Lesson 2.1 – Assignment 2:2
Home is where my loved ones live. Home is where I, and my loved ones, feel safe. But where does the idea of home come from?
The words of the Nigerian story teller Ben Okri, as quoted by Thomas King in The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative: “One way or another we are living the stories planted in us early or along the way, or we are also living the stories we planted – knowingly or unknowingly – in ourselves. We live stories that either give our lives meaning our negate it with meaninglessness. If we change the stories we live by, quite possibly we change our lives” (153).
For me this sums up the story of our lives. Each of us has a story, and for each of us, our stories are created from a number of different influences. But most importantly, it is the stories we live by that make our lives and create our sense of home.
I feel that my story has been compiled by a number of influences. First and foremost there is the impact my family had on me as I grew up, but other factors helped to form me, and helped me determine what home means to me. These include the books that I read, the TV shows and movies that I watched growing up, as well as the family I created once I married and had children of my own, my community, and my spiritual centre.
I grew up in a family where my mom wore rose coloured glasses, and only saw what she wanted to see. As a result she always looked on the positive side of life. She was a good person. My mom’s mother passed from leukemia when my mom was 16 years old, but to this day my mom says she feels the presence of her mother at her side watching over her and her loved ones. My mom taught me right from wrong. She instilled in me the Golden Rule; I learned at an early age to be compassionate towards to other people, and to live my life always with the view of treating other people how I wanted to be treated. In return, when I raised my own three boys, I taught them this same way of experiencing life. But first my grandmother had taught these same principles to my mom.
My dad was a truck driver, and when he wasn’t driving, he was in the bar drinking with his friends. He came from a large family, and had 11 siblings. His father committed suicide when my dad was 5 years old. His mother had a difficult time trying to raise 12 children on her own, and ended up putting my dad into foster care when he was 8 years old. While in foster care, he was treated more like a servant than a child, and was often beaten with a rubber hose. When my dad was 12 years old he ran away, and lived on the streets. I remember him saying, “The only nutrients I received came from the fruit in the candy bars I ate.” When he was 14 he joined the Navy, and as he always said, “It saved my life.” My dad was a hard worker. I always had a roof over my head, and food to eat. I had two older brothers, and I had to fight for the right to be heard inside this male dominated family.
No one in my family had graduated from high-school, never mind college. So if my brothers or I wanted to go to post-secondary school, it was up to us to figure out how. I never believed I could go to university and get a degree. Instead I worked towards my Certified General Accountant certification. At the time it was not a requirement to have a degree, and the CGA designation was obtained by taking one course per semester while working full time. After working as an accountant for many years, and after starting, growing, and selling a software company (with my husband) called Top Producer Systems, I felt it was time for a change. Because my passion is books, and I love reading and writing about books, I started a book review blog, under the pen name of Linda Wright, called Books-TreasureorTrash.com. After reviewing numerous books, I decided to return to school and study literature analysis. At first I took only one course, at Langara College, but I had an encouraging and supportive teacher, and now I am in the process of completing the fourth year of my Bachelors of Arts degree with a Major in English Literature and a Minor in Creative Writing.
While I was growing up, religion was a dirty word in my family, and I never stepped inside a church until I was in my mid-twenties. A few months after I met the man I would eventually marry, and who would be the father of my three boys, he took me to Unity Spiritual Centre on Oak Street. I was blown away. I did not think it was possible for a church to be open and non-dogmatic. I did not think it was possible for a church to actually teach what I intrinsically believed. Although I had never gone to church, I always believed in a higher power, and I always felt a connection to the infinite. Now I had found my spiritual home, and a spiritual partner to share my life.
As Thomas King says in his book, The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative, “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are” (92).
After reading this article about Indian Posse co-founder Richard Wolfe, who spent half of his life in prison, and much of it ‘in the hole’, I can’t help but wonder if he had had a different view of home, and if his stories growing up had been more positive, that his life might have turned out better (Friesen).
In this video between Stu McNish and Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, the Chief discusses the benefits Canada will reap when the gap in education, opportunity, and living standards of indigenous peoples is closed. The issues that Chief Bellegrade raises ties in directly to the influence the community has on our stories. By closing the gap, the community accepts and includes First Nations individuals, and in the process lives change for the better.
My story, Richard Wolfe’s story, and the numerous stories shared by Chief Bellegarde all reinforce how each person’s journey is impacted by their home environment. There are many different cultures, and each places a different value on what is considered home. But I believe that for all of us, home is where you connect with the ones you love.
Evans, Blanche. “What Top Producer Brings to Homestore’s Party”. Realtytimes.com. 10 Sept. Web. 06 June 2016. 2000
Friesen, Joe. “Dispatches from an indefinite period in isolation.” The Globe and Mail. TheGlobeandMail.com. 05 June 2016. Web. 05 June 2016.
King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2003. Print.
McNeilly Purcell, Linda. “Love.” 2010. Digital Image.
McNish, Stu. “Bellegarde urges Canada to close the gap for First Nations.” Conversations That Matter. The Vancouver Sun. 23 March 2016. Web. 06 June 2016.
Wright, Linda. Books-TreasureorTrash.com. 24 Feb. 2010. Web 06 June 2016. http:books-treasureortrash.com/