(COURTESY KANIEHTIIO HORN)
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I have many memories even though some are fragmented. I was four going on five and I remember playing with the other kids who were in the Treatment Centre. We would steal chocolate bars and stuff from the journalists.
I remember having Kanien’kéha classes with Loran Thompson, an attempt to bring some normal life for us kids, learning about the plants and how to count.
We played hide and seek in the Pines in the Warrior’s bunkers. I have distinct memories, more flashes of being in the basement hiding with wet kerchiefs on our faces to protect us from the teargas.
I remember wetting the bed one night because they would fly around and shine the helicopter lights in our windows. I see in my memory my cousin Kawe Horne, Spudwrench’s daughter, taking care of me and just white bright lights in the room and chaos.
I remember when we came out and I could see the ‘good guys’ (journalists) on the road past this spiky pole on the ground, (my sister) Waneek and I were going towards it and then suddenly we were on the ground. That’s when she was stabbed. I also remember sleeping on the bus afterwards, getting ready to go to the army prison. They wouldn’t let us off to pee so I peed my pants.
One thing I have gone through is realizing the severity of what we experienced at such a young age. It was something I was proud to be a part of as a teen and young adult, but then as I got older I looked at my nieces who were four and I realized what we experienced then, and the aftermath was so incredibly violent and awful for anyone, let alone a child.
Learning at such a young age that people hate you, not because they know you, but because of who you are and what you represent, is pretty heartbreaking.
People say I seemed totally fine after we got out of TC, and as I’ve gotten older I find it extremely irritating when people assume that just because we were children, just because I was fouryears-old, that I don’t have any memories of that time. That is simply untrue.
Those, in fact, are some of my earliest memories and those memories have shaped a lot of who I am today. Children, no matter what age, may not be able to put what is happening into context, but we soak it all up. We can feel the tension and anxiety of the adults in an almost animalistic way.
Your high-alert system is rewired in your brain when you experience something like this. My brain as a child was rewired so my senses are on high alert always, it’s exhausting. I am sure I’m not the only one that has been affected this way from being a child during 1990.
I suffer from anxiety and I’ve come to learn a major part of my self-medicating with drugs and alcohol at an early age stems directly from that; a way to dull my sensory overload.
I’ve done a lot of work, especially in the last four to five years, trying to understand how this has affected my life. I am sensitive and now that I am pregnant and bringing a baby into this world, I can’t self-medicate to dull the anxiety.
I have to be healthy so I’ve started working with a PTSD/ trauma specialist to help me understand myself better, and who is helping me with healthy coping skills.
I also feel like it is a responsibility of mine, especially being in the public eye with my work (as an actress), to never let Canada forget what they did to our people 30 years ago.
I am living proof that their violence towards our people is not something of the far-gone past.