Jamie’s Story

After a near-death experience in 2010, I finally decided to go after everything in life that I had always wanted.  For me, that meant quitting my job, starting a new career path, and dusting off all the creative talents I had set aside.  I’ve been in school for a long time and it took me quite a while to finally make my way back to the dreams and talents I had as a girl: writer, film maker, musician, artist.  Since changing my direction, my life has never been better!

I am an aboriginal woman who was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  I was adopted at the age of three along with my biological sister and brother into a large family.  My adoptive father was an aboriginal elder from Fisher River, Manitoba and my adoptive mother was a diaconal minister from Halifax, Nova Scotia.  My father had five children in his first marriage and adopted five more children with my mother.  I am the youngest of those ten children.

As I grew up, I didn’t realize the difficulty I had fitting in at school was because I was aboriginal.  It didn’t occur to me very often that racism existed.  I just assumed that I was a loser and was ugly and kids chose to make my life miserable because all the things they said were true.  For me, pain and embarrassment and feeling awkward was just how life was.  Eventually, these feelings of shame became part of who I was.

I coped by immersing myself in music, writing, reading, and art.  I was a writer the moment I learned to read.  I started playing the piano when I was just a tot but it was only when I was about 12 that I started to love it and therefore unleashed my musical self.  When I was writing music or stories and learning every instrument I could get my hands on, I wasn’t shameful or embarrassed to be me but rather powerful and confident and proud.  I was my true self.

But I lost my way.  Someone told me I could never be a writer or make enough money as an artist to support myself.  And I believed them.  So I left home at the age of eighteen late at night with a knapsack over my shoulder and spent the next decade trying to survive.  I convinced myself that I would become a doctor and then I would be happy.  I struggled so much and was never truly happy even though my life eventually got pretty good.  It took me a long time to realize that the things I needed to survive were the very things I had turned away from.  Writing.  Music.  Art.

And here I am.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I am finally doing what I should be.

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