Hi! My name is Hayden Reeve!
You might recognize my last name as I am the daughter of one of the Mamas! I am going to tell you about my experience at YouthWrite®. For a little introduction, it is a non-profit organization with camps for children who love to write. There is also a separate camp for adults who also enjoy writing! Today though, we are going to be discussing the camp for, well, youth!
Something that I think is quite important and an absolutely excellent characteristic about YouthWrite is the fact that they have a figuratively speaking, bubble type of deal around them.
I’m Teneil Whiskeyjack. I am originally from Saddle Lake Cree Nation and a mother of 2. My daughter is 17 and my son is 7, both at different stages in their lives. As a single mother and working artist, the demands of career, life and our own autonomy in systems that can make us feel depleted, it can be challenging to find the balance in it all. The expectations we put on our ourselves as mothers, always asking “am I doing this right?” Truth is, there is no manual to parenting and parenting looks different for many in terms of culture, values, family traditions and beliefs. Becoming a mother for the first time at such a young age, I admittedly didn’t know myself well enough to give reverence to a tender, compassionate, and patient relationship that I needed within myself. As time moved forward, I wanted to find peace in my journey and the grounding my children and I needed and deserved. I looked at the both of them and wanted them to see a mom that was vibrant, strong, present and healthy. As women, we are taught to put others before ourselves, leaving no room for our own curiosities, or relationships to our bodies and spirit. Going back to my culture and ceremony as an Indigenous woman meant going back to land-based practices, asking myself what it means to me to be a nehiyaw iskwew (cree woman) today, learning to ask for help within safe spaces of community and kin and reminding myself that parenting is one of the most sacred responsibilities we carry as life givers. I believe our children choose us to be their parents before they are born.
I was an artist growing up. I loved to tell stories in various ways. I took a step back from creating all together for many years and what was once my solace, was no longer existent as I allowed myself to live for other’s expectations of me, in the confines of societal pressures, and a life from the choices I made that wasn’t in alignment to my truth. I doubted my aspirations and capabilities until there came a shifting cycle in my womanhood where I wanted to gain deeper insight to who I was and why I walked in footsteps that no longer resonated with me or my heart.
The day I received the phone call to come and sub at my children’s school it dawned on me I hadn’t been in a classroom for 8.5 years! I had gone in to do Islamophobia sessions and worked with my own children but hadn’t done a whole school day since before Manessa was born.
I hadn’t planned to be a stay-at-home mom for that period of time. It just happened that way. I’m sure people wonder what kept me at home for so long. I was just so attached to my kids. I didn’t feel comfortable sending Manessa to daycare. There is nothing wrong with daycare but I just couldn’t do it. Then when I felt I was just about ready to get back to work and she was in school full time, we had Malik. So I started that whole process all over again. By the time they were both full-time, they were in 2 different schools 20 mins apart. One started at 8:15 am and the other at 9:00 am. I couldn’t commit to subbing let alone working full time. Instead, I spent my days driving back and forth between school, errands, and extracurricular activities.
It’s hard to pick the perfect potluck dish. You want something easy to prep, a dish that will feed a crowd, and something that’s easy to transport.
Don’t worry Mamas, we’ve got you! We’ve partnered with Alberta Turkey and have created the perfect pot luck dish: Turkey Buffalo Mac n Cheese. And the best part? EVERYTHING was made in an Instant Pot because we know you have zero time this time of year. By using the Instant Pot we’ve also cut out on all the dishes you have to do. This is literally a one pot meal!
I don’t celebrate Christmas, I never have. I grew up in beautiful Jasper National Park. Although now it is a lovely diverse community, when I was growing up in the 90’s it wasn’t so diverse. There were not even a handful of Muslim families and basically 2 Arab families. Finding a sense of community based on my faith and heritage was impossible. Luckily for me, although predominantly Caucasian, the community of Jasper National Park is made up of some of the most amazing, supportive and accepting people I have ever met. We weren’t the only minorities, but for me it sure seemed so!
For those of you familiar with the Devon River Valley Trail in Voyageur Park, right on. For those of you who don’t, go. Especially if you have early bird kids, or if you are one!
A friend and I went on a Saturday morning, met at 530AM in the parking lot, and by golly, nary a soul in sight. We didn’t run into one person on the path and upon returning to our vehicle, there were just a few fellas fishing under the bridge.
There are a few fire pits with picnic tables along the river that would just be amazing with the fam jam and the “beachy” part we came across would entertain my kids for HOURS just throwing rocks in. Didn’t bring them this time – mama needed a break but next time!
Promises of a waterfall, a creek, a canyon, and candy are the things that get my kids hiking. Here are 11 family-friendly waterfall hikes so, Mamas load up your playlist with TLC and start the car.
A short walk from the parking lot along Miette Road.
This popular family hike is a choose your own adventure. From a short hike; viewing the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bridge. Or for a longer less traveled route park at the sixth bridge and walk the entire canyon in reverse order to the first bridge, a 7 km return hike.
30 km south of the Jasper townsite go early or late to miss the crowds. If you have the time walk down the stairs to the base of the Athabasca River and check out the inukshuks.
55 km south of Jasper check out Upper & Lower Sunwapta Falls. Short on time, the Upper Falls are a short walk from the parking lot. The lower Sunwapta Falls is a 3.2 km return hike.
Keep driving south on the Icefields Highway (93) to hike this 3.2 km return trail. The trail initially runs parallel to the highway before turning left to follow a narrow canyon where you view a series of waterfalls before ending at Stanley Falls. A smaller version of Maligne Canyon, but with no railing so stay safe. Beauty Creek to Stanley Falls parking lot is a small pullout approximately 88 km south of Jasper on the north side of Highway 93. You may have to drive past the pullout until you can safely turn around depending on the direction you are driving.
I am that mom. While we all used to have adventures, tips, and fun stuff to share with you, this pandemic has me at a loss.
My family doesn’t go anywhere.
The most exciting thing we’ve done in the last year is a walk in the River Valley, right after that little dump of snow. It was magical, and our COVID pup Missy enjoyed herself immensely. My poor daughter had a hard time getting back up these stairs, cause, well, we don’t do anything!
And we checked out one of the Edmonton swings, just you know, for something to do on the weekend.
I don’t have the ambition or drive to plan anything.
My kids spend A LOT of time on their devices. Most of the time it is connected to their friends via Kids Messenger while playing games, and this is essentially their socialization outside of school so I’m not taking that away from them. I want to run away completely. The mountains, the ocean, anywhere but here. But hubs and I both work, and we need to work and we are lucky to work. And we don’t really have anywhere to escape to. I also am very cheap and don’t want to spend money….cause maybe if I save it, when this is all over we can go somewhere so far away and cool, it’s like COVID was just a blip.
In June 2020, I found myself pregnant with my second child. I rolled my eyes at becoming a part of the now famous “Covid-baby club.” It’s a popular club for a reason and I was now a happy member. We had just recently and successfully hosted our 8th annual SkirtsAfire Festival in March, about a week before the lockdowns began. I remember enjoying the spring and the start of summer, feeling optimistic that in a month or two, things would return to normal and we would all get back to our festival city as planned. Then slowly but surely, things started getting postponed, then canceled, and our case numbers took a sharp turn for the worse. Through it all, as I grew this baby mostly isolated to my home, we planned for SkirtsAfire 2021: a return to indoor in-person performances in a safe way.
Having a baby in a pandemic is different. This baby will be welcomed into the world with masks and the strong scent of hand sanitizer and the rough touch of overly-washed chapped hands. No gatherings of friends and family to hold and kiss the fresh being that just entered the world. Instead, there will be more screen time than I’d like to admit my newborn will have, more time spent with me on my phone texting and emailing pictures and updates, more time spent alone, just our small family. I think of my friends who have had babies in 2020 who have no family in the city, most out of the country even, who have had no relatives allowed to visit and have no known date in the future they’ll get to meet the new addition. My sisters live in Hong Kong and I don’t know when they will get to meet their new nephew. Things I never thought I’d need to feel sad about before.