The meaning of land is tied to the notion of indigenous use but also to the presence of Aboriginal poetics that anchors people to the land at the deepest level of human meaning, identity and culture. Elsey, 2013 :117
Elsey’s quote about the many roles land encompasses, perfectly articulates my many experiences, connections, values and goals instrumental to developing the person I am and want to be in the future. My academic goals reflect the multidimensionality land has in my life. The research I pursue will expand the limited purview land has in western methodologies to reflect true Indigenous ways of knowing and being informed by the land.
The strongest person in my life who inspires me to be better is my Utsoo (grandmother), she is the matriarch of the family, our knowledge holder, and Keyohwhudohchun meaning the leader of our traditional governance organization. All the teachings and experiences I have in the bush connect back to my granny, she is the freest on the land. Conceptualizing the world with knowledge since time immemorial. Hunting, berry picking, medicinal collection and general gatherings had given a space to recognize that land is the only variable in my lives that remains a constant in a society where uncertainty and individualism are rampant and contrast the values I have grown up with in the bush. My Utsoo always say’s “we must take care of the land, so it can look after you”, her teachings echo the responsibility instilled the vital role land is to me. Land is our memories; it is a living memory that encapsulates our sense of where we came from through the stories of our ancestors etched onto the landscape. These etchings are then instilled through our customs and practices that we continue to act in our everyday lives on our land. Thus, instilling and reinstating our sense of security and belonging. This is not just about a general claim to land; this is about the protection and preservation of our way of knowing and being within this world. The culmination of experiences I have been blessed with on my Keyoh (homeland) are because of my Utsoo role in my life. The land is an extension of her spirit and mine as well, the enfoldment with the land as an extension of self. Is a culmination of experiences on the land is difficult to center to one memory but, one special memory I hold close is my Utsoo speaking Dakelh and conceptualizing the world through the language. I hear the echoes my Utsoo speaking Dakelh with my Utsian (grandfather) and the sound of rain while I look at the lake in front of our cabin, and knowing in absolute that this place and space is where I am meant to be in this world.