Indian Problem

Until spending time with Ann Maje Raider in the 1,000 community of Watson Lake, I had only heard allusions to Canada’s dark history of Residential Schools. Meeting me red-faced and grinning as I pedalled uphill into the morning sunshine, Ann whisked me straight up to a women’s shelter in town where we had lunch and chatted about the centre and life in the commnunity. I knew that addiction, drink and drug-fuelled violence and abuse were all problems in Canadian indigenous communities but didn’t know why. Through an afternoon and evening with Ann the answers were filled in with stark, terrible stories.

Herself a residential school Survivor, Ann told me how thousands of children were forcibly removed from their families and whisked away to residential schools over a 150 year period, with the aim of ‘aggressively assimilating them’ into white, modern society, started in the 1800s as pressures on land and resources brought traditional indigenous livelihoods into the furore of expansion and explotiative plans by the government and industry. The Establishment perceived they had an ‘Indian Problem’ and the way to deal with it was to break up families and ‘educate’ children through mandatory schooling between the ages of 6 and 16, hand and hand with the Church. Children as young as 4 were taken away from their tribes, herded into cattle trucks and placed in what have been described as more prison camp than school, institutions scattered about the country.

The Church in Lower Post. As an institution it has a lot to answer for in Canadian history.

The Church in Lower Post. As an institution it has a lot to answer for in Canadian history.

‘I remember I was 6. I didn’t want to go and clung to my Dad’s leg. The Agent said he would be put in jail if I didn’t go and I didn’t want him to go to jail. So I went,’ said Ann. Boys and girls were separated, stripped, heads shaved into identical hair cuts, given identical uniforms to wear and given numbers instead of names. There they remained for the entire year except for summer and Christmas holidays, unless they lived too far away for the government to want to pay their way home. Some remained there for years, returning to their communities as strangers. Ann said she lived for the summer time when she returned to the land with her family, camping, hunting, gathering berries, fishing and trapping.

Prison camps

While at ‘school’, children were forbidden from speaking to the opposite sex, forbidden from talking with their brothers and sisters and punished severely for doing so. They were taught to be ashamed of their heritage, their family and culture and punished and beaten for speaking their own language. Stripped of their dignity, their identity, undernourished and subjected to long arduous hours of labour and religious lessons, children were often sexually and physically abused, too, by the very people that were employed to look after and teach them. Many died along the way, through illness, beatings or murdering by their caretakers. On leaving aged 16, many descended into dark spirals of despair, alocholism, drug addiction and violence, suicide claiming many. For Survivors, the effects have been intergenerational and lasting, both personally and culturally. Language and culture transmission have been thwarted, families have been devastated by violence, abuse and addiction and the cycle of abuse and trauma continues for many.

Healing Journeys

When the last Residential School in Canada was shut in 1996 a government fund was set up to manage a $350 million healing fund over ten years. Ten tiny years for seven generations of children lost to the schools? I had to check I had heard it correctly. Healing still takes place in communities today through a variety of methods – Western counselling and therapy alongside traditional healing practices such as sweats and cultural activities. From what I hear from Ann in her role as leader of the Liard Aboriginal Women Society, the resources are limited and the need far outstrips local capacity to administer, especially now the ten year Healing Fund is closed. Ann and her team spend most of their year chasing grants to activate programmes around women’s rights and domestic violence. If only I had a golden ticket to help. Her energy and commitment were inspiring and her willingness to share her experiences humbling. She tried telling me I was brave for my journey and I pointed out that her journey has been far braver than mine. In 2008, nearly 20 years after the end of the schools Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologised for the government’s role in isolating indigenous children from their families, communities and cultures, condemning the practice and the policies which protected and supported the system. The various churches involved have apologised on a sliding scale, it seems.

Travis and Ann of the Liard Aboriginal Women's Society

Travis and Ann of the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society

Snapshot

That is but a tiny overview of the story. Search online or in books and you will find more. Be sure to read some of the hopeful healing accounts too, of strength and inspiration amid darkness. Ann smiled and laughed at times as she weaved in stories of defiance and bravery of herself and peers, fighting to maintain their dignity amid the relentless and brutal bid to stamp on it. She and her group are doing great things

In my mind there is but a whisker or two between this cultural genocide and the Holocaust and other genocides throughout history. It is institutionalised racism, a shocking bid for white supremacy. When one race deems another as inferior and sets out to dominate and erase their identity, they are not human. It troubles me that this happened so recently, instigated by people from my country, and it troubles me more that support, funding and understanding are not more forthcoming. I am grateful to Ann for sharing her stories and hosting me in Watson Lake.

Go well, my friends.

Sarah

www.legacyofhope.ca
www.lairdaboriginalwomen.ca
My Healing Journey – Art and poems by Mary Casear (ISBN 978-3-941485-28-0)

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