FNT2T Life Long Learning: “Emotions are Sacred” by Andrea Landry

Good Day! We hope that everyone is safe and well. Andrea Landry is a guest writer for FNT2T Life Long Learning. She discusses the effects of colonialism on Indigenous kinship and the importance of restoring our ways as Indigenous peoples. Landry is an Indigenous rights defender. She is passionate about restoring and revitalizing Indigenous kinship practices and relearning relationship with the Land. FNT2T Life Long Learning is grateful to Andrea for sharing her knowledge.

Emotions are sacred. Yet, colonialism, residential schools, and those nuns and priest in those schools, have attempted to dismiss and deconstruct that truth. Those schools, and the processes of colonization, have taught us that it isn’t safe to feel. Yet, prior to colonization, emotions served their purpose in our kinship systems. The release and flow of emotions, and the ability to not stay stuck in the stories that drive our emotions in our lives, is what allowed us to complete our inherent roles and responsibilities in our camps and villages. They allowed us to survive.

Whether through expressions of joy, empathy, sadness, anger, or fear, the flexibility to live as emotional beings was honoured and supported by the collective. How did this show up? What did this look like? How did our kinship systems support, and have the capacity for, emotional intelligence? It showed up in the automatic, committed, and prayerful support system which was integrated into the homes of new mothers and their babies. The conscious decision for aunties, sisters, and kokums to step in during the most vulnerable time of a woman’s life came with the knowledge and understanding of the deep, emotional experiences that took place during a new mother’s first few months. Soups, teas, medicines, and prayers filled the home of the new mother, allowing space for all emotions, and all vulnerability to take place, cupped in the loving hands, and embraced in the loving arms, of all of those whom made up the support system.

This practice of emotional intelligence showed up when camps and villages recognized when families needed additional support, whether it was with the children in their lives, with meeting their basic needs, or if situations of grief and loss occurred. It was never questioned when families needed support. Each family gave their absolute best to those who needed that help. And this giving, this space of love and support, came from that emotion of empathy. For if our people were not empathetic, families would have struggled way more than they did during that time period. The practice of emotional intelligence showed up in the teachings, which is not knowledge that should be written about; however, each family, community, and nation has their own, similar in nature, which derive from human emotion. We are at a point in time where colonialism, residential schools, and those priests and those nuns in those schools have attempted to dismiss, and deconstruct, our own relationships with our emotions.

The revitalization of our kinship systems is founded on the revitalization of our relationships with our own human emotions. Because those schools taught us that it wasn’t safe to feel. The invitation that lies here, is to remember this: In order to create liberated families, we must relate to our own emotions how we did long ago. We must relate to our emotions from that space of safety, truth, and love. Emotions are sacred. As long as we practice the teachings.

Miigwetch! Renew and revitalize.