This is my story – Waake Bine Siik

Indigenous women Elders The Eagle Feathers and Smudge along with tobacco at City Hall - Image taken with permission
The Eagle Feathers and Smudge along with tobacco at Thunder Bay City Hall - Image taken with permission
Indigenous women Elders The Eagle Feathers and Smudge along with tobacco at City Hall - Image taken with permission
The Eagle Feathers and Smudge along with tobacco at City Hall – Image taken with permission

THUNDER BAY – This is MY STORY! It is definitely not any easy story to tell or to hear, so please prepare yourself if you plan on seeing it to the end. This is one of my outlets and I think it is important for these conversations and stories to occur in a public space. Especially if we are ever going to be able address the many social issues that plague our community and society. Yesterday was five years to the day that I was raped by someone who was supposed to be a friend. I was a good friend with his wife and their newborn daughter was only three weeks old.

After six months of repressing and denying it, I began to tell people. I told his wife before I phoned the police and pressed charges. She believed me. She went home and first punched him out and then told him the police would be looking for him. When he heard that, he immediately left town and was not seen or heard from.

A week later the police put a nation wide warrant out for his arrest. Approximately one year later police stopped him in another city and found he was wanted for questioning in an alleged sexual assault.

He was transported back home for questioning.

Eventually he was formally charged and a court date was set. He pleads not guilty and a trial date was then set.

I was terrified and determined. The determination overrode the fear, but I was scared. I knew that I could not properly move forward until I followed through with what I had set out to do.

There were many remands and it did get tiring. I understand why some women do not go to the police and justice system. It is intimidating and revictimizing. I was in a state of mind that I cannot explain and would like to never experience again.

This courtroom drama went on for a full year.

How awful as a victim to have to be subject to that. However, as a woman in our society, I know that there is a damn good chance this could happen again.

The only way to be completely safe is to never leave your home.

This is an incredibly sad state of affairs and I wish more people cared for our ikwe wuk.

Maybe then we would see the day we can walk outside and be safe, or even better, live in our homes comfortably not fearing the unknown. The day was nearing when I knew I would be testifying.

Shortly before trial, I had a dream that I was sitting on the second stair of a long staircase and I was looking down. I could see four or five stairs and the rest was pitch black. I had no idea what was down there and I could only stare. All of a sudden an Eagle came and sat beside me, he allowed me touch his wing and brush my fingers through his gorgeous feathers.

I was completely amazed at what was happening.

The Eagle then held my hand with his talon and was rubbing my hand with his claws. I could fell each of his sharp talons so gently rubbing my hand, comforting me.

I woke up crying. I could feel his protection and knew that everything was going to be okay.

No matter what happened in court, I knew I was going to bounce back.

Then the amazing happened. I received an Eagle talon from my beautiful and wonderfully loving brother.

He gave it to me for protection and with it came important instructions. I could not even believe what was happening and yet here it was. I was holding in my hand an Eagle talon.

The day before trial I received a call from the prosecutor’s office stating that my rapist had changed his plea to guilty.

The funny thing is, I was not shocked. It made sense for him to be scared to face me. I was happy that I would not have to testify and face the most shocking and awful questions that a woman who has been raped will have to face.

There were two more court dates. I read a victim impact statement in front of my rapist and looked at him while I did.

That was a good moment, a very good moment.

This chapter in my healing journey was now over and my rapist was going to jail.

It was for one year, but the more important thing was that I had faced him and told him what he did to me was wrong. I walked out of that building feeling like I could take on anything.

And I still do to this day.

I could now try to move on and rebuild what had been shattered… my life, my mind, and my heart.

And I have moved on. I have rebuilt my life, and myself and I have finally let some extremely beautiful people in my life again. (You all know who you are) I did have many setbacks and occasionally still do.

I was extremely depressed, anti-social, and no trust whatsoever for anyone. I also dropped out of University for one year in 2010/11 in order to focus solely on healing myself.

I am still working hard at this and always will be. But I have been able to put it behind me and move forth. Very recently I was gifted two more items that speak to my healing journey.

Two weeks ago I was gifted a beautifully large and loud drum. Inside was my clan marking. I was honoured. Last weekend I was gifted a drumstick.

A young girl made it and had given instructions for it to be gifted to a woman only. I received an astounding message when the drumstick was placed in my hand.

The most important message in all of my healing has been to take care of that little girl inside of me. Hug her and tell her its okay. Love her and treat her well. That little girl, that innocent little girl is hurting and always will be; it’s my job to nurture her and provide for her.

This is what this gift said to me. And I will continue to do just that.

One final thought before I end this story. It is the anniversary of the day, five years ago, that someone tried to steal my power.

Five years of fighting to take it back and hold on to it during this crazy ride called life. In five years I have healed.

I am finding my culture, which continues to wait patiently while I find myself in the process. I am also ending this year with my graduation from University. What a way for me to be able to close this chapter.

Culture and education seeing me through these times. Yes there is a balance between culture and education and I will find it. I still stumble along the way feeling through the dark. But now I see light and know that I am in a good place and as safe as can be. I would not change a thing that I have done or experienced. I am appreciative of all the good and bad. It is making me who I am today. And this person who I am trying to be I am humbled by.

Miigwetch Creator for never leaving my side, even when I swore, blamed you, and told you to leave me alone. You continue to love me and stand by while I work on myself.

Waake Bine Siik

(Stephanie MacLaurin)

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