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  • Kim Senklip Harvey

What Does Our Happiness Rely On?

This is a question I saw on some brief doom scrolling on twitter this morning. It struck me as an important one to consider in this moment. For in challenging times I find we have the greatest opportunity to make conscious changes and have sustained transformations. A sort of vulnerability is omnipresent as the Earth shakes that I think as Indigenous peoples we've taken advantage of for thousands of years.

7 years ago I set an intention to rigorously start extracting colonization from all parts of myself, the Earth was shaking for me and I said I can't do this anymore, I don't want to suckle from this capital imperial tit any longer. It’s been a trying journey that I’m challenged by, grateful for, curious with and excited by. Decolonial work will span a lifetime and hopefully we will handoff this work to the next generation doing as much as we can, knowing it will go way beyond our fleeting time here.

This next stage of my decolonial work has been about self reliance of love, happiness and contentment. If you follow me on insta you know more about this but I have only begun to start thinking about dating again because I’ve spent over a year really troubling the dogma of my state conditioning and adherence to relationisms. For I would say that every intimate relationship I've ever been in has been an imperial love one. I was raised with Disney princess shit, wanting to get married and believing being loved by someone else marked a successful life. And boy did the state propaganda come crashing the fuck down as my decolonial work amped up.

One of the most profound evolutions of my spiritual work is re-building bonds with myself and environments that are nourishing and sovereign. As I was unconsciously living under imperial capitalism for many, many years - severing my connections and reconditioning myself to not make love and happiness transactional has been the most challenging and important aspect of my Salish Plateau continuance journey.

For the structure of imperial love is designed for people not adhering to state approved relations, “single” and heteronormative non-conforming, to be isolated, othered and disappointed. We get obsessed with state adherence which can look like compulsive dating, believing a sovereign life is failure and making “romcoms” about “never being the bride.”

Colonization has created a culture that conditions people to rely on the acquisition of things like dates, homes and lovers; ownership of others like attempting to controlling people's desire via jealousy; and capitalistic transactions in intimate relations, like striking a business deal (marriage) and clarifying contracts of goods exchanged, prenups, divorce settlements, child support, jewelry on predetermined calendar dates and so on, in order to be happy.

If we’re going to talk about embodied anti-racist work we must be investigating our own complicity of bowing to the crown in our relationships. The lack of interrogation into what consumes the majority of our time - our loving relations - which is exactly how the state will continue to oppress Indigenous, Black and Poc peoples and control it’s state agents (white folk/imperialists). Imperial love was constructed to be fragile and breed insecurity. It’s designed for reliance on others, gains, procurements and settlements.

I use to think it was funny when people would say “if I do this for my partner, I get a purse.” “If I give them this - it’s happy wife, happy life.” "If I do these chores, he will be nice to me." I would accept imperial rationale like "If I look this way - they won't cheat on me." "It's my job to put the kids to sleep, so I get to watch my shows uninterrupted." These constant negotiations structured on sex, goods and services and on one hand I respect the business acumen and on the other, I'm overwhelmed with how untroubled imperial love is. I'm daunted with how I can un-learn this type of relating when the western world is obsessed with its proceedings.

In my understanding of my teachings, many Indigenous nations had relational ceremonies that had some trade involved but a lot of it was not about acquisition to secure self worth and capital gain but rather work to make extensions outwards to nourish the community. Families hosting giant feasts for the community as gratitude for protecting and nurturing them. Partnerships spending significant time making gifts for the community that they gave out on their ceremony day. Inter-Nation "marriages" that honoured the bonds of surrounding peoples and territories - again for the good of the community.

Voyaging into Indigenous love has been something I've really been focusing on for my next two ceremonies, Break Horizons and The Mystics and my pilot I just completed, On The Plateau. These stories are founded on Indigenous peoples releasing ourselves from the structures, pressures and rules of what love can be. Love stories that go beyond time, gender and sex. Love stories that focus on truly being in love and in respectful relations with oneself and love stories in their embodiments unshackle our spirits from the confines of imperial capitalism.

The indoctrination of imperial love has been strong in me, but I will continue to work and fail at reconditioning how my loving relations are ignited, founded and live. Cause I cannot speak about Indigenous sovereignty in one breath and then march into a state approved imperial capitalistic relation in the next. But if there is one thing I'm sure of, it's that I know my happiness will never ever again be structured on relying on someone else and the transaction of goods and services.

It's sovereign Indigenous cosmic love I'm after.

With respect,


p.s On Dec 31st a good friend Taran Kootenhayoo passed away. You can find his gofund me here. I wrote about my friendship with Taran here. And to be honest I'm still in shock. I don't really believe it cause in the theatre world we see each other for periods of time and then we don't and we just expect to see our colleagues and friends again and Taran was 27, I honestly believed we'd be giggling at gigs for decades to come. I want to send love to his family and the community grieving the loss of such a joyful and loving Spirit. Love you lil Brother.

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