Charlene SanJenko always knew she was Indigenous.
It just took decades to prove it.
And now she is bringing hope to others through a pilot program starting this fall.
SanJenko, who lives on the Sunshine Coast, is a member of the Splatsin band and has known since she was five years old she is adopted, but it took until almost 50 to prove her Native status.
As a child removed from her community and placed into foster care, SanJenko often wondered where she belonged and struggled to feel at home anywhere.
“Being raised off-reserve, I did not experience the Indigenous culture, teachings or ways of knowing and being. But, I also experienced less racism, poverty, trauma and feelings of less-than,” she said.
“It’s a crazy trade-off, a spectrum of different types of pain, confusion, and fragmentation. Through a process of reconnection and reconciliation, I have lived the full circle, coming home to my whole self. I now have the opportunity to contribute my unique gifts back to the community.”
As an Indigenous impact producer, storyteller and media visionary, giving back to her community is what SanJenko is doing with a healing, community-based initiative that combines the power of Indigenous storytelling, digital media arts and the rippling impact of co-facilitated, small-group listening circles called Our Nation Heals.
With support from the Province of British Columbia, the Our Nation Heals pilot program will begin this fall.
Our Nation Heals is co-created and co-facilitated by former Splatsin Kukpi7 Wayne Christian and SanJenko.
"It is my hope that through the work of this important initiative and documentary and the conversations it will encourage, thousands of Indigenous brothers and sisters — off-reserve and on — can come home to our whole selves. For our families, and for our future as our nation heals, said SanJenko.
"Our journey in life is marked with many moments of learning and growth. Through this series Coming Home, we lay a foundation of healing for the thousands of children who were lost but not forgotten by the systemic genocide of Canada. We are responsible for passing on a legacy of intergenerational healing to those yet unborn. Join us in the telling of this story,” said Wenecwtsin (Big Voice That Speaks The Truth).
Christian and SanJenko invite Splatsin community members between the ages of 18 to 35+ and parents of young children to participate in a series of interactive listening circles, explore tools and contribute to a community dialogue that will explore an implementable framework to heal.
“Your vision, your voice, and your story are a vital part of re-imagining the future vision, of building hope, and strengthening understanding with a clear pathway for Nation-based healing utilizing both traditional and contemporary strategies,” said SanJenko.
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