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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

My Parents Indigenous Love Story.

When I decided to go back to school, I told Kevin Kerr that my priorities are self care, family and then school. That I have family obligations and responsibilities that will always come first.

We have family dinners every Sunday and I have to, and want to be home for those. I have extended family, Aunts and Uncle and cuzzins and baby cuzzins that I want to spend time with.

Kevin immediately and completely understood.

Moving away part time has actually made me closer to my family in many ways. In August, I decided that I stopped wanting to live like a zoo animal, by myself in approximately 590sq ft. And that I was going to live at home with my parents as much as I could throughout the week.

I dunno about you, but never in my adult life did I predict or plan that in my midish 30’s, I was going to “move back home.” I also didn’t ask my parents, I just sort of, on a weekly basis kept bringing more stuff home.

My parents, in particular my Ma, who was more vocal about this, loved it. We have a lot more unschedule time to just be around each other.

Coffees in the morning, we all drink decaf because we have a lot of energy naturally. Morning puppy pets with their 3 rescue dogs, Benji, Lucas Monroe and Pudgy. Dinners where we don’t always all eat at the same time but we’re in the kitchen together cooking with a great sense of communion.

My parents have been entrepreneurs and business owners for almost their entire adult lives. My Dad got promoted to site manager at 19 and realized he didn’t like working for anyone and started his first business at 21. When my parents met, Mom became the company manager and Executive Director and I attribute their international success to her relational expertise and ability to meet with CEO’s and hire young Indigenous peoples keen to work hard.

They’ve worked in a variety of sectors and always, always prioritized hiring all Indigenous teams. I love this. They hire and cheer for the underdogs all the time, most likely because that’s what they were, perpetual underdogs.

Now that I live with them, I can walk into their office and ask my own questions about running my business. My Dad, with a pup on his lap usually, is keen to advise and offer his experience and knowledge. Just the other day, we sat and talked about leadership at different stages of process and I felt so fortunate to be given so much knowledge on how to support and motivate teams. Mom usually comes in and nods to Dads advice, her powerful assertion is in this quiet approval.

I think though, what I love most about living with them is their ability to create a home filled with constant unconditional love. This is not to say we don’t have challenges. All families do, and Indigenous families inherit a specific set of challenges and we are no exception. My parents and family work incredibly hard for our Sunday dinners. It’s work. They’ve been explicit that they want to create a family unit and we all work at that but their love is unconditional to the unit.

No matter if we’re fighting or challenging each other. If I’m arguing with my Dad about the contemporary politics of Indigenous diaspora or with my Ma whose constantly telling me to be “nicer” to white people. They love me, they love my two sisters, they love their extended family, they love unconditionally.

I am so grateful that I have a home to go to where Indigenous love is constant, it’s nourished and prioritized. A place where I hear my Mom and Dad tell each other that they love each other on a daily basis, they hug each other with joy, where my Dad brings my Ma a cup of decaf in bed every morning.

Every day, every moment, through all of their incredibly challenging and accomplished lives, for 48 years, they’ve been supporting one another and in service to their relationship. Their love story, is the greatest relationship I’ve been fortunate enough to bear witness to, a Syilx and Ktunaxa man and a Tsilhqot’in and Dakelh woman, deeply loving one another for 48 years.

I believe their Interior Salish love is an act of Indigenous continuance and induction of blood memory that has kept my peoples alive and powerfully present for thousands of years. Indigenous resilience and its brilliance, is the humble understanding that our love is what keeps us alive.

I am learning that Indigenous love is always, always the answer. And for 48 years, my parents have been graciously and rigorously, embodying this teaching.

To my Mom and Dad, the greatest and constant teachers of my life, limelet and sechanalyagh for showing me that a life filled with Indigenous love, is the answer to a peaceful existence.

Thank you, for creating a home for me to always come into, live in and learn from. Congratulations on your 48 years being together, I am beyond proud to be your daughter.

With great respect for you Mom and Dad, and deep Salish love,

Feisty, (which has been their nickname for me since I was 2.)

p.s enjoy your Red Lobster, I’m also still available to come crash your dinner tonight. HA!

p.p.s I’m working on writing their love story as a movie, currently in draft entitled, Jimmy and Rose. ❤️

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