"Having open and honest conversations, is where we can each contribute to and support change."
Carrie Pacey
Manitoba Government Employee

Carrie Pacey is an FNIM provincial government employee of twenty-three years currently working in the Department of Consumer Protection and Government Services. She was a participant from the first Sharing Circle (ending December 2022) held with the Manitoba Government employees. Carrie supplied us with an impassioned testimonial about her whole Circles experience and her background. She also shared some interesting facts about her roots. “I am a member of the Esquimalt First Nation in BC and can trace my roots back 8 generations on this continent, from coast to coast. My 2nd Great Grandfather was Mi’kmaq and My 2nd Great Grandmother was Coast Salish. He traveled from Prince Edward Island to Vancouver Island when he was very young and met her. Their descendants are sprinkled all along the West Coast, in both Canada and USA.”

Indigenous Speaks: My very personal story

by Carrie Pacey

I just finished a webinar and cried. I have been through a lot during this pandemic. Most of my tears have been due to overwhelming stress and fear and loneliness. But today, my tears are of hope.

I am currently participating in a Circle of Reconciliation. Today was week 5 in a 10 session program (once a week for 90 minutes). After the webinar, today, I was completely overwhelmed with tears of hope and relief and commitment. I am healing in a way that I didn’t think possible and I owe it to the participants of the Circle – both Indigenous and non-indigenous, who quickly gained my trust. Before I knew it, I was sharing things I’ve never said out loud before about who I am and what I think.

To be honest, before the first Circle, I was prepared to fight to be heard. To make a stand and reaffirm to non-indigenous peoples that the hidden history of Canada’s birth is true and that the oppression still happens today.

But I struggle with my own identity. Who was I to set the record straight? I am only recently connecting with my band, which I am finding difficult, as my First Nation is located on the south end of Vancouver Island and I am in Manitoba. Also… I have the palest face on my reserve.

When I spoke for the first time in the Circle, I felt the need to explain my pale skin. Before I knew it, I was talking about my sister and how she inherited the brown skin and I inherited the long hair of my ancestors. My father is also pale skinned whereas his brother was very obviously native. These differences in skin color give my sister and I very different perspectives about racism. My sister has experienced racism directly. I, on the other hand, heard it expressed without the speaker knowing I was Indigenous.

When I first contacted my band, I was surprised at their reaction to me. I was surprised and hurt to experience immediate distrust because of the color of my skin. I never understood how my sister could feel so hurt by total strangers. The hurt was immediate and very deeply felt. Another surprise, though, was how that the trust issue was handled by on-reserve members of my band. It was carefully explained to me in a very respectful and open way. I truly admire how quickly my cousins gained my trust.

I have finally realized that my voice can be bigger than sister’s. Truthfully, my sister depends on my voice more now than ever as she is either murdered or missing – I know not which as her apartment door was found broken down in 2011. She has not been seen since. My commitment to reconciliation is for her as much as it is for me. Perhaps with enough healing in the world, my sister will come home.

I want to encourage all Manitoba employees to sign up for a Circle of Reconciliation. Having open and honest conversations, is where we can each contribute to and support change. You just might be surprised at the welcome you receive!