Sunday, March 20, 2011


This is what happened during the first hip operation in 2005.
I think I had a secret death-wish; I wanted to join my Poopsie and get on with the next phase of existence.
I was told a multitude of times that my heart was in a very weakened condition and that there was a very real chance that I would not come through the operation.  I ignored all that and went ahead with it anyway.  I didn't tell my family what the doctors and technicians were saying.

I had my right hip replaced in April of 2005.  The docs thought my heart was too weak that time, too.  They kept telling me that there were no guarantees that I would wake up after being put under.  I didn’t feel that there would be any problem
They warned me again as they were administering a sedative before going into surgery.
Ø      This is how the rest of the tale shaped up.
Ø      I was on a stretcher outside of the operating room waiting.  I thought about what they had said.  I talked to the Creator.  “Creator, I don’t think they expect me to live through this operation.  I feel that all will be okay, but just in case they are right and I am wrong   I think you should let me die while I’m out here, than no one would have a guilty conscience about allowing me to die on their shift.  I’m ready to die now Creator.”
Ø      The Creator refused me entrance into the next stage of existence.
Ø      All those associated with the surgery were in the operating room discussing my best options.  The head nurse was sitting beside me.  She asked if I had any concerns.  I thought about it.  Then I related the tales I’d heard about patients coming through their operations with flying colors only to be struck down a week or two later with major infections, or something similar.  In all cases it was discovered that those who had carried out the operation had left something foreign inside the patient, causing the infection.  I said I wanted everything to be used in the operation counted before and after the completion of the surgery.  She pointed at a couple of nurses off to the side and said, “Listen.”  The nurses were dutifully counting all implements to be used.  I felt much better.
Ø      The doc and the guy administering the stuff for pain came over and told me that because of the condition of my heart they thought they should use a spinal tap.  They asked my opinion.  I told them that I’d never heard anything good about spinal taps.  We decided on a spinal tap after much discussion.
Ø      I was still sitting on the stretcher-like bench when it was administered.
Ø      My right hip had caused me to drag it around, but it was nearly pain-free.
Ø      That first needle nearly floored me it hurt so badly, and I can handle a lot of pain.
Ø      I nearly passed out.  I’d closed my eyes trying to gain control over myself.
Ø      I opened my eyes and standing about four feet in front of me was a man about 5 ft. 6  or 8 ins. Tall.  He was dressed in a tan colored  poncho with a hood.  He glided right up in front of me and the pain left.
Ø      I thought they said B.C. Medical was having serious financial problems and here they have a sensitive in the operating room.   I recall feeling very well looked after.
Ø      I leaned my head towards him and the pain left.  You big wimp.  You can do better than that.   I pulled my head back and sat up straight again.  He glided back to his original position.
Ø      The doctor gave me another prick with a needle and the pain was tremendous.  I recall letting my breath out very loudly.  The man in the poncho glided forward again, and as I leaned towards him the pain diminished.  Again I withdrew – thinking that I was being a cry baby.  I was ashamed of myself.  I sat up as straight as I could again, and he withdrew.
Ø      The doctor gave me another poke and it hurt so much I leaned towards the poncho ed form.  He came forward and I leaned my head right into his chest.  It seemed like my head just kept going forward until I knew no pain.  Each time he’d came close, he said without speaking,  that it was alright to release my pain to him.  He would look after me.  After that I have no knowledge of what transpired.
Ø      The second day of recovery one of the nurses came and asked me who I was talking to in the operating room.  I told her that I was talking to the sensitive.
Ø      She asked, “What’s a sensitive?”
Ø      To which I answered, “Why, the person B.C. Med sent in to absorb pain.”
Ø      She said there was no such person.  So I told her the same thing I have just written above and she said that it had sounded like I was having a conversation with someone.  She said that after I spoke, I stopped to listen to someone answering.
Ø      I still thought it was a sensitive on the B.C. Med’s payroll until my friend, Lynna came to visit and I related the same tale to her.  She said, ‘B.C. Med would never have sense enough to have a sensitive on payroll.  It sounds to me like it was a spirit  looking out for you.
Ø      After I gave it much thought, I had to agree.  I guess I didn’t think I was important enough for the Creator to send one of his helpers to look out for me.  Thank you, Creator.
So, you understand why so many people were concerned about my having this  second operation.
I had put-it-on-the-wind, which is my way of commuting with the Creator when I need a real solid answer.
This second hip was painful all the time, until I went to a Chinese acupuncture person and she made the pain go away.  I also worked with a Japanese acupuncture and moxie bustion doctor who performed marvels for me.  They strengthened my heart and I lived without pain for four months.  I began to think I didn't need to have the surgery.  That's when I put-it-on-the-wind.  I asked that the Creator let me know in no uncertain terms whether I should undergo the surgery. I even gave a deadline for the answer which was February 21, 2011. One should never ask for something unless they are prepared to live with the outcome.  Pain -  like I have never experienced before hammered at my body, even my head and my eyes ached.  It was horrible, but I knew that I was supposed to have the operation and I had no doubts about it.  I knew I would live through it. I had the operation on March 9,2011.
During this operation there were no spirits to help of guide me (at least none that I could see).
Holly Ann stayed with me until it was time to be moved to the operating room.  It took from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM for everything to be brought up to operation standards.
When we were finally in the operating room preparing for the surgery the man handling the medication made reference to the first operation and the difficulty they had in administering the spinal tap.  He asked how I felt about it and I told him that I would work with him and it would be alright.  There were about 6 people in the operating room.  The doctor said we were ready.  I said, "Except for one last thing.  I talked to the Creator about this operation and that's why I am here.  I want to speak to him before we begin."   One of the technicians said, "Oh, Mrs. Higgins don't be afraid, you're in good hands."  I answered.  "I know that.  I just want to acknowledge the Creator and thank him for having all the right people here in this room at this moment."  They made a loose circle around me and I made my prayer and felt much better for it.
Down at the entrance of the hospital Holly Ann is trying to get permission to sing the Woman's Warrior Song for me.  They wouldn't allow it.  One of the Volunteers, an East Indian man we've come to recognize over the years was appalled.  He said something like this, Oh, this is bad!  Her mama, who is a Coast Salish Elder is having an operation and they won't allow her to sing for her.  This is their land.  It's not right.  He went off to the Administrator and came back with him.  We don't know what he said, but they allowed Holly Ann to sing the Woman's Warrior Song to give me strength and hope.
So, you see, it takes many people working in all kinds of places to make the right sort of things happen. I know the heavens were bombarded with the prayers and white light that was offered on my behalf.  I am humbled.   I believe the Creator was pleased with the outcome of that day.  What do you think?

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I'm sitting at my computer with no real idea about what I shall write. I just know that I must write.  My heart is filled to over-flowing . My  tears - dripping from  my chin.  A huge feeling of humbleness and thanks giving seems to come welling up from the core of my being. I am so blessed to have such a family and nuclear family that make up my life.  I don't know how anybody could survive without such a back-up system.

I'm going to write about the things that have been happening over the past couple of weeks.  As you know, I was scheduled to have surgery on my left hip on April 8, 2010, but the  internal specialist cancelled my operation date because (in his view) my heart was too weak and I probably wouldn't live through the surgery.  I told him that he didn't know me, but he wouldn't be swayed.  So, I waited another year, dragging myself around with chronic pain that lasted 24X7 and didn't know how to let up.  After awhile your brain begins to shut down, even though you aren't really aware of it until the pain has subsided. As it has now.

AS USUAL, when I tell you about something there are always previous happenings that lead up to it.
I will try to take it easy on you and make my posts a little shorter.  Of course, there may be more of them to read.  Sorry.

I've  already told you about my Poopsie crossing over The River of Hope that  the Creator has set out for the Sheshalh people.  The promise is that "The last campfire shall not be extinguished nor will the wind cease to give breath to the earth, until the last Sheshalh person has joined the ancestors beside the campfire of their father.
To try to absolve the pain of loss I was looking around for a way to skirt it or circumvent it. I didn't want to face it, to admit that my Poopsie was gone from this life.  I was like an ostrich burying its head in the sand -attempting to deny what was.   I know now that that was a cowardly thing to do.  But I had to learn the lesson for myself.
  • In 2005, I was sitting at my computer and thinking about acting of all things. 
  • My phone rang and it was Lynna.  She asked what I was up to . . .
  •  Short version - 'I was thinking about trying acting.' 
  • She wanted to know where that had come from.  "Just thought I'd like to give it a try.  Can't be too hard.  We're all acting ever day of our lives."
  • She warned me that it wouldn't be easy because Vancouver was really busy  with movies, etc.  She said that I would need an Agent. No one would consider me without one and agents were at a premium.
  • Hmmmmh? I said, "I'll put it on the Wind."  She figured it would take weeks or even months.
  • Not even one week later she called and said I now had an agent.  She was totally surprised, but I figured it was because there weren't too many 72 year old Coast Salish Indian woman out there looking for an opportunity.  (?)  Who knows, right?
  • She got me an interview to show them how I could do my stuff. Smile.
  • Long story short.  The play was about a whole lot of young women that had been murdered.  Most were young, beautiful and and some  were hookers.
  • I went for my interview and this is what took place.
  • I stepped into a dimly lit room that had a place to stand with a coach behind me.  Quite a number of bright lights focused on me, There was some guy sitting off to the left in the shadows and about 8 or 9 other individuals sitting in the semi-darkness. 
  • They were the panel that were going to rate my performance.
  • I peered into the darkness attempting to make eye-contact with each one.
  • The guy on the left said, "I note from your resume' that you have never  acted in a movie before?" 
  • I told him I was an instructor and had 'put on' many plays so I didn't think it would be too difficult.
  • He cast a quick  glance at the people in the shadows and they sort of tittered at my audacity.
  • He said, "What made you want to try out for this particular play?"
  • Awww, hell.  I may as well throw caution to the wind.  In reality, I  was there to try out for the part of an elderly Indian woman, a real grandma type.
  • I answered, "Well, I've never had the opportunity to play the part of a prostitute before and I thought it was a challenge I'd like to try."  I didn't crack a smile.  I looked right at him and then slowly rotated to take the whole panel into the picture. 
  • He was shocked out of his socks.  They all were.  They expected me to talk about the grandma role.
  • They made a quick decision and ran me through the lines of my script.  It went pretty darn good, I think they were impressed.
  • He said that they'd let me know within the week about the part.
  • I left and went to find Holly Ann.  We got a coffee and were still sitting there drinking it when they delivered a message stating that the part was mine.  I signed contracts and we did the play over the next two or three months.  My part was very small.
  • The beautiful young actresses would come over to me after they had done their acting parts and apologize for the language they used.  They usually said something like, "I'm really not like that and I don't use that sort of language. Please don't think badly of me."
  • They cared about what I may think of them, so I guess I fulfilled the grandma role.
  • I didn't get to Vancouver when the movie was debuting because of my hip.  I have never even seen the movie, although others on Band Lands have.  They said it was okay. Actually, I was surprised when they came by to tell me they'd seen the movie and that I'd done a good job.  I had never told anyone about that episode of my life.  I figured that just Holly Ann's family and Lynna's family knew about it.
  •   The bottom line is -  I realized that I was trying to avoid Life.  One can not do that forever.  One has to stop and face what ever is gaining on them, look it directly in the eye, boot it in the butt and send it on its way.  

Friday, March 4, 2011


Whom is this post for?  Why, you, of course.

I just read an email from a dear friend, and it prompted me to write this post.

  • Sometimes, through no fault of their own, a  grandparent, a parent, a spouse, or a child become victims of some mind altering disease or injury.  This doesn't/didn't happen  because they are bad people, because they're not. 
  •  Sometimes it could be from the way they were forced to live in the dirty thirties or some other equally horrid era of their  past. 
  • They are,  in fact,  casualties, and they deserve our love and understanding.
  •  Sometimes we feel as though we could strangle them for their thoughtless, hurtful words and actions. Just remember, it really isn't them speaking or acting out in such a hurtful way.
  •  BUT . . . if we try to put ourselves into the circumstances that formed them, we will truly begin to understand that many of the older people lived from hand-to-mouth on whatever they could scrounge for food. 
  • Anything to fill their stomachs to keep them alive for their children's sake. 
  • They probably gave the best of whatever they had to their growing children
  •  And now, many years later, Time is catching up on them, and those dietary lacks, etc. are forcing their body to act in a way they would never consciously have chosen.
  • This fate didn't happen to me, and I thank the Creator for that, but I want all of you who have a similar version of this in their family to read the following words and imagine that it is the one you love speaking to you.

  • "My child, life has been a long, hard journey at times, but I want you to know that regardless of how tough the times were long ago, I would NEVER change them if it meant that you were not born.  You are my gift to the World.  Remember that, because even with my illness I know that somewhere deep inside of myself I am holding onto that thought.  I love you.  Please take the time to love yourself and the rest of our nuclear family."
  • I hope you don't think I am presumptuous for having written this, but if I were one of the people trapped in that state of affairs, I would be ever so grateful if someone would speak words of encouragement  to those I love on my behalf.
For this post, I will sign the name the Spirits know me by, Xwu'p'a'lich

PS  Sometimes I wonder if there is anyone out there reading my posts.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I couldn't finish my blog yesterday because emotions were running very strong.  I don't usually go around bragging about myself or my family, but I feel that I must acknowledge just how wonderful I think they are.  Holly Ann and Robert have been on the Red Road for only a short span of time.  Perhaps one or two years.  Both of them are acceptable drummers and they both have wonderful  singing voices.  Neither one of them is afraid to speak or sing in public which I think is great.
When they went to visit the young man yesterday they brought their drums with them with the intention of using them to bring joy to all those who were heavy hearted.  They sang for the family  at the hospital.  Then they went to the home of one of the people and cleansed it with sage from top to bottom.  Holly Ann walked through the house, using a feather to   fan the sacred smoke in all directions, while Robert followed behind singing good words to the Creator and the spirits.

When they left the house they placed a box that we prepare with everything for a personal altar.  As I think about it now,  the only thing I forgot to put in the box was directions on how to use it.   I guess I took it for granted that every body in the world knew how to use it.  When they were waiting in line for the ferry at Horseshoe Bay, the phone rang and it was Rocky calling to thank them for cleansing her house. Then she asked about the box with the altar pieces in it.  Holly Ann proceeded to explain how they were used, etc.  Robert was prompting from the background so she passed the phone to him and told him to continue.  He didn't miss a beat.  He proceeded to walk his friend through the steps.  When Holly Ann told me about all they had done I was so proud that I nearly popped a button on my shirt.  Smile.  I just thought everyone should know about this because they are learning to do important, needed work that helps settle people's spirit.  Thank you family, I'm proud of you.

Monday, February 28, 2011


I don't know what else to call this blog.  My heart feels heavy and the tears of empathy want to flow.  Would you like to know why I'm feeling this way?  Good.  Because I need to write so that I can explain it all to myself.

We moved down here from Yellowknife in 1993, after living out of province for a good number of years.  Our youngest daughter, Holly Ann and her two sons, Jared and Robert followed us home about a year later.  You're probably wondering why I'm giving all this information.  If you've read my last couple of posts you know about Holly Ann and her kids having to move their trailer to a new location.  Well, they lived in that trailer park for about ten years and of course they made many friends.
     One of those friends was Chris and her family.  Chris became one of Holly Ann's best friends and she is , also, close to Chris's children.  Chris's youngest son has two boys just about Robert's age.  The eldest boy and Robert and Cole called themselves the Three Musketeers because they got along so well.  Those boys travelled everywhere with Robert.  When we had birthday parties for Robert aboard our boat, Chris, Al, Sammy Jr., Heather and their two boys came along.  We had so much fun!  Those were the good old days that we can look back on with pleasant thoughts.

Life went along like that for quite awhile, but slowly we began to lose those we love.  First Al, Sammy Sr. and Chris.  We never ever thought that we would lose one of the youngsters.  A few days ago we learned that Sammy & Heather's oldest boy was having health problems.  His uncle Jerry brought the news to the Drumming Group and we have all been praying for him ever since.  Then - we were told that he has some rare form of cancer that has already moved to the 4th stage.  Our hearts were very heavy.  We will continue to pray for him because the Creator does perform many miracles.   
We have a family dinner every Sunday.  It gives us a chance to catch up on what's happening in each other's lives.  Holly Ann told every one about the young man with the cancer.  Robert was very moved by that news because this is his friend he's hearing about.  He said, "That's harsh."  I don't think he trusted himself to speak further at that time.  We discussed what we could/should do.  Robert said, "I'd like to go and see him while he is still alive."  Holly Ann agreed.  We all agreed that that was the best thing to do.

They went over today.  The young man is taking this tragedy very well.  He knows he is going to die very soon, and he seems to be at peace with that.  His younger brother is all mixed up with feelings of guilt and remorse.  I believe he said something like, "I don't know what to do.  I always fought with my brother.  I never thought he would die so soon.  I don't know what to do." I hope they will get someone to work with him through the grieving process.
    That's not the only bad luck that has touched that family's life.  Just a few days ago, the mother of the boy was spending all the time she could with her son.  Her own mother was feeling ill and Heather hadn't went to see her for a couple of days.  She asked her sister-in-law to stop in to check on her.  She did.  What she found was the women had died in the last couple of days.  That has to be weighing heavily on Heather, but there was nothing she could have done to prevent it.  I wish her to know that and not carry around a load of useless guilt.  The grandmother probably went ahead to prepare the way for her grandson. He will not be lonesome over there; he will have both of his grandmothers there with him.
   It's difficult to find something good about this type of news.  Perhaps the Creator is sending a message to all of us to let us know that the only thing we have is today.  There is no promise of tomorrow.  Now I know why my dad told me to plan your life like you're going to live forever, and live it like you're going to die today.  If we do that we will have far less stress and remorse to deal with.
Before I close this, I feel that I should say that I have the utmost respect for the young man's aunt Rocky, who is there at all times helping to make things better for him.  In fact, she's always there whenever a family member or friend needs her.  She is a wonderful human being and a good role model for the rest of  us.  I hope I have not offended anyone with this post, because that was not my intention.

Friday, February 25, 2011


PHEW!! What a title, huh?  But that is what it is called.  Life is so busy that sometimes it is difficult just to select one thing to talk about.  I will attempt to limit myself. 
You may have noticed the name Parker up there in the title.  He is the son of my son and he is named for his grandfather, Richard, whose nickname used to be "Parky".
Parker is now staying with Holly Ann and Robert.  He is going to be attending school in Sechelt very soon.  He had nowhere else to go, so is the usual Higgins manner, Holly Ann has taken him in.  Sometimes that old saying about putting another tin of water in the soup is too true.

So far, this is what the Event  looks like.  It will be held at the Sechelt Indian Band community hall in Sechelt on March 26, 2011.  That is also my 78th birthday.  Please don't think you have to bring a birthday gift.  Just bring something for the silent auction.

Marlene, who dreamed up this whole event, will over-see the whole shebang, and if you know Marlene, you know she will do a wonderful job.

Justin is in charge of making posters and advertising the event.  Way to go, Justin!

Jared, Holly Ann's eldest son,  is in charge of the kitchen.  He will require helpers, so please sign up right away.  There will be food of course, both traditional and other.  There will be a bake sale, so buy lots and freeze them for your lunches over the next few weeks. 

There will be Drumming and Singing; and hopefully, some dancing. You won't want to miss this!!

Temahtahnah will be telling Kid's Stories, for kids of all ages.

Barb will be telling a couple of her Elder Tales.  Come out and laugh and cry along with us.

There will be a 50/50 draw managed by Cindy lee.

Hannah will look after Silent Auction.

Jan has donated two fabulous wooden bowls crafted from wood from the Sunshine Coast.  They are wonderful.

Ed has donated one of his framed prints. 

Joah is canvassing for items for the Silent Auction, so come on folks, dig down.

Denise is baking up a Storm for the bake sale; she could use lots of help, guys.

There will be a humongous Raffle -these are just a few of the prizes so far.  There is a beautifully crafted traditional Red Cedar Hat, a Beaded Purse that is a marvelous creation, A hand painted 20 inch  drum by the portrait artist Olivia Candelle. The picture on the drum is Barb's canoe The S-yewens Ihems Sila ( which means the Spirits of our Grandmothers).  There a huge mysterious, shamanistic oil painting of the Indian stories that are up there for all to behold.( If you know what to look for.) 
That's all for to-night, folks.  Pleasant dreams.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I am writing this because I could think of no other way to portray the feeling of humility I experienced yesterday.  Jim and Judi White, two of my dear  friends, hosted a healing circle for me, to bolster my spirit for my up-coming surgery.   It was held in the usual Indian tradition, with gifted medicine people and helpers, and well-wishers that took part at every step of the way.  It also  means it was a pot-luck affair with everyone contributing towards the whole.  The dinner was delicious, and the feeling of camaraderie was touching and gratefully received by this woman.

I was actually astounded to see the number of people who attended this ceremony.  Many of them travelled from Vancouver to attend, and the underlying message from all was - Accept the strength of the Creator, and accept our wishes of good will and a return to good health.  They gave me symbolic icons of the strength, good will, love, respect, and a quick return to the front line for the  on-going battle between darkness and light.  Which is another way of saying we are backing the good guys and hoping that the others will turn over a new leaf and join us.

If I could have addressed them  before they dispersed, this is what I would have said. 


            My heart is full.  The bird that resides in my chest is singing so loudly that I believe you must be able to hear it.  Can you hear it?   Tears are close to the surface of my eyes but I withhold them because I want everyone to be happy.  I believe that  the bird  is my connection to the Creator, and regardless of what is happening in the world around me, if the bird is singing, it is His promise that everything is A-okay.
            I wish to thank every one of you for coming out to make this a splendid day, and I want to thank Jim & Judi White for hosting this Circle.  Thank you to Seis lom, Wes Nahanee, Robrt Higgins, Leslie, for the medicine and to the drummers and singers for filling our hearts with thanksgiving and love.  I feel that that is exactly what you did yesterday, and we all needed it and appreciate it.
            When I look around the room, and take note of all you people who have my best interests at heart, I acknowledge what a prosperous woman I am.  Perhaps I cannot pile up millions of dollars of this world’ wealth, but that is only because I have something much more precious.  I have friends and family who respect me and the feeling is mutual.  I sense, that together, we can do astronomical things here on the Sunshine Coast.  The time is now.
            Many things have lead up to this day;  A day that is going to fuse and forge us together in a manner that will be of benefit to all the people of the Sunshine Coast.  As previously stated, when I look around and perceive the caliber of people who are here in this room, I have great hope for the future.   Perhaps, I am prophesying.  Together we are strong.  Together we will build a firm foundation upon which future generations can build.   The only thing required for success is lots of people- taking small steps -that will advance the good deeds and good works we are all performing in the name of light.  It’s time for every last one of us to stand back-to-back and force the darkness and bad actions into oblivion.
            We can do it.  We just have to be consistent and leave nothing to chance.
These are a few of the items that we are presently working at.  Some of these things are crucial to the well-being of every person of the Coast. As Seis lom, our Elder, has stated it is our responsibility to look to the welfare of humanity, the winged people, the four-leggeds and the swimmers.  That takes in aspects of all forms of life as we know it here on Mother Earth, doesn't it?  As members of various groups. we are all working on one or all of the following projects.
1.                  The Chapman Creek Watershed and the stand of ancient yellow cedar trees that are presently ensuring that the water is retained up there. We must protect it and never allow it to be logged.
2.                  The Red Cedar Hat making project.  If you sign up right away, Teah mah tah nah will take over the teaching.  I am still unable to do this myself, and I have complete confidence in Te. I can just see our pullers all sporting a hat, traditional or otherwise.
3.                  The Helping Hands for Holly Ann & Robert Higgins.  A moving fundraiser. This is being sponsored by people from many walks of life. And we are seeking volunteer-help and contributions for auctions, raffles, you name it. I have no idea how much is needed for this, but it is more than they are able to come up with on their own.
4.                  The Pulling Together 2011, journey to the West Coast of Vancouver Island. We require about $3000 for that venture.

I’m wondering if we can join a few of these events together ?  If we did that it  would expand our base of volunteers and we would be able to cover more ground.   It’s just a thought.  The decision isn't mine.  Tell me what you think of this?

And last of all I bring up my upcoming surgery which is to take place on March 9.  I have Put-it-on-the-Wind to see what the Creator has to say about it.  I have felt from the beginning that I wasn’t going to require an operation on my left hip.  To me, that meant that the Creator was going to fix it.  He still may do just that.  I have put off the decision for surgery until after February 21st when I have that hip x-rayed.  Perhaps it will show that there is no need for surgery, but if it doesn’t. I will proceed with the surgery.  If it means that I shall soon walk with the spirits, so be it.  Then I will get on with the next phase of existence. I ask that you intervene on my behalf for this miracle I am requesting and expecting.
I guess that’s all for now
I’m pleased to have this wonderful memory to hold onto. 
Ul numsh Chalap,  Xwu’p’a’lich Barb Higgins

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


My family and me are soooo fortunate.  Our Nuclear Family extends, like a humongous octopus's  legs,  over the length and breadth of Turtle Island.  AND - the good thing about it is that  there are people of many races and creeds who make up this family.
Now, this is the  latest wonderful thing that they are doing.  My youngest daughter and her son, Robert, suffered a fire two years ago.  Not from any negligence on their part; a stranger, with a large hate on for the world, torched their trailer and three or four other places on the same day.  It was a severe blow and they haven't really made it back to the same footing they enjoyed before the fire.  They are a single parent family with the mother on a disability pension and the son attending school full time. 
The trailer park they live in is being closed down, so they have to move to another one.  This is very costly and without any expertise in such matters it is very scary.   Then, a few days ago, a friend from The Red Cedar Drum Group, who also attends my drum group, asked if they could host a benefit or fundraiser to help them.  I hadn't even thought of such a thing, even though I had been present at a number of them that took place over the years.  Of course, that was in the 1930's and 1940's, back when people still had a sense of community, and everyone helped and looked-out for their neighbor.

.  Our entire community would turn out, and they would put on a dance, along with a pot-luck supper and they had a meeting where they decided what should be done.  Everybody took part and everyone donated what they could afford.  In those days it was called Passing the Blanket, and that is exactly what we did.  A blanket was laid on the floor and people dug into their pockets and walked up to the blanket  and  placed their money and list of other things they were willing to take responsibility for doing.  IE: one such piece of paper may have read, "I will donate a set of dishes or a table or . . .  Something that would fit in with the type of disaster they were alleviating.  The Speaker would have his helper collect the money and the slips of paper.  They usually counted  the money, and noted in a book all the promises so that they kept a current list of needs still outstanding. Sometimes they had more then one meeting before they were able to solve all the problems.  i recall that the Japanese people that lived on the far side of Egmont always dug down and helped the community where ever they were able.  Even people from Sechelt, Pender Harbour, St. Vincent Bay, Blind Bay, Goliath Bay, and many of the other outer settlements done what they could.

In this case,  they require  people who know how to help with getting the trailer ready to move, and cash to pay for all the  things that must be done to make the trailer ready, then the actual moving, and the laying of a trailer pad at the new location.  The disconnecting and re-connecting of all services.  It's a huge headache when you don't know what you are doing.  I guess we will learn, though.

We had our Drumming Group meeting tonight and we sang beautifully because our hearts were filled with love and good feelings.  We discussed the Benefit or Fundraiser, and began delegating sections of things to do to specific people.  There are still people required to do certain things, and we need people to canvass the community for donations for Silent Auction, Raffle, Bake Sale items, people to cook for the dinner part of the happening.  There are many other things I have not touched on, but I have faith they will be filled when the right person hears about it.

This event will take place on March 26, 2011, which is also my birthday.   It will be held at the SIB community hall.  They are not charging for the use of the hall.  It is one of the ways our band helps its members. 
We plan to have entertainment, traditional food and other types, I will tell a couple of stories, and Temahtana will tell stories to the kids.  This is just the beginning.  We want to have a Round Dance, drumming and singing, etc.  It should be  quite an event.  You won't want to miss it.  I'll report on the next segment as it comes due.

Monday, February 7, 2011


  I wrote this essay in 2005, and I introduced it to a group of people from all the communities on the Sechelt Peninsula.  It was well received because people need something to hope for and to believe in.  With all the "things" that have happened to this family, we still retain the dream. And six years later, we are ready to take up the torch the Creator has placed in our hands, and if you will walk beside us, we will do our very best to build a canoe family the Sunshine Coast will be proud of.
I'm beginning to think that I have an obsession with canoes.  I can't seem to get them out of my mind.  I even wake up in the middles of the night and think about canoes.  Strange.  Why canoes?  Why not cars? or airplanes?
     The answer is quite simple.  Canoes have always been the backbone of the life-style of the Sechelt People.  We are the people of The Big Water and we live by The Salish Sea.
     The Ancient Ones came to look upon canoes as healers, not that they could heal a physical illness or disease, but they have a way of helping us deal with whatever is bothering us.
     The moment One steps into a canoe our life begins to change for the better. 
You experience a sense of rejuvenation and spiritual healing that sparks to life almost immediately. 
If you reflect upon it - it's very much like one of those sparklers that kids are so fond of lighting up on Halloween night. 
You can feel the glow and warmth as it floods your entire being. 
 It feels like a spiritual experience because it is.  
The wind, the air, the sun, or rain, all join in to begin healing your very soul. 
 It begins on the epidermis or skin level of your body. 
You can actually feel the calming, healing balm when it makes contact with your skin.
 Just like a match that is dropped into a field of tiner-dry grass, you will feel it sweep over your body. 
It will penetrate each layer of your being until it reaches the very marrow of your bones. 
 An inner stillness, a quiet contentment begins to take hold of you, and you are at peace with the sea and with yourself. 
You take in a couple of big draughts of air and you can feel LIFE traveling through your stystem. 
 You feel stronger.  You are stronger.  You begin to feel whole again.  You begin to look forward to a challenge.
     You take up a paddle in your hand, and it is just an extension of your arm; it feels so natural. 
You dip the blade into the sea and the water speaks to your soul. 
Can you hear what it is saying? 
Do you think it's an accident that some churches have what they call holy water
They took the idea from Aboriginal People who knew and understood the true meaning of Holy Water. 
Dip your hand into the sea and it will immediately sense the make-up of your DNA and it will bond with you. 
You just need to be open to receive this great gift.  It can be a most humbling experience.
 You may want to cry or laugh or act giddy. 
It is different for each individual, but rest assured, it will nudge you towards the correct action for you.

    Canoes were important because there were no other ways of travelling or sending messages available to us.  There were just our canoes.  We used a canoe for everything.
When  messages needed to be distributed in the olden days,  a canoe and paddlers were dispatched to deliver it; and it didn't matter how far away the message had to travel.  Sometimes it took months for the messengers to deliver the news.  canoes were the backbone of our communities.  They brought us good news and they brought us sad news, but we were always informed of what was happening all over the British Columbia coast.
     The same thing could be said of any group of people that needed to move around the Province in those days of long ago.  It would have been impossible to walk everywhere, given our many mountain ranges, so the government agents, the RCMP, the Hudson Bay Co. and ordinary citizens utilized the Indian canoe as a means of travel.  It made sense to those people who knew next to nothing about surviving in such a inhospitable environment.  The Indian canoe must have been a great blessing to those people.  I wonder if they ever got around to thanking those that introduced them to the canoe?
     So, you see, perhaps my preoccupation with canoes isn't really obsessive, it's just a needful step in the right direction. 
Use your imagination for a moment and consider this:
If our habitat, which is the Sunshine Coast was a single, living entity, it would be struggling to survive because of the way we abuse it with drugs, alcohol and needless violence. 
It would be to the benefit of every person from Egmont to Langdale to be concerned for the health and welfare of this Friendly Giant that we call home.
We NEED to begin HEALING the wounds our Habitat is suffering from. 
We need to make a concerted fight against the abuse of drugs, alcohol and violence. 
We MUST salvage our young people or there will be no tomorrow or future for the human race, as we know it. 
We are going to hell in a hand basket as the saying goes.
 It's time for every single person, regardless of age, color or religion to say,
     I believe that if we all do that, and follow through by helping the clubs and organizations that are already in place to fulfill their mandates of building a better community, it would be a giant step in the right direction. 
We require a lot of people taking small steps to accomplish astronomical deeds. 
There is no telling how much good we could do if we didn't care who got the credit. 
I believe, I believe, I believe.

     Instead of going to doctors and other medical practitioners for ways to save our youth and young people, let's  take up the challenge ourselves. 
Let's heal ourselves while we seeks ways to heal the horrendous disease that is spreading throughout every small community and settlement on the Sunshine Coast. 
We know the disease is called drugs, alcohol, and violence, and we must stand firm and deal with it at the grassroots level. 
This is our home, and we must pluck out the bad things that are trying to grow in our backyards.
Sometimes this can mean that there are two or three generations of addicts or alcoholics in one family. 
This is sad but true, and sometimes they are also the pushers who set out to entangle and snare others so that they can pay for their own habit. 
We have to mean business, the future of our way of life depends upon it. 
It it comes right down to it - there must be a way that we can run these undesirables out of town on a rail.

When I asked the Shishalh Elders to spell and help me pronounce the name of my canoe club, they said, "It sounds like a Family - not just a club."  Of course, I agreed with them, and from that moment onward I have thought of it as a canoe family.
This canoe family will be honourable and have integrity so that it will attract,
  • Children and youth
  • Young adults and adults of all ages
  • Elders and Senior Citizens
  • The handicapped
Now, I believe that takes in the entire population of the Sunshine Coast, doesn't it? 
Can you visualize the healing power of a canoe family that touches and draws upon the whole population of the Coast for support?  It would soon put the Sunshine Coast on the map of the world as a leader at ways of saving our youth and young people.

Why do we need a Canoe Family?
We all know the reasons this Canoe Family is needed. 
Many of us are afraid to state out loud our hopes and desires for the health and welfare of our youth, and the continuation of our species. 
I really believe that circumstances are becoming that serious.  But, instead of mentioning only the negative things that are happening in our backyard, I will attempt a positive solution.

     It's a well known fact that there are fewer paying jobs for kids and young people to apply for these days.  How are they going to acquire experience if they aren't given the opportunity to gain it?  We need to make concrete plans to help them gain meaningful employment that they can be proud of.  It seems that one of the places we can make a difference in is recreation and tourism.   Let's roll up our sleeves, educate our young people and show them how to make a living without leaving their home town or the Sunshine Coast.  (Unless they want to.)  These are the facts as I see them.

1.   Kids and youth don't get enough exercise to keep their mind and body fit.  It's unrealistic to think that we can produce healthy children if we feed them only junk food, fail to give their bodies sufficient exercise, and don't give them the opportunity to see the larger picture.  The Sunshine Coast is a gorgeous place to live, with miles upon miles of coast to explore, inlets to discover and islands to navigate around.  While they are still young, we can open their minds to possibilities.  Let them see that if we all work together there is hope for the future.  Couldn't we use an injection of Hope in our lives and our Society?  I know I can.

2.   Young people need a challenge, something to strive towards.  Goodness knows they don't have any heroes to look up to.  Our politicians, movie moguls and everybody else have lost their way.  They've lost touch with reality.  There are no heroes left, and that is a great pity.  There is no one for them to emulate.  We've got to give them something to believe in, something to strive towards.  We can't produce a hero out of thin air, so we must move in another direction.

3.   We could begin by teaching them about the Coast.  We don't need macho competitions, just friendly competition that will teach them skill, endurance, strength, tolerance, stamina, leadership, staying power, and a reverence for the sea.  Do you think I'm expecting too much?  We have the better part of two worlds in this area.  We have the open sea on the Sechelt waterfront, and the protection of Sechelt Inlet on the other side.  I get really excited when I think about the potential.
First, we must teach them the basics about canoes, navigation, tide movements, winds and currents, the most important aspects of life upon the Salish Sea.  It can't be just work, work, work.  There must be some fun involved to keep them motivated.
Later, they can begin earning certificates that will benefit them; such as small craft navigation, First Aid or Food Safety.  The sort of certificates that will make them more employable for after school jobs, summer jobs, or to bring their own free enterprise into existence.  This will give them a sense of worth, and they could find themselves in demand.  Perhaps this isn't enough, but it is more then they now have.  Perhaps you have a better idea that you would like to share?

4.   People of all ages have certain areas of expertise, and a desire to share their knowledge while strengthening their own bodies.  Some people already possess certificates that will allow us to have professionals aboard our canoes.  I believe that we should be able to hire them at a fair wage, and we will be contributing to the financial welfare of the Sunshine Coast.  Please help me to research this topic more thoroughly as it isn't one of my strong points.
I note that Elders must flex their physical muscles to make themselves stronger.  Their heads are full of knowledge and lore that can be taught to people of all ages.  Elders will begin to feel better about themselves as they regularly exercise their bodies.  IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO LIVE LONGER - IF THE LIFE YOU LIVE IS NOT FULFILLING.  LIVING FOR THE SAKE OF LIFE ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH; WE NEED A CHALLENGE OR LIFE BECOMES MEANINGLESS.

5. The same is true of the Senior Citizens.  I don't know why they aren't called Elders, because that is exactly what many of them are.  They can teach about kitchen gardens, gathering mushrooms, making teas from garden plants, and much more.  There are numerous old timers at the SENIOR CITIZENS' CENTRE who are literally withering on the vine.  They have much to contribute and their knowledge and expertise is being wasted. What a wonderful resource they would be/

6.   I'm certain the people and organizations responsible for the well-being of the handicapped will welcome a Canoe Family that will cater to their needs.  It's an idea.  What do you think?
There are numerous hands-on arts and crafts that can be taught to the handicapped.  Begin listing your suggestions.  We'll probably be surprised at how much these people can learn and teach us in return.  I've probably neglected to think of a number of things; please, make a note of any over-sight I have made.

FIRST   This is the way I visualize my Canoe Family.  It needs a name that reflects its close proximity to the Sechelt Nation, and our desire to be of service to all the people of the Sunshine Coast.

It has to be a name that people can pronounce, and because this is my idea I believe that it should have the name "Grandmother" or "Great Grandmother", or a word that somehow refers to women who are the Life-Givers in its title.

On the nuclear scale, it would engender a feeling of family and belonging that all races, creeds and colors require to feel whole.  After all, in the Creator's eye we are all One.

I have selected this name for my future canoe family.  It will be called S-YEWEN IHEMS SILA CANOE FAMILY, which means, THE SPIRIT OF OUR GRANDMOTHERS CANOE FAMILY, and it is pronounced like this "See-wins-thums-say-la."
I believe that we need this canoe family just as much as we need food, water and oxygen.

SECOND   This Canoe Family must remain free of obligation to all organizations.  Too often we have heard the same old same old . . . You know the one?  This person doesn't qualify because our group is funded with DIA funds, or . . . We've all heard them.  I want to steer clear of that.  in order to do that our Canoe Family should be run like an ordinary business, and make enough money to pay our employees a decent wage with minimum benefits.  We will require a top-notch  Fundraiser, or maybe two fundraisers.  One to work on provincial or federal level while the other can make the Sunshine Coast their priority.  This is going to take lots of thought, but I feel that it can be done.

THIRD   Whom shall we hire to man the canoes?  We will hire only people with good reputations who don't have drinking or drug habits.  There are a number of them who already have the necessary certificates, such as Life Guards, Coaches, Counsellors, Small Boat Safety, First Aid, and others.  The Navigator in each canoe must have a first hand knowledge of the winds and tides of the Sechelt Inlet and the Georgia Strait, and the pullers in the front seat should be in sync with him/her.  We can talk more about this later.  Ed Hill has already forwarded valuable information on this subject, and has offered his and Fred's services when the time comes.
If we do this correctly, we will have a full crew of paying customers on every trip.  All positions will be open to both genders.  Every canoe requires a Navigator.  We should have a young person in training aboard each canoe.  We want to have graduates who will fill the positions as they become available. We will have a set of rules or hoops that they must get through in order to earn the Certificate that will be awarded to worthwhile candidates.  This must be a straightforward, useful position they are working towards, something with merit that will engender pride in their accomplishment and help make them more employable.

   I have a B. Ed Degree from the University of Victoria, so I am qualified.  We should work with the schools so that portions of our Canoe Family's life skills will satisfy the school curriculum to earn graduation credits.  Think about this and see what you come up with.  Possibly something to do with Ecological Studies, Nature Studies, Marine Studies, Cultural Enrichment or Native Awareness.  There are numerous other possibilities.  List any that you think of and submit them to me.


   Fall and winter can be rough on the water, so we should have other worthwhile activities to teach in those time periods.  We should begin seeking out people who have expertise in outdoor sports, physical workouts, swimming lessons, kayak people may want to become involved, Women from the Dragon Boats, Pulling Together, Vision Quest, Tribal Journey, camping, mountaineering, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snow shoeing.  There are so many things we could become involved with.  Make a list of things we can teach that have little or nothing to do with canoes or the sea.  Ruby Lake and Sakinaw Lake are quite large.  Perhaps we could work them into our program in some way?  Just a thought.

  For those who may not want such a strenuous work out, we could teach them how to recognize, pick, dry, process or make juice with the tons of berries that are going to waste on our mountains each year.  Those berries, and many more gifts from Nature could be turned into delicious fruit leather or they could be dried for winter use in muffins and pies.  There are scads of other ideas that I haven't yet thought of, and I wager that you will come up with some dandies.
We could teach them about the shellfish that can be gathered from the beaches.  We could learn to dig clams and cockles and to harvest  mussels.  We could learn to gather and shuck oysters.  We could learn to process them and store them for winter use; we could learn to smoke and dry any or all of these items.  IT IS CALLED SUSTAINABLE LIVING.
Mushroom identification, gathering and processing.
Evergreen buyers buy leaves and  grand fir, noble pine and mountain hemlock boughs during the winter season.
We could teach them about harvesting small animals and birds for pleasure with a camera or for food.
We could teach them to use a compound bow.
We could teach them how to go up the mountains to gather the items required for making inner cedar bark hats, baskets and regalia.  We could teach them how to make all of those items.
We could teach them how to dig cedar roots, how to care for them, how to bundle them, how to make coiled cedar baskets.
We could teach them how to make Christmas decorations from Nature.

   When I originally wrote this essay I still didn't have a canoe. When we returned from the 2008, Pulling Together Journey, where I served as camp Elder, I did what I call PUTTING IT ON THE WIND. 
That simply means that I asked the Creator to move in that regard. 
"I believe in simple solutions.  Creator, If I am to move on the path you have set for me, I will need a canoe before next summer. I believe I'm supposed to have a number of canoes plus support vessels. I've never done this before, but you must believe that I'm capable or you wouldn't lay this burden upon my heart.  I  leave it in your hands."
 We were at the campgrounds in Gibsons when I first did this.  I didn't tell anyone what I  had done because I wanted the Creator to be able to move freely without me trying to influence Him in any way.

 In September of 2008, I received my first canoe as a gift of love from the Rusty & Diane Ashworth Family. It was barely 3 months since Putting it On the Wind.  In fact, I have since learned they ordered the manufacture of the Northern Dancer Canoe just two short weeks after I'd placed my request On The Wind. That's good enough for me, I believe that I'm doing what the Creator expects of me - so the rest will come to pass as it should.  I also believe that the people I need to get this colossal undertaking under way will make themselves known to me in the near future.
Health problems inundated me, but I believe I have them on the mend now.  I am, again, ready to apply myself to setting up  this Canoe Family.
Just as I already mentioned, I called my club THE S-YEWENS IHEM SILA CANOE FAMILY, which means THE SPIRITS OF OUR GRANDMOTHERS CANOE FAMILY. 
This summer we travel to the west coast of Vancouver Island; our first time in the vast waters of the Pacific Ocean.  We have been fortunate over the past two years with a tried and true Skipper (Fred) and an excellent crew of pullers.  My youngest grandson, Robert, is now learning to be a Navigator and our Skip for this summer is Marilyn.  She has many years and much experience of plying a paddle on the oceans of the world.
I do hope that I shall hear from someone who has read my blog someday.  (a wistful desire.) 

Friday, February 4, 2011


I'm moving too fast. 
I'm getting ahead of myself, I think I should tell you a bit about him.  Richard was a man's man, tough as nails but with a heart that was so tender it left him open to being injured by thoughtless people. 
Just to demonstrate that point I'll tell you a great big secret.  Rich didn't like it to be well-known, but he actively traded romance and love stories with our daughter, Holly-Ann.  I wager that there aren't that many fathers around who have such a relationship with their daughter.
Rich was raised on Lasqueti Island which is situated out in Georgia Straits.  His father was English and Sechelt Indian, his mother was English and Squamish Indian.  Unfortunately, Rich took after his English blood so he was fair skinned and gray eyed.  Most of his brothers and sisters took after their Indian blood.  Rich and his siblings were stoned when they attended school on Lasqueti. Why?  Because they were Indians, of course.  Because of that,  Rich always had a love for Indian people  from every port on the B.C. coast and he knew many of them.  He was  non-status Indian, but he had friends in every major Indian tribe from here to the Alaska Border. And those Indian fishermen from all those different communities taught him how to fish in their territory.  They showed him their pet spots that they didn't want other fishermen to know about.

I have done genealogy and family history  research all of my life because my mother, grandparents and great grandparents said it was important. When the change in attitude took place in 1985, and non-status people were bumped up to being status, I was happy for Rich's sake.  He really wanted to be legally recognized as an Indian person born in British Columbia.  I haunted archives, museums and libraries all over B.C. seeking the information that we knew existed somewhere.  Of course, the government could have helped with this but they never did.  They always make everything as difficult as they possibly can.
 At the age of 80 years Rich endured 25 day of radiation therapy simultaneously with 25 days chemo therapy/   He fought valiantly, but it was a losing battle.  The doctors discovered that both of his legs were a mass of clotted veins.  They made him lie on his back and move very little while they administered vitamin K by intravenous and coumadin orally.   He was a ray of sunshine on that floor where every patient was one blink away from death.  He kept the patients and staff in good humor.  That was his great gift to care about people and put them at ease.
The disease backed-off for a few month,  we returned home, but then it came back stronger then ever.  Rich decided that he would not further kill his body by submitting to radiation and chemo therapy.  So, we knew he would die fairly rapidly.
THIS WAS MY POOPSIE:  One day I went up to St. Marys Hospital to visit him, it was a beautiful day.  I sat by the bed and we were holding hands.  He looked at me with such love in his eyes that I felt that if I had to speak I would have stammered and stuttered like a moon-struck teenager.  He kissed the back of my hand and looked into my eyes and said, "Mummy, I know that you are many years younger than I am and that you have needs.   I want you to know that it will be okay with me if you want to do something about them."  I was shocked!  I was flabbergasted!  I answered.  "Poopsie, maybe you haven't looked at me well enough, lately.  I'm 71 years old and well past any such needs or desires."  "Not to me, Mummy, you'll always look like the beautiful girl I married fifty years ago."  Do you see what I mean?  How can I easily forget someone who loved me so much? And whom I loved in return.
I'll move along.

In 2004, my husband lay in a coma-like state in the Garden Inn, and I still hadn't obtained his Indian status for him.  He didn't care one hoot about benefits - but he'd been stoned for his Indian blood and he wanted to be recognized as an Indian before he died.  And the Creator heard and answered his wish.  Finally, two days before my husband died, he received a letter from the Mandarins in Ottawa stating that his right to be an Indian was recognized, and he could join either  Sechelt or Squamish.  I was so happy to receive that news.  I knew he was going to die at any moment, but at least he would die as an Indian brave should.

I brought the letter to his room where he lay staring at the ceiling.  He hadn't spoken or moved for two or three days.  He could hear when I spoke to him.  We set up the signal of one blink for 'no' and two blinks for 'yes'.  His room was crowded with family and friends as I read the letter to him.  I asked if he understood and he blinked twice.  Then I said, "  Poopsie, I want you to know that I am proud to be your wife.  I am glad that we have had these past 50 years together.  I couldn't have found a better mate. Poopsie, your body has been destroyed by this disease.  You can never be the man you have always been. If I were you, this is what I would do. 
"Remember what I told you about  the night sky?   Look for the Milky Way because according to the tales our people tell, that is  the encampment of the Shishalh People who have died and crossed over the River of Hope . It is the after-life home of our ancestors.   All those stars that are jumbled together are the Well of Forever.  All those stars we see are their campfires which  they have lit to guide us to the encampment of our Fathers across the River of Hope.  We have the promise of our ancestors that the last Shishalh shall arrive safely home before the last campfire is extinguished.   Remember your mother and father, and everyone who has ever loved you are waiting for you on the other side with their arms spread wide.

Now, that you are recognized as an Indian brave, you just make your death cry or war whoop,  and tell them "Beware!  For a Shishalh warrior has died today." - AND at that point I did the Hollywood version of a war whoop - "and you will find the canoe of souls and its navigator waiting to take you across the River of Hope.  When I made the war whoop his mouth stretched into a really huge, soundless smile.  I knew he understood what I meant.  The people present were astonished at my forthrightness and honesty, but that is how Rich and I had always communicated. There was no beating around the bush with us.

The next afternoon, as my niece, Linda, and I were making our way back to Sechelt, I told her that I thought I would arrange a religious service for Richard for that evening at 7 pm.  Holly Ann was spending the night with her father.  We never left him alone; someone was with him every minute in case he woke up.  We didn't want him to feel abandoned.
She was sitting in a chair on the side of the bed where she could hold her father's right hand.  Now, remember, Rich has not moved a muscle for a couple of days.  He has two medicine bags and an eagle feather laying across his chest.  Gifts from family and friends.  Holly Ann is reading to him, holding her book in her right hand and holding her father's hand with her other.  I telephoned and told her what I was arranging, so of course, Rich heard every word.  She continued reading for another fifteen minutes when she felt her father's left hand take hold of her hand and remove it from holding his right hand.  She was startled because he hadn't moved for so long.  He reached over with his left hand and gathered the medicine bags and eagle feather to the centre of his chest.  Then he gazed up at the ceiling, again, and proceeded to shake hands with five different people or spirits that Holly Ann could not see, then his mouth grew large just like he made his war whoop and he died.  Just like that.
He wasn't a religious man, but he was a spiritual man.  I believe he decided to die rather then stay for a service he didn't believe in.  He died at 6pm on July 21, 2004.

Even though I was expecting his death,  it has taken me 6.5 years to begin to come out of the grieving process that has gripped both Holly Ann and me.  I am beginning to feel like my brain is waking up again, and I am ready to make tracks down the
Red Road

There are other anecdotes that I will reveal to you later.
I must get The Spirits of Our Grandmothers Canoe Family up and running this year.  I need to attract people who will be able to help me accomplish this.  I believe they are here and are just waiting to be asked to step up to the plate.  If you know of someone who is looking for a challenge that will be a huge benefit to their community, please, direct them to me and my canoe family.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I wanted to write about canoes, but I feel that I must show you where these thoughts and ideas come from.  Sometimes it takes a long time  until  the pieces of one's life are in the position where the Creator is able to work with us.  Don't misunderstand me.  I'm not saying He couldn't work with us whenever He wanted to, but remember that free will He has bestowed upon every one?  He wants us to make a choice and take responsibility for whatever we do in life.  Well!  Come hell or high water, as the old saying goes, I have long ago learned to make my decisions and to stand by them even when they are extremely unpopular.

Why am I making tracks down this trail?  It's not because I have a great desire to do so. It's because my grandparents and my great grandparents have pointed me in this direction, and it's because I have stopped digging my heels into the ground, fighting against the Creator.  Now, I'm finally ready to give this venture my best shot.   Creator, I surrender!
This is how it all began.

Well, in the year 2002, I thought I was ready to begin fulfilling the destiny I had felt called to since I was less then 10 years old. All of my life I have been gathering knowledge and writing the stories I've felt compelled to write.  Now, I was ready to do something about publishing or . . ."   I spoke out loud, "I'm ready to begin fulfilling my destiny."  I wasn't speaking to anyone in particular, I just needed to say it out loud because then it felt more real to me. In fact, there was nobody around to hear me.  At least that's what I thought.  But, destiny  was listening and began to unfold my future in a way I hadn't visualized.

A local theatre company was in the process of putting on a play about the people of the Coast.  I hadn't heard about it, but one day I received a telephone call from my cousin asking for permission to submit my name to that group of actors.  I thought about it for a couple minutes, remembering,  as an instructor I had 'put on' many plays in schools from here to the NWT.  BUT . . . I hadn't acted in  any of the plays.  Hmmm. I've never done this before.  I'm 72 years old, I guess I can't learn any younger. My decision was made.

I called her back and said I'd like to participate.  In turned out that the play was very near completion ,and I believe someone had dropped out leaving a void, and it was this void they wished me to fill.  Long story short,  I filled the role and everything turned out great.  My part was more story telling then acting.  The audience laughed and cried as they moved through the segments of my life.  At the conclusion of the evening I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a beaded eagle feather from my niece, Linda,  and her daughter,Laurena.  I was touched that they honored me in such a manner. And I thought Well, at least I'm moving in the direction I wanted to travel.

The next day, my husband and I were preparing for a visit to our son who lived in Edmonton. We were all packed up and ready to go when the Creator said, "Wait."  Nothing more, just "wait".  I told my husband that we had to wait for awhile before we could leave.  He wanted to know why and I told him because the Creator said so.  He was okay with that because this had happened numerous times throughout our 49 years of marriage.  We waited and we waited. About thirteen days had passed and we were still waiting.   The Band delivered sockeye salmon so we got right to work and began canning and smoking salmon. 
The next day was very hot.  I was working in the yard when I heard the Dickey Dee Ice Cream Truck coming down the street.  I walked out to flag it down, it pulled over, the driver got out and looked at me.  She didn't say anything.  She turned around and reentered the truck.  She came back out putting on her jacket.  She said, "You're Barb Higgins aren't you?"  I nodded wondering what this was all about.  She said, "I have something for you."  She handed me a note from a person I'd never heard of before that day.   I was reading the note and the driver said, "I've been trying to deliver that note to you for two weeks."  Plink, plink, the pieces began to fall in place.
I telephoned the woman who had written the note. She lived in Vancouver; her name was Lynna.  She said she'd been at the Playhouse and saw my performance and she wanted to work with me.  She was an actress, a director and many other things.  She wasn't in when I called, so I left a message.  I returned to my canning.  I was emptying a large pressure cooker when the telephone rang.  I couldn't answer it so my husband did.  It was the woman.  I told him to tell  her to call back in half an hour.She did.  And because I'm not into bragging, I will leave that portion of the story out.  I have been writing stories for years and I had made up my mind that I wanted to get them published and to make a couple of Cd's. We met and decided to do a couple of story telling performances and to put together a CD of stories.

  We put on a couple story telling sessions in Vancouver at Granville Island and the Firehouse Theatre and we made a story telling CD called CARMEN REMEMBERS. Everything was proceeding just the way I had visualized,  when my husband became ill with cancer.  For the next couple of years my life was a living hell.It is a difficult thing to watch the one your soul is fused to deteriorate and fail.    It is an awful thing to watch the person you have been married to for more then 50 years began to fall apart from an enemy that was so strong and small and  invincible.  There was nothing I could do to save my husband. My own health began to deteriorate as well.  Subconsciously, I was willingly beginning to shut down because Rich and I had always said that we wanted to die at the same time. But, it was not to be.  The Creator did not clear me to proceed onto the next phase of existence.  He expects me to fulfill my destiny. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I am solely responsible for my own life and well being.
(If I'm not happy and at peace with myself, it is up to me, and
me alone, to discover the causes and take action.)

I have the authority to take full charge of my life,
to think, say and do anything I choose.

There is a price for everything I do.  It is up to me to determine
such price and decide whether or not I am able and willing to pay
for it.

I am responsible for everything I do, for I will gain or suffer
according to the consequences of my every act.


I like this poem because it says it all; there is nowhere for us to hide behind infirm resolves.  It makes us think about what we are going to do.
My father often told me that the only thing I had in the world was my good name and it is up to me to keep it that way.  Sometimes it is difficult and unpopular to do this, but I have remained true to his advice.


I want to share this prayer with you.  I wrote it
many years ago for one of our many backyard gatherings.

Creator - Hear me!
With thanksgiving I offer these words
of devotion from your people.

Thank you for family and friends
For work for our hands to accomplish
Thank you for our Ancestors,  who are here today
to note the coming together of their people.

Thank you, Creator, for the sun which warms
Mother Earth and our hearts,
Filling us with all good things.
For sleep that arrives on the silent wings of the wind;
For the rivers that come forth from lofty peaks.
For herbs that heal us
For fruit, nuts and grains that nourish us.

Thank you for the fish from the oceans and lakes
And meat from the four leggeds.
Thank you for the memory of the hunt
Where our mighty chiefs once smoked the pipe of peace.

Creator, help us to remain the children of Nature,
Let us be tall and strong
Courageous and timeless in years.
Lend us the patience of the turtle,
Give us the keen vision of the eagle
Riding the thermals a thousand feet above Mother Earth.
Let us beget prophets who are wise in all things.

Instill us with love for our Mother Earth
With her magical dawn
Her evening glow and her dark clouds
that lend contrast to all we behold.

Thank you for the trees, the flowers and the mists that
make them grow.
Thank you for the seed-pods and green vegetables
that thrive in the rains that come for Thunderbird
Who is our totem.

Help us to be humble before YOU Who are the Great Mystery,
And to be true to our ancient faith.

And Creator
When the last fire is extinguished
And the winds cease to give breath to the Earth
Please lead us down the Red Road to the
encampment of our fathers
Across the River of Hope.

Let is be so, Creator, let is be so.

Sol a so!