Hair

Years ago a dear friend and I were graced with the opportunity to be taken in by a beautiful Gwitchin family while hitchhiking in the Northwest Territories. 
We were offered a glimpse into their world.
Inside that glimpse there was grief, there was hope, there was love, there was family, there was culture.
Part of all of that was their grandson.
Whom they were intending on raising as much as they could in their traditional cultural way. At least in as much of a way as they could overcome in the world of western culture that had forced it's way into their lives. Their parents lives. Their grandparents lives. 
He was to let his hair grow long. 
He was to be raised by his grandparents. 
He was to care for them when they could no longer care for themselves.
He was to learn the language.
The only time he was to cut his hair was when there was a loss in his family.
A sign of grieving. A sign of loss.

So much culture has been lost. Maybe that's why a short haircut is so common in men. Who may purposefully turn their backs on culture. Who have lost touch with mother earth. To keep up with the times. To be wooed into a life shy of emotions. Short of connections to anything deeper than the skin. To live a life under the spell of gender division, of stereotypes, of discrimination.
A spell I lived much of my life under.
I was raised with a buzz cut. Never reaching out. I was a boy. 
I was a grandson. 
When I got older I let my hair grow long, and I realized more and more the connection I felt to what really mattered, and more and more to how it affected the stereotypes, and discrimination that were placed on me. The distance that came with being different, with being aware. The western culture that I was raised with.
Cut my hair short.
See my grandparents on holidays.
Let them take care of themselves or have a stranger do it.
Speak English.
Cut my hair short.
My Oma passed away this past week. 
She never liked my long hair.
But she did think it was beautiful.
Same colour as her moms.
Auburn.
So I cut it short. After 4 years of growth.
I've had to cut my losses.
Change course. 
Because I realize that there is much to grieve.
There is also much to be grateful for.
Even though I wasn't there to take care of my Oma in her old age.
{That isn't what either of us would have accepted}
I am so grateful for the time that she was here, and for her love.
Despite our differences.
Although I wish for a different culture than what persists. 
I am also grateful for a culture of acceptance, and reconciliation that I have found.
There is still a lot of grace to be grateful for.

 

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I would like to take this opportunity to draw attention to those who have lost a loved one, or to those who have lost their hair as a result of cancer. 
Last year a beautiful young boy named René Antonio Soto Taylor, who left behind a trail of joy, died due to Neuroblastoma. 
This year our friend Pilar's daughter, Tree, entered into the world of childhood cancer. 
There's no end of possibilities to what, and when, life and death might come, but the best strides to take are those of love, and courage, and support. 

Click on the links below to find out more about Tree and René.
Tree
René