I told my parents I was going to move to Canada when I was 8 years old. It’s astonishing to look back now, at 40 years old, and understand that this has been a journey backwards in time, and space, that has actually led me back to myself.
While most exchange students wanted to come to Canada because of the opportunities, I was brought here by a fascination with the land. But back then, when I was 16 years old, I had no idea that my still platonic love for the mountains on the west coast, or my vivid fascination with the aurora borealis would gift me with the most precious journey of all: a way back into my own memory, heritage and healing.
The land brought me here, only to whisper back in my ear: remember who you are, what you are made of, and where you come from – because my own land was too hurt to do so. She needed me to come somewhere still relatively healed in comparison, so that I too could find the space to heal and to look back with the strength of those who dare to remember.
My relationship with the Canadian landscape and the Indigenous literature this land has produced over the years, has allowed me to re-investigate my own Brazilian and Indigenous heritage with fresher eyes. Every time I hurt while I was away from home, it was the land that brought me back to the path I had to be on: remembering my stories, placing just the right person in front of me that would lead me to my own source – much like an echo or a mirror.
I truly believe we are in an symbiotic relationship with the land and that She will reveal herself to us, on the same measure with which we open up to listening to her stories. All of my movement forward – from pushing towards positions of leadership, to traveling abroad, were deeply guided first and foremost by a grounding sense of intuition that came from the heart before traveling through my head. The heart beat controls our rhythms, and the blood flow, and so I believe, it controls the pacing with which we access our blood memory.
When I visited the mountains in Victoria, BC for the first time, I closed my eyes, and I could clearly remember the feeling of being comforted and cradled by the mountains in my birthplace of Rio de Janeiro. When I sank my feet and my fingers in the sand dunes of Long Point, in Ontario, I could feel the sand playfully tickling the edges of my body in a way that had always been familiar to me since childhood, all the way from the sands of Niteroi. When I smelled the Atlantic Ocean in Newfoundland, it was the same dense and wise smell of thousands of years encrypted through minerals and plankton and which were seamlessly carried through the waves, and mixing with my own tears – a healing only known to those who know the secrets of salt waters.
I believe, whole heartedly, the land has brought me all the way here, so that I could look at my own land with more care, with more compassion, and more respect. Brazil has been colonized for 350 longer than Canada, and the wounds there are buried under structures that did not offer the possibility for free communication in the way we have here today. Our scars were muffled by a silence of concrete structures for a very long time, our people unable to find each other through stories that were not being shared in a system that was made of cement and rudimentary wires from the 1500 – 1900 hundreds.
My living in Canada, at this point in time in our collective history, has allowed me to look back and heal my own relationship with everything that I have loved, and didn’t know that was hurting, inside and outside of me. And for this land’s generous giving and gentle guidance, I will be forever grateful. I am not sure where I am going next.
I know however, that as I continue to fall in love with the land here, I continue to discover myself in new ways and I hope that this eventually leads me back to a love that I have yet to experience: a love that is decolonized, a love that is healed, and which transcends the very structures that were imposed on us to erase us. Because that’s what the land has always offered me: a story that continues to unfold through deep truth, beauty and love.