"I believe that a beautiful future is possible, but I believe that we all need to go together and I don't wanna leave anyone behind. We all deserve to be well and human and deeply interconnected." Nikki Sanchez, Decolonize Together.
"Nikki Sanchez (she/her) is a Pipil and Irish/Scottish academic, Indigenous media maker, and environmental educator. Nikki holds a master’s degree in Indigenous Governance and is presently completing a Ph.D. with a research focus on emerging visual media technology as it relates to Indigenous ontology. Nikki is a board member of the Sierra Club BC, BC Women’s Hospital, Photographers Without Borders, and a doctoral fellow at the Center for Religion and Society at the University of Victoria. She helped to design and direct the first-ever Indigenous Storyteller edition with Telus STORYHIVE; a project to provide funding and mentorship for 30 emerging Indigenous filmmakers in BC and Alberta. Nikki is the managing editor of Spirits of the Coast, the bestselling anthology of the Salish Sea Resident Orca published by Royal BC Museum publisher. Nikki had the honor of working for the David Suzuki Foundation as their, “Queen of Green (queenofgreen.ca) where her work centered on environmental journalism, social media, and digital media creation to provide sustainable solutions for a healthy planet, as well as content creation to bring more racial and gender inclusivity into the environmental movement.
As an Indigenous media maker, Nikki’s most recent project is the 8-part documentary VICELAND series “RISE” which focused on global Indigenous resurgence. RISE was debuted at Sundance in February 2017 and has received global critical acclaim, recently winning “best documentary” at the Canadian Screen Guild Awards. Nikki is a TEDx speaker, her presentation is entitled “Decolonization is for Everyone”. She has been a wilderness guide and environmental educator in the Nuu-chah-nulth territory of Clayoquot Sound for over 10 years, where she was mentored by Nuu-chah-nulth elders Tsahsiits and Qaamina Sam. She is the creator and director of “Decolonize Together” a collective of Indigenous women who offer decolonial and anti-racism workshops and curriculum creation."
Hi folks. It's Risa and Amy here from Missing Witches, inviting you to get involved in our annual raffle. In support of the native women's shelter of Montreal and indigenous run nonprofits wherever you live, we have a ridiculously fun witchy heap of prizes donated by a whole community of folks joining together to make a magical wave of reparations magic.
There's a prize pack from Jinx Monsoon, a one-on-one Terra session with. Sarah Goddess Diener Magic classes from Pam Grossman. A full year of writing workshops with Kate Belu in the Bardo Art pieces, jewelry pieces, readings, books, and so much more. Make a donation to your local indigenous support org or the native women's shelter of Montreal.
And then just forward the receipt to missing witches gmail.com with the subject line reparations before May 31st. For every $10 you donate, you'll get one entry into the draw. Check out all the details at missing witches.com/reparations and uh, bless fucking me. Bless Fucking be.
[00:01:20] Risa: I'm all staticy. I'm all stormy here today. Welcome home. Welcome friends. Welcome listeners. Welcome witches. Welcome windstorms and downed trees along the road, crying fits in the car in the morning. Welcome all our sorrows and all our masks, and all our unmasked nest. Welcome to The Missing Witches podcast.
Welcome, especially to our guest. Nikki Sanchez, we're so excited to finally be in space and in circle. We've quoted you so many times without getting to hang out yet that it got weird.
We're so happy to finally get to meet you and hear how you're doing and how you're thinking, especially in this month that we dedicate to our reparations project and support of the native women's shelter of Montreal. I wanna say a lot of brilliant things that you've done and things that I, I'm in awe of by you, but I think it's more interesting if you feel a little like up to it.
Tell us who you are today, what projects are front of mind for you? How are you?
Hi, I'm so happy to be here. I just introduced myself and my language of nahuatl on my dad's side, I carry appeal lineage from Kuklan, which is Coly known as El Salvador. And on my mom's side, I carry Scottish and Irish heritage. And I am joining you guys today from the incredibly beautiful unseated territories of the Coast Salish people, specifically the Launen speaking people where I've. Been a guest since, since an early age because I was joined b born during the war in El Salvador. And so my mom and I had to flee to Canada. And so I've spent majority of my life as a guest here, but also back home on my own territories as well as on the territories of the KeHE in Mongo.
And I am, I think very, very much a product of my circumstances and because of coming into life in the middle of a revolution and a struggle for the survival of, of my own people's indigeneity and our language and our ceremonies and our culture, and then being displaced onto unseated lands of other indigenous people.
And then just really seeing this, you know, Massive phenomenon of colonization that has touched every corner of our earth. And has done a really, really good job of making us feel disconnected from one another as indigenous nations. When prior to settler colonialism, we had thriving governance systems and e economies and relationships and sharing and also mixing of nations.
And those things far predate the past 500 years of colonization here on Turtle Island. And so that work has truly just or that, that, that work of my life and the work of my parents who were both revolutionaries during the war has made me really acutely aware of the impacts both like hyper locally here in the land where I reside as well as globally.
The impacts of colonization both. Internally for us as like how we even come to know ourselves and come to constitute our identities, our relationship to land, and then also externally about how we think about our nationalities, our lineages, and how we think about other groups of people and the stories that we tell ourselves and each other.
And how that creates, you know, either wellbeing, inequity, or harm exploitation desecration of especially our, our mother Earth. So my work has really just taken whatever form is necessary. To talk about these issues and to advocate for the protection of land and for the sovereignty of indigenous and bipo people.
That has meant that I've gotten to work as a filmmaker and make a eight part documentary film series about global indigenous resurgence. I've gotten to author a, a book about the ish orcas who are my neighbors here on Vancouver Island. I've gotten to do a lot of work in journalism and in the media telling.
Other people's stories, whether it's related to art or fashion or language revitalization. I really, the medium is not so important to me as the message. And I think definitely growing up in a war time with parents who are so committed to the overall wellbeing of our lands and of our nation and of our people that's definitely been a value that has transferred over.
So it's like whatever tool needs to be utilized is the tool that I pick up. And along the way I've also had to learn a lot about how to heal like how to heal when the front lines don't ever end, and when the harm has never stopped. But really, really wanting for the history and the lineages that I come from and the sacrifices that have been made on my behalf for me to be here, to be able to celebrate and exist, enjoy, and to be able to model and share that with the people in my space and my community.
Because I truly do believe that we are in a time where we're ready for a collective healing. And that that's something we all inherently deserve. And especially when we frame it under the lens of colonization. Nobody has benefited, you know, holistically whether they've, you know, benefited financially or in terms of power and privilege being part of a lineage of genocide and theft.
And slavery. It harms all of our spirits, regardless of what side our ancestors are on. And so this is work that I truly believe is for all of us to take up. And, and in my own teachings coming from our prophecies around this time, it is very specific that we all come with gifts that only we can bring and that are really needed in these times.
And certainly I think we all really feel it now that these are powerfully transformative times and that the consciousness that we decide to exist within and the actions we decide to take in this time will determine what the future looks like. And I believe that a beautiful future is possible, but I believe that we all need to go together and I don't wanna leave anyone behind.
We all deserve to be well and human and deeply interconnected.
[00:07:58] Amy: I'm sure recently and I both have about 6,000 follow up questions, but we have to ask them one at a time. So I guess I'll start with you alluded to this Mayan prophecy, which was sort of like meed in our society as like a doomsday, but by, by your way of thinking, it's quite the opposite of that. So can you expand a little bit on that?
[00:08:21] Nikki: Sure. So there's many, many different groups of Mayan people that span from southern Mexico into Belise and Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. I name my pail heritage. We are often interrelated and. So I really wanna just acknowledge that that prophecy, like is a Mayan prophecy, but it's also one that I've been raised with.
And so the way that I was taught about it and like have been taught about it again and again my whole life, and thank you for acknowledging the MeMed bullshit that existed in 2012 when nobody bothered to actually talk to any Maya knowledge keepers or day keepers or ceremonial practitioners. And instead they just decided to say that because one of the long count calendars was ending, the world was gonna end.
Which of course wasn't the case at all. But what it marked was the end of the 12th back tune, which it was the long, long count calendar and the beginning of the 13th back tune, which is a new long count calendar. And so what I've been taught about that is that it, that beginning of a new era a new calendar actually marked.
An opportunity for a shift in the collective consciousness of humanity on the planet. And the way that IA had been explained, it is that for the first time, the eyes of the serpent could see through the eyes of the eagle and vice versa. And so the serpent for me and the way that I've been taught about it, she is the one closest to the earth because her entire body, her belly, her brain, everything is always on the earth, is always listening to the ground, knows like more than any other creature what the earth is feeling, and so is so interconnected to our planet.
And the eagle, of course, is like, flies the highest of any bird and can see from this great macro perspective. But in that prophecy, to see those two minds be able to come together and see through each other's eyes, I've always interpreted that as. Kind of coming together of different worldviews. So we can talk about like a western imperial worldview and an indigenous worldview for the first time, actually being able to meet one another's consciousness and have the capacity to lift, lift in and learn from one another and, and actually be like, maybe unify the wisdom that each holds versus seeing them as mutually exclusive truths.
Another piece of that prophecy, like I mentioned, is that this is a very significant and pivotal time for humanity, and that all the people who choose to be here in this time, all the spirits who came for this time came with purpose, came with gifts that are needed. And that has always been something I've really held onto dearly.
Because it really dignifies, you know, that every one of us holds value. Every one of us holds a perspective that can offer insight. Every one of us has something to contribute. And as much as these times have felt incredibly daunting the teachings of that prophecy have always kept me afloat. In believing that even, you know, the smallest actions of kindness or care or even just being committed to the wellbeing of myself and those around me, and both the human and non-human beings around me has significant impact.
And even though it may feel small in the spirit world, things take on a really different kind of level of impact. And we never really get to know the full extent of what our actions do create, but really having faith that our lives matter and our actions matter and our thoughts matter, has been really powerful.
So that's to the best of my ability, the way that I wanna share that. And just knowing too, that. It has been a really profoundly tumultuous time since 2012. And the way that I've been taught about that is that because we need to rebuild our paradigms because we need to rebuild our power structure because we need to reclaim the balance of feminine and masculine energy.
What we've been in the midst of is the like instruction and dismantling of systems that are built out of harm and that are built from inequity. And so that actually these tumultuous times that we've been, you know, surviving through, have been part of this great transition, but that in 2025 we'll see the healing begin.
I'm like, okay, I just gotta make it another two years. I can get there, we can do this. And, and you know, I, I know regardless of who you are, where you are in the world, witnessing, you know, just year after year kind of feeling like, oh my gosh, we've hit rock bottom.
Oh my gosh, we've hit rock bottom and then like the bottom just continuing to fall. And really for me, when I was given the teaching about 2025 being the turning point where we can actually shift into healing, it allowed me to kind of release some of that sense of dread and, and fear because it's been so much, you know, just kind of disbelief of, you know, what's happening to our planet on a climate level.
What's happening in our political systems around fascism and racism and polarization and what's been happening. To the women and non-binary folks around the world and, and their oppression and, and how all of those things are interconnected. And so coming to see this like great unraveling as a necessary point for us to begin to be able to build something entirely different and something entirely equitable and sustainable, has made it a lot easier to, to get up every morning and keep added and find solace even in the grief and even in the, the sorrow.
[00:14:20] Risa: As a parent and thinking about what an education your parents gave you, I mean, they sound so astonishing. how do you think we raise kids for a future? Like the one you can help us imagine, you've taken up their work in such a a wholehearted, and I love the platform agnostic approach too.
Like, I'm gonna use whatever fucking tool. I'm here to keep moving, to keep telling this story, to keep building this vision. You know, I really, really relate to that and I thought that was so, so powerfully stated. I just wonder, yeah, if you would think out loud about how we build that future, especially from the perspective of parenting.
[00:15:04] Nikki: Yeah. I, I wanna share a story. The last time I was with my dad he was asking me whether or not I was gonna have children. And I was in my late twenties just finished a degree in environmental studies and women's studies and starting a masters and acutely aware of, you know, the state of our planet and the state of inequity and all of these things.
And so he asked me, you know, like, are you gonna have children? And I, and I went into this long, well, like, I don't know, because the world and what, you know, what are they gonna inherit? And he, like my dad is, is well, he's past, he's in the spirit world now, but he is just a profoundly brilliant and kind and funny, loving man.
But he shut me right down. Like he shut me right down, just like that. And he was like, like, no, like caca, like shut up. Children are the greatest gift of your life. They're the greatest joy of your life. Enough of this bullshit you're having kids. And that's really stayed with me. And I think like we get really cerebral, you know especially that's, that is part of white supremacy is that we live solely in our minds.
I think therefore I am. And we forget about all the wisdom that we embody that lives in ourselves, that is gifted to us from, you know, 5,000 ancestors that had to exist for us to be able to be here. And I think, you know, I wanna acknowledge, like I have a lot of, I have, I have complex trauma. I have, you know, struggled with a lot of different.
Coping mechanisms. I have, you know, I really had to work on hypervigilance and anxiety and all kinds of things because as much as my parents were incredible people, I was also born in a war zone and exposed to, you know, my mom was a filmmaker, so it was in editing rooms that were, you know documenting genocide at a really, really young age.
And that was profoundly difficult. And I, you know, I'm still like really aware of the trauma that I carry and that some of that is just cellular and intergenerational trauma. And some of it is, you know, the result of having parents who chose to sacrifice everything on behalf of this collective vision and this collective desire for survival and a sovereignty.
And so what I really wanna say is that like, All of our children are profound gifts. They're all gonna be distinctly who they are. I really, it hurts me to watch the way that Stettler colonial society tries to contort all these brilliant, unique young people into a docile model, a docile body and a docile mind.
To be controlled by a state that's main, you know, objectives are financial power and domination. And so I think really honoring, and, and this is a teaching that I've been given both from my own heritage, but also from the heritage of, of the peoples of the land that I live on, which is just that when we arrive, we arrive.
Like with our spirit and our wisdom and really honoring that in our children, I think is one of the best things that we can do. Because they are needed and they chose, they chose you to come through, they chose this time to come, and in whatever way they choose to express their gift, to foster and uphold that rather than projecting.
I think there's been really a model and a, a notion in western society that these are little mini mes that we're gonna mold and they're gonna fulfill our un, you know, we didn't get to do the, we didn't get to go to the Olympics, so they're gonna go to the Olympics, or we didn't win the spelling B, so they're gonna go to the Ning, but B, but actually recognizing that the beauty and the innovation and creativity that's needed to solve the problems of this time are gonna come from the diversity of the people who arrive and their wellbeing and their compassion and empathy.
And so I think cultivating young people who feel secure and loved, especially in, you know, the first. From gestation to the first five years being like, just knowing that they are loved unconditionally and they have everything that they need. And when I say everything they need, I'm not talking about fancy strollers or the coolest new baby gadget, but love food, shelter, community.
That's it. You know? And, and from there, really just making space for them to bloom as the beans that they are and celebrating that, and celebrating the diversity of, of every young person who comes through. And I think, yeah, was even just talking last night with my partner about being young and, and I used to be able to see spirits and I'd just talk with them.
And that was when we were still in El Salvador. And so it was people who, who had been had been lost in the war. And that was such a normal thing that I'd, you know, walk from one room into the other and say, oh, it's just talking with Abita, Juliana. And she said this and da da. And. All the adults would, you know, turn pale because they couldn't believe that I just was talking with their, you know, their late mother.
And so, so many, like that's really common for young people is that they can, they're still so connected to the spirit world and I, I like, it lifts my heart and like my mind just fires on all cylinders when I think about like, what would the world look like if we didn't squash that? If we didn't diminish that, if we didn't silence that, like, what would the world and like for both of you too, right?
What would you look like as a human being now if all those pieces of who you were were celebrated and upheld and not suppressed, or not chastised, you know, and I, I think like, I really wanna give a big, beautiful shout out to this like Generation Z and the way in which they've taken gender right the fuck apart and just refused to wear a pronoun or a gender identity that doesn't fit for them. That is such an incredible gift that they're showing us. We needed that generation to come here and show us that. And I know that with each generation they'll be incredible gifts that, that come.
But we also, I think, you know, I'm not a mother, but I'm an auntie and I recognize that there's an immense amount of responsibility as someone now who is making decisions that will have profound impacts on the future of the planet, on the future of our society and our technology. And really, really wanting to think about to quote, quote, one of my heroes, John Trudel.
Like, how do we stay human? You know, how do we in a time where we've survived so much harm, so much persecution as women, so much persecution and harm as bipo people. How do we really, really remember what it is to be a human being and stay that way, right? And not turn to stone and keep our hearts gentle and kind.
And that's something I really, I really think about a lot because one of the big challenges with our current technological reality is that we're seeing that children aren't cultivating empathy or compassion because if they're engaging over platforms, they're not having to see the impacts of their action.
And so it's creating sociopathic behavior styles in children who aren't being socialized offline. And But that's not their fault. It's the fault of, you know, all the developers of this technology and Apple and everyone who's profiting immensely from these tools without ever asking what are the impact.
And so that's another thing that I really, really think a lot about is like, How do you show up for your kids in a technological time? Right? Like, how do you, rather than documenting them to put them on social media to share with your friends, like, are you their director or are you their nurturer? Are you their parent?
Are you their, their lover and their caregiver, not just, you know, their documentarian. And I'm really, it really concerns me to see a reality where so many children are just used to being filmed through their whole life as though they're living in the Truman Show. When it's like, no, this, your life is here now in this moment and like in the flora and fauna that surrounds you and the ecology around you and your connection with people and non-human beings.
That is what life is. That is what humanity is. And I, I worry, and I, I think that there, there's absolutely ways we can interject and utilize technology for glorious things and for deeper connection and for more justice and for a deeper level of understanding and compassion. But, And the way in which it's being utilized now because of the people whose agendas are determining our algorithms.
It, it's really scary. So I, I really just think, you know, being present with your children and bringing them into non-human built spaces, into wild spaces, into peaceful spaces, and giving them permission to explore and experience and learn that's all about allowing them to be fully human and celebrating whatever, whatever type of human they turn out to be, because it's a gift.
And that's something I like, just hold really, really dearly in my heart. For my dad being so strict with me and saying like, get these stupid thoughts outta your head. Children are the greatest joy of your life. So that's, that's the story I wanna share about that. And I also just really wanna acknowledge too the work of parenting and, you know, how profoundly difficult the realities of settler colonial society and nuclear family structures and heteronormativity have made it for primary caregivers and how isolating it's, you know, been made and how little, like even when I go back to Central America or when I go, you know, up island and spend time on like, on reservation, children are everywhere and everyone is co-parenting and everyone is showing up, you know, and everyone is watching out.
Whereas in North America and the majority of spaces like children are like isolated to these certain realms where they're allowed to be, you know, in their, in their highchair or. At the park, but they're not part of the rest of our society. And I, it makes me really sad for what that means for the, the parents and how much pressure it is when you're living in this nuclear family structure instead of having an intergenerational family present and a community present.
And so I think a lot about that as well is how we can support parents and caregivers to feel connected and supported and not alone, and to share their, you know, share their struggles and share their wisdom and share their joy and celebrate their children. And there's, I, I wanna just shout out Andrea Laund, who has a beautiful blog as well as a really amazing Instagram called Indigenous Motherhood.
And she talks about like, your children aren't like a drain on you. Capitalism is, your children aren't causing you stress like patriarchy is. And just really reframing that. Because we have really in, in settler colonial society, lost a lot of our core values around why we have children, what those relationships are for, what we're meant to be doing as aunties or mothers or caregivers.
What it's really all about. And it's not about like molding the perfect person. It's about the experience and the interchange and the reciprocity for what you get to share on that journey and what you get to learn from each other and the love that you get to build and how unique that love is to each, to each child and to each caregiver.
And so I just, yeah, I really wanna really acknowledge all, all the parents and caregivers out there for that like, incredibly. Important role. And to acknowledge that our society has not been one that's really upheld or supported the wellbeing of caregivers. And I really hope to see that change.
[00:27:15] Risa: I feel like I wanna tell you this story really quickly cuz you know my husband's brother and so you'll have a small idea of this, but yesterday we were, we were really excited we were gonna work outside together, me and him and our four year old. And we were, we had the drill and the saw out and we were kind, we were making.
Her like a little zone in a, in a fairy circle in the woods. And she was really excited about it for a little bit. And then she started crying and crying and she crying that she, she felt really left out cuz she can't use the power tools. And you know, we were like, well w work on this while you work on that.
And turns out what she wanted was for us all to gather up the saw dust and take it over to a pile of snow where a few days earlier a bird had died and to make, like, she made a bird out of the snow. And it was a memorial to tell the other birds that the bird king had died there. And it was so strange and silly and heart-wrenching.
And, and when you said, you know, they come with everything and it's our job to listen. I find those moments with her. Are such an invitation to like flip all of my expectations for the day, to flip everything that I came in way down with and carrying and to sit with her in her version of the world. And I can't always do it, but it's fucking magical when I can, you know?
[00:28:48] Nikki: That story. love that story. Thank you so much for sharing. I got this chills, my whole body of just the beauty of that sweet sweetheart and that awareness and that like deep compassion and love. Like that's so what a beautiful lesson. You know? So really grateful that you shared that.
[00:29:06] Risa: well, yeah, and, and you know, I, I think it, it just reminds me of this idea that I come back to, from something I heard you say in your TEDx talk that you know, colonization isn't your fault, but it is your responsibility. You know, like, try not to be hard on us when we come in hard with what we think is a great idea or we're trying to be good parents and we realize that it's not our fault, we're like this, that it is our job to do better.
Can you, can you expand on that idea and some of the practices that you teach around that? I.
[00:29:37] Nikki: for sure. I, I wanna acknowledge that I have, you know undergone like this, my kind of primary avenue to understand these systems of power and oppression and inequity through, through academia, right? And so that was like through doing a degree in environmental studies and then women's studies and social justice, and then a master's in indigenous governance and now somewhere in the middle of a PhD.
And so those, there is a tendency there because I've like been, I. I've explored these themes through those cannons. There's a tendency there for me to be hyper intellectual and like even the notion of decolonization for a lot of people is a really like theoretical and kind of like just ethereal thing that's intangible.
And so I want to, like, when I boil down what the fuck I'm talking about, I'm talking about collective healing. I am talking about the reality that we are all the inheritors of this legacy of profound harm and displacement. And that regardless of what the particularities of our ancestral stories are in one way or another.
And especially when you start to look at the past generations, all of our stories are interconnected. And as much as it's a painful history, it's also an incredibly beautiful one to see. Our survival, you know, our, our ability to adapt. To adapt. And one of the things that I feel really sorrowful about is that because history is written by the victors, all of these incredible stories, right?
Like here, I like, I, I have a Canadian mother who, you know, is, carries a ton of white privilege and put herself in a war zone for 20 years to be an ally. And I, I'm a product of two people, you know, from entirely different worlds coming together for love and for justice. And many of us have lineages that are about, that are stories of love and solidarity, that are stories of allyship, that are stories of people actually standing up not just for themselves, but for humanity and for wellbeing of, of the earth and the ecology and for their fellow brothers and sisters.
And so I really, you know, I think that the more we can understand our own histories, the more we can see how interconnected we are and the more we can like map out specifically what our roles and what our gifts are. And I say like, I, I really, you know, it's been very interesting for me because 10 years ago if I said white supremacy out loud in a room full of people like some people would walk out.
And thanks to the work of incredible activists both like indigenous activists and I Moore and black activists and Black Lives Matter and all kinds of other global movements. We are now at a time where we don't have to like justify or argue that white supremacy exists or that patriarchy exists, but that in fact these are the systems that have designed our society that we've inherited and been born into.
But with that understanding, what's that awareness? We then, that is like the pivotal moment where we actually can re redirect the world that we're gonna build together, the future that we're gonna construct to leave behind for the ones who come after us. And that for me is, it's a place where we take our power back.
That is the instant where we can choose healing, right? Where we no longer have to be blindly complicit within systems of harm. And so it's not easy work. There's, and like, this is why, you know, it is so important to recognize that we all have really powerful gifts that are necessary because this is like, we're at the 24th hour.
We need all hands on deck to stop these systems, like, which are essentially systems of death and destruction, right? Whether it's, whether it's patriarchy and harm against the, the bodies of women and two-spirited and non-binary people, or whether it's the extraction and desecration of the land. The ideology is the same and it's one of death extraction, exploitation, and like mania.
And so when we come to be able, and it takes courage to be able to sit in the truth of our history and to hold the magnitude of harm and suffering. You know, that has been part of the colonization of the Americas, of the transatlantic slave trade of, feudalism and Christian crusade.
It's like just the collective amount of trauma that is embedded in all of our histories. But when we find our courage to sit in the truth of that and tell our stories and listen to each other's stories, that's when we take the power back and we begin the work of healing. And from there, the work of collectively constructing a world and a reality that we actually want to exist within, and that we feel proud and excited to bring new lives into.
[00:34:58] Amy: I'm so excited to get to say this face to face to you, Nikki, because I'm an auntie, not a mother, but definitely an auntie and, some of the witches in our covenant have come to me with what you talk about as like the paralysis of shame and guilt of that settler heritage.
And I'll say something personal and then I'll send them that Ted talk. That Ted Talk has been such an incredible resource. First for me to like blast past my own, you know, guilt and shame, but also to remind other people like the paralysis of guilt and shame is not helping anyone.
So thank you again for just putting that out into the world. And I do wanna come back to a bit of vocabulary, a little, a little academia.
Can you talk a bit about indigenizing versus decolonizing? I think it's a very important distinction and I would love to hear you.
[00:35:51] Nikki: for sure. So I, I choose to be a decolonial educator because I am someone who carries mixed heritage. And I was not raised on my homelands. You know, I like, since I was four years old, I've been a visitor on, on unseated lands of, of ish people. I wasn't raised with my language and you know, so I am, although those are things that I am, like I seek for myself as part of my own reclamation and my own healing, that's also not my work to do.
The work that I can do really well though, because I've been raised in between two worldviews is I can translate and I can build bridges and I can recognize that having, I have the most beautiful and like kindhearted, very blonde, very blue-eyed mother in the world who used to have to have a letter when we'd travel that it like legally stated I was her child because we look so different.
And recognizing though that my proximity to her privilege has meant that I could go to university has meant that I, you know, as much as I detest it can navigate bureaucracy, and also because I like live in this body, I also get to experience that no matter how many credentials I have or how articulate I can be when I go to try and access like basic healthcare, I'm still gonna be treated a certain way.
Right? And so being able, like it's very bipolar and destabilizing to be kind of like, you know, in this world and then in this world and in this world and in this world, not really feeling like there's any stable place to belong, but I have to recognize that in that.
In my unique positionality, there is a perspective that I can bring. And so that work is the work of decolonization. And when I say decolonization is for everyone, I fucking mean it. And so often, and this is really a paternalistic worldview, which is part of a white supremacy value set, is that the work of like decolonization would be to go into a community in Africa and build a water system, or would be to go into indigenous community and set up a sports program.
And like that is, if that is not your community, that's not your fucking work. Your work is to look at the ways in which the systems of power and privilege that you exist within are causing harm in other places. And how the wealth that you get to enjoy the land that you get to occupy, the institutions that you get to belong to, where the trade off is in terms of like, who's not getting that, then who's being displaced from that?
Who is not benefiting from intergenerational wealth when you're, you know, getting handed down property on stolen land, that is the work of decolonization. And so often there's this like it's like a compulsive desire for, for settler people to wanna go into other people's communities and be the white savior.
You're actually not recognizing that the systems of culture, worldview, economy, extraction, power and privilege that you come from are the root of the problem. So don't go put a bandaid on the problem, especially not one that you think is needed. Address your own community.
Address your own legal system. Address your own political system. Deconstruct the origins of harm. That's what decolonization is. That and that, and in that, like, there is no safe space in decolonization where we get to like step into like theoretical and then step out to like, but my personal life, no, it's all interconnected.
There is no like compartmentalization. It's just as much how you live your life, how you treat the people around you, the way in which you show up to give mutual aid and care and, you know, build communities of equity and resiliency. As it is the way in which you decide to run for office or the curriculum that you develop as a teacher or, you know, the, the modalities that you utilize as a caregiver.
That work is for everyone. For the people who are every day living with the weight, the oppression, and the like, absolutely impacts of colonization. Is not their heavy lifting to do, that's not their fucking work to do. And they shouldn't have to be showing up to educate white people about, you know, why they deserve basic equity, human rights, and dignity. What would be beautiful and what I hope to see in my lifetime is that all of the forms of harm that have been pushing on communities of color, indigenous communities, black communities, that we do our work, you know, as people who hold privilege, that we do enough of our work to prevent those systems from pushing anywhere, but on itself to be accountable, to redesign, to be equitable, to uphold the values that actually align with the world that we wanna create so that communities of color, communities who've been historically oppressed and extracted from, can actually do their own work of sovereignty. So whether that is language revitalization, whether that is land-based practices, whether that is ceremony, whatever it looks like and determined only by those communities themselves, that they have the capacity and the liberty and the time and energy to do that work of being who they are.
And that is the work of indigenization. And sadly, like so much of so much of our identities as racialized people have had to be in response to the oppression that we face. And so we know ourselves only as shaped by, responding, resisting, revolutionizing against the ways in which we're being oppressed for our own survival.
But the world that I want to bring into being, first by bringing it into our consciousness is what would our world look like if we weren't contorted? Into being reactionary. And the way I think about this a lot, it, and I think is a really good example, is around first wave feminism and the failure of first wave feminism because it shaped itself in response to its suppression.
And so power was equated with what patriarchy looked like. And so rather than fighting for liberation, they fought for like equitable power and then just recreated the same forms of oppression against other communities and women of color. And so it's as though if we do not have a transcendent ideology of what liberation and sovereignty looks like, we're only gonna be reflection and an imprint of the harm which we've been shaped by.
And so that's, when I talk about healing, it's like reclaiming our wholeness. Not just being a, a response and a reaction to our oppression or our harm or the systems of inequity that we live in, but actually reclaiming our spirits, reclaiming your four year old daughter's wisdom and compassion, and actually allowing that to be what guides our work and what guides our truth.
And you know, when I say this, I can feel my body speaks to me. And when I say something that is true, my body tells me. I think, you know, especially when we look at the way in which patriarchy has impacted our current realities as women, especially as life givers, as you know, non- gender conforming people, we have been taught to completely devalidate the wisdom that lives in our bodies to sanitize and hide and be embarrassed about our moon times, to not listen to our intuition, to not be emotional, to not like, do any of those things.
And those are our superpowers. Those are gifts that were given to us specifically so that we could bring that wisdom into the world and offer that perspective. And so I really think we can learn a lot from our predecessors within feminism of like, how dare we recreate what we think of as liberation as a reflection or an imprint of the ways in which we've been oppressed.
And un unfortunately, if we don't do our healing first, that is in fact what we do do. And we see that, like, I see that in the communities that I exist within, whether it's, you know, around organizing and mutual aid or land defense, that if we, if a lot of us, you know, who come forward to fight for the land, haven't done that work yet to heal ourselves.
And so we end up actually being the most detrimental things to our own movements because we're recreating those forms of lateral violence.
[00:44:50] Risa: So much Fuck yes to everything that you just said. Amy and I got nauseous from heavy nodding. I'm dizzy. I wanna ask maybe one last question if that's okay.
I wonder, you know, if you could take up this idea you, you have... for people who can't see you, which is everybody listening except for the three of us.
You have a, a map behind you, a mind map. And, and you've mentioned before, like mapping our ways to, I love the phrase a transcendent ideology. You know, how do we see our superpowers? How do we do that healing that lets us see beyond this narrow death cult, you know, how do we, how do we wayfind to that, that future that we can help be such that we can help be a part of it?
I know that this is really practical hands-on work that you do. You help people and organizations figure out how to do this? Can you leave us and our listeners with a ritual or a thought process or a way of thinking about mapping that we can, we can engage with?
[00:45:54] Nikki: Yeah,
[00:45:56] Risa: Great.
[00:45:57] Nikki: I think I, so the, what's coming to me is find your medicine. Find your medicine. And sometimes , some of the medicines that come to us at different times in our life then become poisons because we don't know how to let them go when we no longer need them. And medicine is for everyone.
Healing is for everyone. The ignorance of me thinking I could heal my family or heal my community and then send them out into a sick world and be well, you know, is so, it's such a false ideology. So if I want wellbeing for myself, if I want wellbeing for the ones I love, I have to also be committed to the wellbeing of all our relations and, and our ecology. And so a big part of that, you know, giving yourself permission to be well, to heal. To, to be entitled to medicine, like medicine is for everyone. And then spending time, you know, evaluating. And for me, this, you know, it's been a process. There's been times in my life where I've, you know, I've needed something to make me strong and it's shown up and, and got me, you know, got me through a really hard time.
But when I wasn't able to let go of it, it then became in itself something that was causing its own harm. And so recognizing that like the medicines in your life will come and go. I know in the beginning you, you talked about lighting up a joint, right? And recognizing like that maybe at, at a time in your life, that's a medicine that's really gonna help you.
And, and actually really being present and conscientious with your body around like, what is this doing for me? Does this medicine work for me? Right. And so for me, the last couple years, my medicine has been water. And I've, you know, I, whether it's like doing dips in the ocean or in the river, or just singing to the water when I'm in the shower and, and praying to it and thanking it.
Like it's, I'm really aware that it's been a medicine for me and for other people. It will be, you know, time in nature or, you know, just giving love to your pet or, you know, whatever it is. But find your medicine and love yourself enough, and love the world enough to believe that you deserve that medicine.
And so, even though you know, late stage capitalism is grinding, racial oppression is infuriating, patriarchy is like dispiriting. All of these things, like the one radical act you can do for yourself is give yourself permission to access that medicine and really recognize that you're worthy of it. And that's something that.
Really came to me really powerfully. We right before the pandemic and the first lockdowns a community in northern BC where I live what's called Wetsuweten was under siege, basically by industry and by the government. And there were tanks brought in and snipers and dogs. And it was like this community was literally under military occupation to try to force through a fracked gas pipeline.
And they called for allies across Canada to shut down the country. And so I got to be part of an incredible group of young people who occupied the Parliament buildings here in Victoria. And we like slept there. We did not leave. We held a sacred fire for the majority of the month of February.
Ultimately, I believe six of the youth were dragged out by police and then shortly after, we were all put in lockdown. And my role at that time was like doing all of our media and, you know, making sure we had all of our basic necessities and just keeping everyone's wellness done, as well as really doing all of the kind of media and messaging and getting everyone really situated so that we could align our messaging and really, really uphold, you know, what the matriarchs and so we're calling for. But for that entire month, I. Barely slept. I barely ate. The place I extracted from again and again was my own body. And at right after that, we went into, we went into lockdown and quite a few of the young people ended up living with me for the first lockdown. And I was still in such a state of heightened adrenaline that I'd get to five o'clock in the day and I'd be like, oh, I'm, why do I feel so shaky?
What's, what's wrong with me? And I would realize like, oh, I haven't eaten today. I haven't even fed my dog yet today because I've extracted so much from myself. And I had this like lightning strike of awareness of the hypocrisy for me to extract, for me as a creature of this earth, as part of this beautiful web of interconnectedness and a product of this like planet that I love so much for me to be extracting from myself and my wellbeing in the exact same manner I was fighting against industry, extracting from our land. And to really see that ultimately if I believe that our land deserves respect and to be tended to, and to be listened to, and to be honored, and to be held sacred, that I have to also embody that from my own body because I'm an extension of that land, of this, of this beautiful planet. And that has been a fundamental shift for me.
I think a lot of us, especially those of us who are sensitive and deeply compassionate and really, you know, feel deeply we become our own sacrifice zones, and that's ultimately we're contributing to the harm. When we allow ourselves to be a sacrifice zone, it feels like we're, we're giving up for the greater good, but ultimately what is needed more than anything is your wellbeing for the long haul.
You know, and I, I talk to, to the people that I love and the people that I do land events with, like, I want to get old with you. I want to sit back and be granny's telling stories and laughing about this shit with you. I want us to get there and for our movements and for the values and the, the issues that we're so committed to whatever they may be like, we're only gonna be able to see them through, if we can stay present and our lives are sustainable and we take care of ourselves enough to be able to continue to show up and to be there for the next generations and to recognize that our roles might change, but we are necessary.
And that intergenerational piece, I I, when we were occupying the legislature, I looked around and I was like, you know, 30 at the time and I was like one of the oldest people there. And I just remember looking around and feeling so sad cuz I needed my aunties, I needed my elders. I. And, and I know that there's an incredible history of activism and frontline land defense and everything right here on Vancouver Island.
But because it's taken such a big toll on those who put their bodies on the front lines, a lot of them aren't still here with us. And I don't want that. I don't want that for myself. And, you know, my companera and I don't want that for my little brothers and sisters either. I want us to get old together.
I want us to tell these stories together, and I want us to recognize that if we're actually really, really committed to these movements, then we have to be committed to our own longevity and our own sustainability, because we are necessary to seeing them actualized.
[00:53:26] Amy: We just wanna thank you so much, Nikki. We want to thank you for the work that you do and the tools that you've given, and for your time today, and mostly for the uplifting for this vision, this transcendent vision of a future that we can create together by taking care of ourselves and by taking care of each other.
[00:53:47] Nikki: The one last thing that I'd I would love to say is just that matter creates consciousness and we can't build a world that we can't yet imagine. And so if you can do nothing else, start with beginning to like taste, touch, feel, experience the world that you want to exist within because it is, it's like, it actually is our collective consciousness that will get us there.
If we are locked in fear and doom and apathy or grief paralysis, we cannot be in that place where we are- all of us are life givers, all of us are creators and we have such incredible power to build worlds. And we do that like with our hearts and our minds. So that has been, for me, like one healing practice and also something that allows me to feel like, you know, if I can do nothing else, like I'm gonna start to imagine that world into being.
And I really believe there's so many people around the world doing such good work on so many different levels. But that work of collectively bringing our consciousness towards. What does harmony look like? What does peace feel like? You know, what, what, what does your fullest expression of the blooming of your humanity, what does that look like?
And actually allowing yourself to start to construct that is actually one of the most powerful things we can do. Because if we can't imagine it, if we can't imagine anything other than the history of oppression and pain and harm and conflict, that's all we're gonna be able to create forward.
We need to start imagining these worlds so that we're able to give birth to them.
[00:55:33] Amy: What's the best way for our listeners who wanna support you and support your work and support your vision of the future what's the best way for them to find you, reach you?
[00:55:41] Nikki: Yeah. That's a great question cuz I am taking 2023 off of social media.
[00:55:46] Amy: Nice. Nice.
[00:55:47] Nikki: collective though, I work with an incredible group of people. And we do decolonial training and a multitude of different things. So decolonize together.com is where you can learn more about the work that we do.
And yeah, that, that'll be it for now. I guess the other thing is , I do some public speaking as well, so you can just Google me and there's, there's places to be there, but I, yeah, I'm like, just, I really, you know I'm really grateful to have these conversations and I also really invite all of us to think about how we can do more connecting offline and like, you know, ba reclaiming our humanity in that way and, and getting to live in this beautiful world that we're a part of.
[00:56:31] Risa: I think you're the first person that we've asked, like, how can we find you and, and throw money at you? And you're like, yeah, you can't, don't do
[00:56:38] Nikki: Well, actually no. I can give you a link right now. I'm like, if you
[00:56:40] Risa: Okay, good, good. Good.
[00:56:40] Nikki: name. So we, we do my my collective is also a nonprofit and a charity, and essentially what we do is like we do one, one arm of the work that we do is preventative and the other arm is reparative. So the charitable stuff is like directly supporting land defense.
Language revitalization, healing justice even like things like basic housing and, and things like that for our community members who are not supported. And we also do a lot of education and capacity building. So if you would like to support that, I will give you a link right here. And I would, we are actually we'll be bringing a group of indigenous and bipo change makers and leaders and women who have given of themselves, like extensively for the world on a ton of levels.
We'll be bringing them out into the old growth forests this summer to do just deep restorative healing. And that's something that I'd be so grateful for anyone who wants to support that because so often the folks who are really leading us forward, I. Are not supported and there's no space for them to do that work of sustainability and giving themself their medicine and actually refilling.
And I think that's one of the biggest things that I've learned for myself is that if I'm gonna put my body on the line to defend the land, then I need to also go back to the land and allow it to refill me so that I'm able to show up again and again in a good way. And that, that, that needs to be, that, that needs to be the kind of reciprocity that I honor.
And so that's an opportunity that I'm really excited to be able to offer to other women who do work that is just so inspiring and is uplifting. So, so many of us,
[00:58:26] Risa: For folks who are listening, we'll have the link in the show notes, but it's a Canada helps.org link for a charity called https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/AWINAKOLA/
[00:58:34] Nikki: Awinakola, Awinakola, and decolonized together is, is part of elite Awinakola.
[00:58:40] Amy: Of course, it's it's reparations month here at The Missing Witches Podcast. And so if you do want to make a reparation or a donation to this specific organization, then you can join our fundraiser and maybe win a prize for making a reparation to this incredible organization. So win, win, win, win.
[00:58:59] Nikki: Awesome. I'll just say too, just a quick note because Awinakola decolonized together is a component of it. If you do donate on that link, you just, in the note you need to say we're decolonized together.
[00:59:09] Risa: Thanks for sharing that with us. Thanks for sharing the. Transcendent future. The idea of an ideology that could go beyond thanks for lending your voice and all your brilliance and research and the feelings from inside your body to the sense that we have too, that we can conjure a real living future, that we can be part of, that we don't have to fucking give up on that we refuse and we appreciate every ounce of energy that keeps us from collapsing under the weight of all of this and believing in 2025.
[00:59:50] Nikki: We can there, we can do it. really can. And it's, for me, it is, it's conversations like this, right? Where it's like my. My cells are all glistening and shimmering, like phosphorescence because it's recognizing like all my, all my ancestors are right here. You know, just like holding us, holding us up, and pushing us forward and like lighting that pathway.
And I think to, you know, reclaiming hope and like feeling excited about the future. How different the feeling in your body is when you allow yourself to be excited about what comes next and what we can co-create.
[01:00:27] Risa: I know that I sometimes feel my ancestors, or I feel my body reacting sometimes these days. I also feel our coven. Because we get to spend so much time talking to these incredible people, and I feel them now like doing the full body nod, sending you their, their energy and their love for your work and their appreciation all over the world and supporting you.
I know this work takes a fucking lot out of you , so I hope that you feel that wave of love and support from, again, a strange community of witches gathered in this space we make between our ears
[01:01:02] Nikki: I gratefully received that so much and just, yeah, I'm so grateful for the work that you guys do and the community that you create, and I'm really, really honored to have been part of this conversation today.
[01:01:12] Risa: Blessed fucking be, I guess.
[01:01:14] Amy: I'm blessed of fucking bee.
Be witch. Be witch. You must be a witch. The Missing Witches Podcast is created by Risa Dickens and Amy Toro with insight and support from the coven . Amy and Risa are the co-authors of missing witches, reclaiming true histories of feminist magic, which is available now wherever you get your books or audio books.
And of New Moon Magic 13 anti-capitalist tools for resistance and re-enchantment coming fall 2023.