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CONTRIBUTION · 8th March 2013
Melanie Smoke
Yesterday i was chatting with a friend about the injustice in the justice department.

I was reminded of my dark past and thought ...I will share a little with you all about why I am the way I am and why I fight so hard for things I believe in.

I know many of you might find it hard to stomach (you may want to skip through this writing, so you don't have to look at something real...but please just take time to read it), and some of you might find it inspiring.

My parents separated when i was 4 1/2 yrs old. My mother was a LPN n my dad was a Halibut and king crab fisherman (both attended residential school).

When I was 5 yrs old just before I started kindergarten I was violently raped by a cousin who attended residential school (he was 17). My mother came home from work and could not get in our apartment. She finally did get in and I was in the bathroom (because hearing her and neighbors knocking I asked him if I could go pee, he finally let me go) standing there with blood and urine running down my legs.

She did not call the police or take me to the hospital ...instead she ran a tub of hot water and put me in it and repeated "this did not happen to you!".

I must have went into shock, because I don't remember what happened until she wanted to go to Hazelton (we lived in Prince Rupert).

I was freaking out telling her I did not want to go because I knew he would be there. We did go, and on the weekend my mother woke up hearing my muffled cry's of terror. She walked into the room and saw that cousin holding me up by my hair in one hand and a machete against my neck in the other. She screamed at him in a voice so loud it frightened even him and he let me go and he ran away.

Still no call to the police and trip to the hospital (back then most first nations knew that even if they called the authorities not much would be done when it is a "first nations issue" as she described to me later).

I lost my childhood innocence that day.
I LOST MY VOICE (from that day on when i spoke..you could barely hear me). She became a alcoholic.

We went on to move to other places and then finally settled in South Hazelton after she met my step father. My mother would always have other cousins live with us to subsidize her living expenses.

To make the long story short...I was abused by 2 other male cousins who lived with us and a couple other people (you will have to read my book to read the long version).

I could not tell our mother about these abuses without her beating me or blaming me because it happened. SILENCED AGAIN.

I put up with the abuses of those people, my mother, and witnessed daily violence until one day when I was 17 I took every single pill I could find.

MY SPIRIT BROKEN. In the hospital a nurse who noticed that even after my OD, I just wanted to die and I would probably try again...sat with me and cried " I can not let you die Melanie ...I don't know what is happening inside you ...but i will not watch you die".

I talked to my therapist and tried to tell him what was happening.

His diagnosis "a troubled teen who just wanted to get out of the house".

I talked to friends in high school, a neighbor and to a high school counselor.

I was bullied through out high school because of my demeanor (those bullies did not understand why I was the way I was quiet...and tried to be invisible) and because i was of mixed race.

I LEARNED I ONLY HAD MYSELF TO GET ME OUT OF THIS MESS.

I grew up and had kids of my own. On my 3rd child i suffered with major PTSD worse than I ever had it. I started counseling because I was hitting my own kids (and was blacking out with rage) and I did not want to continue the cycle of abuse.

THE HEALING STARTS WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH THE FIRE OF YOUR PAST AND HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE FOR YOUR BEHAVIOR.

I decided I was going to take the first offender to court. I did that because I felt that was important in getting back to me and healing that child inside me. He was found guilty of my charges, statutory rape and other charges on other people. He spent 1 year in jail and had a few years probation.

Even though I was not satisfied with this sentence I GOT MY VOICE BACK.

Years later I confronted another sexual abuser and I FORGAVE him and asked that he make amends to all the others he has abused.

I worked through my issues over the years and forgave my abusers, mother, step father, and father.

WITH THIS I GOT FREEDOM.

Through my life I have had various illnesses to fight through and came close to dying many times ...seems like I am always fighting.

I choose to fight for mother earth and clean water because even though I had a life with violence...I had teachers (my grand mother, step great grand mother, elderly woman neighbor, mother, 3rd grade teacher, and many others in my life who gave me words of wisdom and shared with me the importance of survival for me and the planet we live on.

SURVIVAL IS TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF, HEALING THE PAST, TAKING CARE OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT, BEING ABLE TO SEE A FUTURE.

I want clean air and water for my great grandchildren. I want a life for them without violence and grief for being first nations or a mixed race. IS HOPE TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR?
This is why I thank you, Melanie...
Comment by maggiejo johnson on 15th March 2013
Thank you Melanie for such an inspiring story. I am sincerely sorry for all your suffering and wish to thank you for sharing your struggles with us.

You are one of the bravest people I have come to learn of. Your story is uplifting in this respect:
- you shared about your personal struggles which must have been very difficult for you to disclose.
- you challenged those who caused harm
- you forgave in the case you deemed was appropriate
- you challenge others with your story, while bringing to the light the horrific and disturbing events that we don't tend to like to discuss or think about.
- you have provided this as a sequay for the rest of us to do the same.
- you have achieved your mandate

I wish you continued healing and blessings. Hold your head up high being the woman you are called to be.

Thank you again, Melanie.
Wow
Comment by Christie Brown on 11th March 2013
It's amazing that you went through so much, and lived to heal and to share your stories. Thank you.
Good for you!
Comment by Krystal Olson on 10th March 2013
Good for you for taking all of those negative experiances and not letting it get you down! I admire you my dear, you are one amazing, strong, and couragous woman - and mother - and you and everyone who knows you should be proud of that. Much much love to you.
wow
Comment by Claude Lagasse on 9th March 2013
I must admit that was a powerful story and I am happy to hear you got your voice back. It gives me hope for the other native or mixed race people
who have being through such a traumatic situation like what you have been through.
you give people hope. Thank you
I truly admire your strength
Comment by Diane Pakka on 8th March 2013
You honor International Women's Day in the truest form by sharing your history, how you overcame what many lack the courage to even admit to themselves has happened.
You are a real warrior, and I thank you for being my friend.