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Who Made You The Judge

R'shelle Greyeyes  (she/her)

Imagine the systemic destruction of your culture and oppression of your people. Picture growing up surrounded by racism and discrimination.

We must understand the historical trauma Indigenous people have faced and continue to face today. Genocide imposed social and legal systems (Including Treaties, The Indian Act, Indian Hospitals, and Residential Schools), forced cultural assimilation, and multiple forms of physical, mental, and social abuse. This trauma has resulted in adverse psychological effects that have led to severe, widespread, and multi-generational difficulties within Indigenous communities. Some of these include high rates of violence, poverty, poor health, suicide, unemployment, addiction, assault, abuse, profound loss of identity, and general hopelessness.

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There needs to be more positive Indigenous representation. Collectively we need to share Indigenous stories, raise awareness 

and educate people until every Indigenous person has equal human rights and has healed. 

“I am a proud Cree woman from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation.” - R’shelle Greyeyes 

 

R’shelle grew up in Saskatoon, on Treaty 6 territory – the traditional lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, and Métis nations. She was raised by her loving mother, who did her very best despite her long battle with alcoholism. R’shelle recalls she was six years old the first time she cleaned up after her mom was sick from alcohol. She grew up too quickly, felt responsible for her family’s well-being, and wanted nothing more than to be able to take care of everything. Subsequently, R’shelle quit school at fifteen and got a job to help pay the bills. During exceedingly hard times at home, R’shelle found interim care with her Kokom (Grandma) and Moshom (Grandpa) at Muskeg Lake Cree Nation to avoid being removed by child protective services. She moved back and forth several times, facing discrimination from every angle. R’shelle was called “fuc%$*ng Indian” or “dirty squaw” by non-natives and got jumped by native kids because of her pale skin, who labeled her a “little white bitch”. Not fitting into either community was just a fraction of R’shelles tumultuous journey.

R’shelle encountered significant physical abuse throughout her young life and became the victim of sexual abuse. Her early coping mechanisms were secretly receiving counseling at school and escaping into the worlds of Manga Japanese Art and Marvel Comics. As time passed, the emotional pain intensified and manifested physically into severe migraines. She was also consumed with anger, leading to behavioural problems, a personal struggle with alcohol, fighting, and cutting herself.

 

“I lived through some pretty terrible things.” - R’shelle Greyeyes

 

Becoming a mother changed everything for R’shelle. It gave her an intrinsic and robust motivation to focus on her personal healing and recovery journey.

 

“With a strong heart and strong mind, you can do anything. My life now is peaceful and happy, and I owe it all to my children.” - R’shelle Greyeyes

 

Both R’shelle and her mother overcame their addiction to alcohol. R’shelle returned to school several times for work and graduated when she was 21. She has an IT Diploma and currently works in the field. She was recently able to buy a house for herself and her children and has provided interim care for nieces and nephews, just as her family cared for her when her mother couldn’t. R’shelle’s approach to healing now includes tattoos, each a symbol and a reminder of inner growth. She is a fierce protector at heart, defending the people she loves, no matter the cost. She will not tolerate negativity in her life and always speaks her truth.

 

 “I’ve made drastic changes and plan on making more. I try to live for the good in life. Life is short so make the best of it.” - R’shelle Greyeyes

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