Our Community - Darlene Downey
I have been doing artwork my entire life but it has only been since 1998
that I have been getting into seriously. My artwork is usually done in
acrylics, on canvas, drums, paddles and on leather.
In 2001 I was honoured when I was asked to do the cover for the book (as seen below) called Aanji-maajtaawag Kwewag – A New Start For Women. As with all of my artwork I had to wait and let the artwork come to me. I worked on this piece for 12 hours straight, and when I was finished, I couldn't believe the overwhelming feeling that came over me as I looked at the mother and daughter embrace. As a child my mother was very abusive towards me and it continued until I left home at age 16. She tried to apologize and become my friend before she passed away 6 days before her 40th birthday but I carried hatred in my heart for the next 20 years.
In 1999 I went back to my First Nation in Fort St. James, British Columbia and decided to visit my mom’s grave in order to give back her stuff and try to forgive her. It didn't happen. Then I went in a sweat in the fall of 2000. In was there that I prayed and asked Creator to help me forgive her so that she could come and walk beside me on this Red Road as my teacher and guide. The most amazing feeling came over me and I knew that Creator had answered my prayers. Since that day, my mom has been beside me.
Doing this artwork has put the final steps of closure regarding my mom that I needed. When I sat and looked at this piece of work, I saw my mom nurturing me the way she was suppose to when I was that little girl looking for guidance. I cried knowing that at long last I had come to terms with the past and made peace with the woman who gave me life. One last thing is that this artwork carriers my mom’s maiden name, Isaac, proudly and without shame. This is the first time I had ever used her name and proudly do so to this day.
After leaving my mom at the age of 16, I ended up in 3 abusive relationships. The last one put me in the hospital in 2000. This is when I decided I had to make a major change. I worked on myself using my traditional teachings and found the tools I needed to live an abuse free life. Today I am a student in the Assaulted Women and Children’s/Advocate program and I intend on helping other women, using my story, hopefully not to go through what I have. During all of this healing process, artwork has been my biggest therapeutic tool. I have find peace and serenity when I do artwork.
We all find our own tools to use in this journey we call life and we decide how and when we are going to use them. Change is never easy but reaching out to others for help is the first step to healing; the rest will come in asking. There is no excuse for violence on women.
Musi (thank you)
In spirituality and friendship,
See Darlene's Crafts page.
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