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Today would have been my dads 71s birthday. I learned a lot from my dad during his short life; the main lesson I learned was healing.

My dad spent his life smoking weed to quieten demons instilled into him by christian priests and nuns, much as I spend a lot of time smoking weed to keep my mind calm. Like father like son, I guess.

But the main lesson I learned in watching my father heal was this: "You are never the person you were meant to be until you heal."

During my dads life I learned about his residential school experience but that didn't happen until his last decade with us. We all stood by him and helped him as he went through this amazing experience of reclaiming his spirit after being abused. At that time I often asked myself "why has my dad gone from hard ass, tough as nails, to being soft as a down filled pillow?" As a kid I admired how tough my dad was, when he got drunk I thought it was cool. During my early childhood years I thought it was cool to smoke cigarettes and get drunk and my entire community saw me as a delinquent.

We learned from our dads healing and when he died we healed from his passing. But we had no idea we had to heal ourselves from the trauma we witnessed and experienced ourselves, to the world that kind of thing was normal. Most of our friends had the same story. I look back at the colonized person I used to be and I am ashamed but at the same time I am proud of who we are and how each and every one of us is healing today.

As for Indian day school trauma, it was not just limited to our days in those schools, it also extended to early years of high school and most definitely into high school. IDS/IRS trauma had most indigenous youth feeling inferior because we never learned our language. Our parents were afraid to teach us our language out of fear that we would be treated the same as they were. We were sent to school made to feel inferior, lost with no solid ground to walk on.

It has now been 9 months and 11 days since I prayed to the child I once was and to the elder I one day will be. As I held my innocent inner child in prayer and being held by inner elder I was very calmed. Remembering to love as I did as a child and reenforcing the love I will one day have as an elder. It feels as though the process of healing has reinstalled my traditional way of loving.

During the healing process you remove the part of you that wants to give up. You beat the crap out of that person and leave them on the ground where they belong. What is left standing is your true, spiritual, and cultural self. Your inner warrior. Decolonized, not knowing why you know what you know, just that you know, blood memories of past lives.

We can all heal and today I honour my healing in the loving name of my father, Solomon Marsden, Jr. It was not possible to mention his name without crying but today I honour him by being as strong as he would want me to be. The final step of healing will be learning our language. There is not much you can say in our language that could your feelings and I wish I never learned the hurtful english words I know now. If I conversed with my parents in our language throughout my life they would still be together.

Healing smoke delivers your prayers directly to the spirit world. Some prefer tobacco, some prefer cedar, my dad and I, we prefer cannabis.

Every time we smoke we pray, for good health, strength, and longevity. Protection against evil, sickness, illness and harm. That we are blessed with the strength to make the right decisions and to be led down the right path. That our children will be blessed with children and grandchildren of their own and with the strength to lead us in the right direction.

God bless each and everyone of you.

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