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We Are All Maps: Adages told by Kluane First Nation Elder, Alyce Johnson

Leading up to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, Figure 1 is sharing excerpts, quotes and stories from select Indigenous Art + Culture titles. These adages shared by Kluane First Nation Elder, Alyce Johnson, are excerpt from Lhù’ààn Mân Keyí Dań Kwánje Nààtsat: Kluane Lake Country People Speak Strong (forthcoming).

I have a few adages to share, and one of them is, “Education is a trail that gathers no moss.” Another one is, “My children are the future of my past.” Those two are the most important ones to me.

I am fascinated with maps because of the way I see how my Ancestors have influenced my life and who I am. We are all maps. We are maps of trails, of knowledge, of different layers of knowledge, peoples, places, and languages. In making memories we create that place and time in a dimension of generations as we share our stories. We are layers of knowledge, and each experience packs the trail down in multiple dimensions. Our Ancestors, our family members left us with a rich Oral History.

When Tsal KàJana (Gopher Lady, Grandma Copper Lily) said, “I guess she packed around her name,” that to me was significant. Imagine packing that name on that trail that each of us are as a map through time! We are gifted that time for that period for a reason, and we don’t always plan it. We think we do. A greater plan has been set and prepared unbeknownst to us.


Actions you can take this week, and on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation:

  • Join daily lunch and learns hosted by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
  • Attend a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation event near you
  • Buy from an Indigenous artist, give an Indigenous-led podcast a listen or check out new music by Indigenous artists
  • Read a book by an Indigenous author
  • Make a donation to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society
  • Sign up for a free course such as Indigenous Canada at the University of Albert

Figure 1 Publishing is located in the traditional, unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. We recognize that British Columbia and Canada were created through organized dispossession and colonial violence, and we commit to work responsibly and constructively with Indigenous authors and contributors to help create a vital present and future for Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities living on these lands.

September 26, 2023
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