Cradleboards have been used for thousands of years by our ancestors to carry and love for our future generations. They have protected us, acted as an external womb, and given us a place as children to watch our parents' culture and learn from a safe distance. I’ve always wondered if the fact that neither my father, his father, or myself was ever put in a cradleboard may have had a long term impact on our development, personhood, and our coping mechanisms to the ways that colonialism, residential schools and the foster care system has affected my family.
Now as an adult I deeply wish I could rewind the clock and put myself, and my father before me, and his father before him in a cradleboard as a child. To softly sing songs to us, give us safety, and to give us a connection to our culture in a safe environment. Maybe this would fix things. As kids when we were supposed to be kept safe and playing in the woods we were instead being prepped for the meat factory - the eternal meat grinder of colonialism.
The western world teaches us to push aside this childhood imagining and innocence - “These things can’t be undone!”, but what if they could? In another world somebody took better care of us, in another time we learned to drum and sing and dance, in another place we were listened to by adults who had the capacity to love and care for us.
These hot chest and aching throat feelings, the times of biting back angry tears and saying “It’s fine” have to count for something….right?
My father's cradleboard
Solo exhibition at the New Gallery
Calgary, Alberta, 2023