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Orianna - On the Land 1On The Land
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So, I have always lived in Kitchener. And for the past 15 years, I've lived in the same house. So, when I was asked to be photographed and share my experience living on this land, I thought about how boring my story would be compared to like other people's. But after reflecting on it for a few days, I realized that it isn’t boring, it's just unique, which is good. So, I never really felt connected to the land in the same way that other people, especially Indigenous people were supposed to feel connected. When I looked around me, I never really saw an environment that I felt comfortable being myself in. Because I never really spend time in nature because there isn't many natural areas in the city. I didn't have a good positive representation of Indigenous people in KW, because there wasn't really that many. So, I always felt more comfortable visiting Cape Croker, which is my parents’ home territory. There, I was able to spend time with nature and my culture. There's like, a lot of natural areas, and trails that I felt had history because they were surrounded by Native people. All of my family lives there as well, so I just felt more comfortable there as a child. Then after visiting there on the weekends all the time, I'd come back home to Kitchener and feel disconnected again. But then, as I grew up, and spent more time alone in the city, I started to see all of the ways that I could connect to and feel comfortable here. So, for example, on my walks to school, I started to like to notice the beauty in the trees and the squirrels in my neighborhood. And I was able to visit natural areas or walk around the city by myself. So, I started to build my own relationship with the land. And so, then I was able to now like, look around and see an environment that I feel comfortable in. It's started to feel more like my territory and not other people's. I've also started to connect more of the Indigenous community in Kitchener Waterloo. Even though I'm not really actively involved in anything right now, I feel more comfortable here now because there's just more people and it feels more open to be myself. I'm also starting University next fall. And I've decided to go into Environment Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo, which I've always felt really, like, passionate about the environment and nature. So, learning about how we can fix environmental issues is really important to me. I also like how I'm staying in Waterloo, because now I can like further grow my relationship with this territory and you know, find myself more.

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