This article was written by Elaine Creighton-Fox
It was February 2020 when Covid 19 halted my in-class sessions at the University of Lethbridge. At first, I could not really comprehend what was happening. It was annoying to me and I did not really think it was real. I loved going to classes, engaging with my peers and studying there. It was a happy existence for me. One of the few ‘happy’ times in my life. I should mention I am a Blackfoot Grandmother and the last generation of residential school survivors. The school was named St. Mary’s Residential school and was built on the Blood Reserve. Out of the thirty classmates I had, there are only a few of us left, maybe five. Many of them lived short lives. Their childhoods and adulthoods were robbed from them and many died from addictions, broken hearts and the resulting dysfunctions that occur when a child is taken away from its family.
I mention this time of my life because, in our culture, one of our main belief systems is that everything in life comes in fours (4’s). So the four ‘happy’ times in my life have been: (1.) being primarily raised by my maternal Grandmother up to the age of eight. (2.) Raising my two children, my son passed away at age 16 and I still have my daughter. (3.) Being a hands-on Grandmother of seven and (4.) Higher learning, whether it is European academia or increasing my Blackfoot language and cultural knowledge. I should mention too, I am an alumnus of the University of Lethbridge. This institution is where I found my identity at the age of thirty-five when I took Native American Courses, and later graduated with a Management Degree with a concentration in human resources.
So now you understand why I was very upset when covid 19 made its arrival. All of a sudden I was shut in again, against my will. Anger and frustration were my first emotions, it took a few sessions from my counsellor to identify where those were coming from. The media was like a daily doomsday voice, stay home, social distance, wear masks, wash your hands, it’s going to get worse. And then waiting in the line ups outside stores you are used to making a quick stop at. I found myself defiantly accepting all these ‘rules’. So I did what I did at residential school, I threw myself into books and read. And in this instance, I focused on and continued with my courses online and hoping next semester we would get back to normal. And in the meantime, I will accept, like I did when I was a little girl of eight years old whose whole world ended when my mother and my auntie brought me to this huge building with these strange-looking people. And wearing even stranger clothes (nuns and priests). I accepted and endured for six years to finally be released from that evil place.
The worst part of Covid for me was not being able to see and hug and hold my grandchildren. I was with every one of them when they were born and I have been in their lives ever since. My daughter had us facetime, but it’s not the same. I needed their healing energies as much as they needed mine. Oh did I ever have to really pray and not cry when I would talk to them. I know people died from this virus, and suicide and divorce rates skyrocketed. I can not even imagine the behind closed door abuses of some children, whose only escape for a little while, was school. I can’t imagine it because I went through adverse childhood experiences from residential school and I do not wish that on anyone. I hurt too much for these children suffering during this covid.
Nine months later, we are all still waiting for this virus and lockdown to end. Now I am looking at Covid with a new perspective. This Covid restricted everyone and locked them in. Now those people who took control of others also had no control. Now maybe the European colonizers have a taste of losing their freedom and agency. Maybe it’s karma or a way of the Universe telling us to ‘stop, slow down, and just let others be’.
Spirits are broken when controlled and some never recover. I am still waiting for in-class sessions, and I am blessed with healthy grandchildren. My daughter takes every precaution to keep them safe and I am one of their only visitors these days. Covid will go away sooner or later. Like what I learned at University, ‘one thing constant in life is change’. Hmmm…wonder what the birth of this Covid will be? Perhaps more compassion and understanding and a portal to a little bit more equality? Have a good Christmas and a Happy New Year, regardless of the situation, just make it a good season. Until next time, Grandma Lane.