Meet Team ReconciliACTION YEG 22/23: Ajae Wilson
My name is Ajae Wilson. I am an Indigenous woman starting my second year of Law School at the University of Alberta. I was born in the traditional and unceded territory of the Secwepemc but my Metis roots can be traced back to the Athabasca region preceding the signing of Treaty 6. I have been raised most of my life in Treaty 6 territory. My salutations come from the language of the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc peoples. I thought I would acknowledge the language of the Shuswap peoples.
I was asked by an incredible Indigenous woman to write for the ReconciliACTION blog. My first thought was what an amazing opportunity this would be. I would be a fool to turn this down. I was excited to be part of something that I consider to be impactful and important. I agreed to sign on. Then the fear started to creep in. I started to doubt myself about what I could possibly contribute to the conversation. After some careful thought, I think I understand how I can contribute so that we can keep our conversations going about our commitment to healing. If you ever step into a position where it feels like you have some really big moccasins to fill, just remember that you are going to create your own path. The footprints laid out before me are an indication of the direction to head and not the only way to get to where I want to go. So now I invite you, dear reader, to walk with me as I figure out how to navigate the ReconciliACTION journey.
I will attempt to offer you a healing perspective. As someone who is currently on a healing journey, I understand how painful and arduous rehabilitation can be. I use the word rehabilitation instead of restore because my body will never be restored to pre-injury capabilities. I have experienced three consecutive repetitive strain injuries to my right neck, shoulder and arm. I had to step away from my previous career as a sonographer at the University of Alberta Hospital. I never physically healed from the last injury. I knew that I would have to discover a new path to take in life. I did not step away lightly. When I left the profession, I felt like I lost a huge part of myself.
Severely depressed and physically incapable of working, I started my educational journey. I went from CrossFit workouts, to struggling to write with a pen or cook dinner. To top it all off, my injury was not recognized for worker’s compensation, and I have had to use my pension to fund my education and my rehabilitation. I was fortunate enough to have a partner to carry most of the financial burden of daily living. I am grateful to my husband for sticking with me even though I derailed the dreams we had set out for ourselves. I never thought, “for richer or for poorer” would be tested so soon within our married lives.
I was encouraged to apply to law by my sister but it was a recent graduate’s story, Wade Brown, who inspired me to believe that despite my physical incapability, I could accomplish a law degree. I remember thinking to myself that there was no way I could survive such a large endeavor and that is when I heard his story.
During my educational journey, I tried very hard to find an advocate who could help me fight the injustice I experienced. I believed that if I became injured to the point of being unable to work that I would be taken care of in some capacity. I reached out to many different people. I repetitively shared my story only to discover that it would fall on deaf ears or that they were unable to help my cause. I was trying to navigate an extremely toilsome system. I kept hitting wall after wall. There are detrimental effects on an individual’s spirit after being told time and time again that your story does not matter.
This blog will become part of my own healing journey. It gives me a platform to find my voice and reaffirm that what I have to share holds value. A healing journey is a lifelong commitment and it is by far the hardest path that I have ever had to walk. The commitment must involve every Canadian. The healing should involve an integrated approach of Indigenous knowledge/customs with non-Indigenous methods. The damage is extensive to say the least.
My hope for this blog is to inspire regular individuals to become simple change makers by sharing what matters. Thus far, the effort in addressing the Calls to Action have not been as substantial as I had hoped for. This means that there is work to be done and that is how you, dear reader, are an integral part of this process.
I shall leave you with one more thought. Someone recently asked me if I had any regrets about working as a sonographer. The answer is no. I understand that had I never worked in health care I would have never encountered such an extensive injury. I had an amazing experience serving the needs of individuals who at some point in their lives struggled with health issues. Had I not injured myself, I would not have ended up here in law school. I am unsure what my future entails. I only know that I am meant to be here. I have yet to discover how I will use my law degree but I do know that it will be used to serve the needs of others. I refuse to settle for anything other than a purpose-driven life. See you next Tuesday!