08 Feb The Phoenix
Growing up all over Canada, I was lucky to have been exposed to many different cultures, which allowed me to hear so many unique stories. The tale of the Phoenix is one of the oldest stories in history but one that resonated with me on so many levels, both personally and professionally. While there are some differences culturally in how it’s told, the overall story remains. The story of the Phoenix is so powerful that you can find reference to it in music, cartoons, and literature. In many references of how the Phoenix came to be, it is said to have gone through a metamorphosis of flames and rose from the ashes.
So why does the story of the Phoenix resonate with me? Well, without going into too much detail, growing up life was not easy for myself or my family. Why you ask? Well, we grew up facing poverty, at times very poor living conditions. One parent battled addictions, mental and physical health issues. The other battled the scars of childhood trauma which manifested in depression and poor health. I took on a parental role in my family very early on as I was the oldest in the sibling group. So why do I feel a connection between my life and the story of the Phoenix? I see the flames being representative of the challenges I faced, such as having parents with mental and physical health issues, being parentified and being mistreated. Despite the challenges I faced, I feel that I have symbolically rose from the ashes just like the Phoenix.
Throughout my professional life, I have seen and witnessed others that have faced similar or more challenging trials, who have also been able to rise from the ashes and use their story as a way to become more powerful as individuals and community leaders. These individuals were baptized by the flames and while they have scars, they have accepted those and have been able to redefine who they are on their own terms, not allowing society or cultural norms to dictate who they are based upon their experiences.
The colors that I choose for the Phoenix were intentional as they represent the colors of change, much like the season of Autumn is a time of change. The red-orange hues are also representative of the flames that the Phoenix rises from or how fire has changing colors. Lastly, the colors represent the various indigenous groups, which has special importance to me as I identify as Metis and I always understood my father was of Mohawk decent; therefore my indigenous heritage has been an important aspect of my life.
This tale is a reminder to me that we all can rise from our challenges and our flames! Sometimes those flames with burn and leave scars but they do not have to define who we are. We can rise as the Phoenix from the ashes to be better than we were. Nor do we have to allow societal labels to define who we are because we wear these scars with pride and accept our stories as our truth. How do we do that? We have to be willing to be honest with ourselves; we have to be personally accountable; we have to recognize when things are not always our fault; we have to be willing to work hard; we have to live with intent and we have to forgive ourselves as well as others!