Today I’m chatting with Emilee Guevara, an Indigenous journalist, no-wave feminist and everyday existentialist from Canada. She is Saulteaux Cree Métis, Filipina, Scottish and Irish, and I discovered her writing on a fabulous BC-based news website called The Tyee.
Emilee is such a curious sharp witted conversationalist, and I was mightily tempted to dive down all sorts of rabbit holes of fascinating conversation, but I managed to (mostly) stick to my three main questions.
We spoke of the deeply abiding fairytale of “Oh Canada, our home and native land”, being a highly sensitive person, tuning into our bodies, whose traditional land we are currently living on and tuning into the creative cycle and how to make space for the spirit of creativity.
She grew up in southern Ontario, attended school in Montréal and came to Vancouver, where she lives and works, for an internship. She teaches, facilitates workshops and was just recently hired by the National Observer to lead a series on First Nations’ environmental success in so-called B.C.
Emilee is passionate about relationship-based and culturally safe reporting and locates herself on the front-line of the changing culture of journalism.
Enjoy our ramble through the fairytale of Oh Canada! Our Home And Native Land as well as Emilee’s relationship with her body and creativity.
Resources from this episode:
- The Syilx People of the Okanagan Nation
- Vancouver sits on the unceded territory of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh & Musqueam First Nations
- Montreal is on Mohawk territory
- The Salteaux Cree of Manitoba
- Michif language
- The Lekwungen / Wsanec people of southern Vancouver Island
Connecting with Emilee:
- Emilee’s writing on The Tyee
- Emilee’s First Nations Forward series (and other writing) on The National Observer
Connecting with Janelle:
Reciprocity & Appreciation
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Things we chatted about in this episode:
- on how doing land acknowledgements can be awkward and disingenuous
- how the west coast of Canada has a unique First Nations experience of containing many unceded territories
- the fairytale of Oh Canada! Our Home And Native Land.
- On how the question of a favourite ancient story brings up so much
- on having a Salteaux Cree grandmother who embraced the life of assimilation
- having great regret for not having grown up with the same teachings and culture, as a result of those decisions
- on growing up with Catholic parents and going to Catholic high school
- on having sex at 15 then confessing to the priest in the school library
- the process of reclaiming her culture and decolonizing herself
- The fairytale about the history of Canada – and how the Canadian education system feeds us this story
- how we’re taught to understand the founding of this country avoids the complicated truth of our history
- how this national amnesia and this miseducating generations creates a long difficult road trying to untangle and unweave that
- why are we as a nation only learning about our diverse indigenous nations across this country now?
- on how our national anthem says ‘our home and native land’ but we’re actually ‘on native land’
- on looking at issues of reconciliation and court cases and on land and in front-line resistance
- where Canada is in the arc of this fairytale: now we’re having more public conversations about the past and the present, the reconciliation intent is at the tip of every politician’s tongue, more people self-educating, more people building relationships, more self-governing nations getting clear about what reconciliation is to them
- we’re at the point where it’s less of a fairytale and more of a non-fiction
- we can become the fairytale – become the badass heroine with bows and truth-bombs
- relationship with creativity
- on the importance of stepping away from distractions, social media and making space for the creative, then choosing to bring in inspiration other voices intentionally (sometimes music, sometimes a specific author, etcetera)
- on how creativity is like feeling and seeing a spirit of creativity running down the hill, and how we have to get ready to allow that spirit to speak through us
- if we protect our mind and spirit, then we can allow ourselves to speak from our truest self
- how few words we have in the English language for energetic experiences and somatic experiences
- on loving writing, and how reading, them stepping back and thinking, and talking to folks, and allowing for new thoughts and critiques to emerge
- if you want to write well you need to have something to say
- to be inspiring, you have to be inspired
- on giving herself her own writing residency: feeling the spirit of creativity coming and renting an airbandb in the city she was living in, leaving her phone behind, bringing some books and having a space of inspiration for herself
- on getting a lot of inspiration from her sister and groups of women – having good times to be our wildest and purest selves in the company of women
- on being near water and walking
- relationship with body
- On knowing her body is sacred, a temple
- on being highly sensitive – to surroundings, to what goes in her body
- on how being loving to her body is sometimes limited by accessibility to a certain lifestyle
- having reverence and respect for her body and women’s bodies have been through
- how being critical about her body as a younger woman, having unnatural ideas about what women’s bodies ‘should’ look like, and how much that criticism and judgment and jealousy takes our energy away from bigger goals
- how these unwelcome critical belief systems can feel like psychic radio waves we have to be careful about getting plugged into (Janelle)
- on being highly sensitive, and how her body tells her something isn’t right or good through heat in the body, nausea – telling her to take herself out of that situation
- how taking away layers of ‘not seeing’ also takes away layers of protection, which means extra care is necessary
- can be extra sensitive to certain presences and people, and touch
- when feeling safe, can let go and gets a whole new body sense of awareness and freedom, patterns of expansion and contraction
- how high sensitivity prevents us from betraying ourselves in order to go with the flow (Janelle)
- how amazingly strong our bodies are, and so capable of healing
- basically we’re superheroes, and that’s pretty cool