Wellbriety Tree Ceremony 2019 in Winnipeg, Manitoba: Speech by Jonny Miekle
The sun is up. I woke up. This is a good start. Each breath is a gift that I will not waste. Today, I will drive my body, feed my mind and strengthen my spirit. My past may have been dark at times, but I will think on these times and push. Thinking on these times may draw tears, but they will motivate me to dig deep, because I will not go back. I refuse to go back.
My adversities will become my advantages and what used to hold me down will now hold me up. I will help those that I can help, for service will rebuild my sanity. I will keep humble, yet ambitious. I will be a better person today than I was yesterday. I will strive to be the greatest version of myself.
Nina Eskihk Kapimothet Muskwa Minisowin
Thank you for another beautiful day.
What I recited was part of my morning ritual every day for a large portion of the last two or so years. I talked about how I hold on to my past as I move towards the future.
You see, I like to separate the meaning of what inspires me from the meaning of what motivates me.
What motivates me is my connection to my past. The heartache, the struggles, the suffering. My understanding of pain.
What inspires me is my belief that we will see better days. Hope, Love, dreams. What I see tomorrow.
It is the collision of our memories with our foresight that will determine what we do today.
A huge part of my personal recovery was finding my identity, which as an Indigenous man, required me to not only take a look at my past, but the past of our people.
I was always very aware of what lay at the surface in our communities. Poverty, violence, addiction, broken families, broken communities. But I never really tried to understand why.
In pursuit of my identity, it became imperative that I understood what happened to our people.
The more I learned, the angrier I would get.
Historical atrocities that tore through the fabric of what our culture once was.
This knowledge has shifted my perspective of how I look at the world today.
Two weeks ago, I was walking by this very building and I saw two people, homeless, in their sleeping bags, curled up on top of the exhaust vents to keep warm.
Such an image. That itself is a clear depiction of our society.
People struggling in the cold right outside a perfectly heated building. This is the world we live in.
Whether we look to our past or we look to what’s going on right outside these doors, it is okay to be angry. It is what we do with that anger that matters.
Today, many of the people who we call leaders overfill their plates and remove themselves too far from the people who are suffering.
Leaders who push more policing, heavily rely on incarceration, and remove opportunities from the people who need them. This is a strong example of misused anger. These are decisions based on lack of understanding.
If you don’t understand someone’s pain, ask.
Talk to the person struggling with addiction.
Talk to the person without a home.
Talk to the person sitting in jail.
Talk to the person who has struggled and found a way out.
This is how you will find solutions.
Those who have been through the darkness and found a way out are better able to step back into that darkness to lead another out.
We must empower the ones who come from pain.
With more love, understanding and support, people will rise from the lowest of places.
I see a better world tomorrow.
I believe there is going to be a shift in society.
I believe that we can all do better.
I challenge you to this.
When you all go home tonight, I ask that you take a little time before you go to sleep and think about those less fortunate. Think about the roles you play in society. The gifts that you carry. Ask yourself, “Am I being honest with my efforts towards building a better world with the gifts that I have?”
Because, if we are going to see a better world, we all have a role to play.
Wellbriety Tree Ceremony 2019 Speech by Aurora Alumni Jonny Meikle