Between talks of “Keep Jumbo Wild” tattoos, endless Shrek references, and renditions of Abba’s finest, there are meaningful moments.  Moments that make me stop.  Moments that make me think, “This just changed my entire perspective in the span of a second.”  It seems to be a daily occurrence for me on this course.

We have ten days left.  Ten days to sing ourselves to the verge of passing out on every steep uphill, ten days to grab the trowel and take off running (because every poop out here is an emergency), ten days to kid ourselves we have enough time left.  Ten days.

I sit here perched on a rock, a glacier behind me and a range of snow-covered, jagged peaks in front, trying to reflect on one single experience that has stood out for me, but with this group of women, every moment is HILARIOUS.  The crazy, loud-mouthed sarcasm runs rampant in our group, just ask our instructors if you can get a word in over our voices.   We often joke that this section of our course is the “Girls’ Trip,” with all female instructors and students; you best believe we’ve taken advantage of silt glacier facials and liberating adventures.

This section out here in Jumbo, British Columbia, has definitely been the most influential thus far.  We’ve learned about the controversial Glacier Jumbo Ski Resort issue and whether this multi-million dollar eyesore on the landscape will be developed.  We’ve practiced self-defense (I’m basically on a Mulan level at this point) and we drummed and sang with children of the Ktunaxa Nation, all while being led and instructed by two of the most powerful and intelligent women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Surrounded by compassionate, self-aware women, it’s hard not to reflect on the growth that I feel like I’ve seen in myself.  I’m a pretty critical person.  I’m loud, argumentative, and sometimes a little too much to handle.  I like to think that I’m strong-willed; my mother would argue I’m stubborn.  Learning from Daisy and Katie (our instructors for this section) has taught me basic life lessons such as how to identify people’s values and find common ground with someone who has opposing views than me.  Having compassion and humility to understand a person’s belief so that I can have an effective discourse rather than get defensive and never find an actual solution is crucial if we want to enact change within our society.  To all the policy-makers out there, you better watch out.  I have a lot of compassion and I know how to use it.

For some, it’s difficult to find that humility and compassion.  Especially in our Western way of thinking, compassion and humility are hard to come by.  But there are other ways of thinking.  Traditional Ecological Knowledge, a way of knowing and living that many indigenous nations practice and a huge focal point of our course stems from principles of compassion and humility.  Knowing that everything and everyone has different values and backgrounds but recognizing what you have in common with them, being humble and knowing your place in the world; both of these redeeming qualities are absolutely necessary if I want to be able to reach as many people as possible and actually have a chance at fighting for what I believe in.

Thanks WRFI for providing me with the tools to access something I’ve had all along.  You’ve influenced me more than you’ll ever know.