Staying Awake in Three Chapters
-- Sarah Arthurs

Shalome Hope is a recent recipient of the Chief David Crowchild Memorial Award in recognition of building bridges between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Peoples. She was part of a group who shared their stories of involvement with child welfare through art.

Last week Shalome presented at Kimmapipitsin, an event hosted by Vibrant Communities Calgary, on her experience of moving out of poverty as an Indigenous woman. Shalome, a Metis woman in her 30s now working at Servants Anonymous Society spoke of her time on the street.

As she looked out into the audience she shared that one thing you do as an attractive young Indigenous woman on the streets is Stay Awake. You develop strategies and tricks to keep yourself awake. You keep moving, because to fall asleep is dangerous. Looking out at us, it seemed as though she spared us the rest of the story and moved on to recounting how she made the journey away from such danger.

I heard this reference to Staying Awake in stark contrast to, but also aligned with the reference by Janet Gear, professor of spiritual formation at the Vancouver School of Theology, UBC. Janet cited Staying Awake as one of the three practices required to become fully human. Her working definition of being human is being capable of love. The greater our capacity to love, the more human we are. In order to love and stay aligned with all that is life-giving we need to Stay Awake. She quotes Rumi, 13 century Sufi mystic: “Why when God’s world is so big, have I fallen asleep in a prison of all places.”

In October 2015, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, speaking at a justice conference in Saskatoon, said that modern media could be used to end frequently negative stereotypes of indigenous people.

NewScoop YYC is embarking on a project to surface and share stories in Calgary about the movement towards Right Relations generated within and across communities including both indigenous and non-indigenous initiatives and collaborations.

NewScoop is committed to Staying Awake, gathering and sharing stories of where life is happening as we move together towards equitable, inclusive and generative community with indigenous neighbours.

We are looking for guides, champions, change makers, partners and supporters to be part of a Story Circle and news program focused on where good things are happening and our best imagining for the future. Everyone is welcome. Please contact Sarah Arthurs for more information and watch the NewScoopYYC space for further information.

This blog was originally posted to NewScoopYYC and appears here with permission.