This weekend, I was in Saskatoon to attend a conference put on by an organization called Canadian Roots Exchange. The conference was about bridging the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous youth.
Of about 150 people who attended the conference, I was one of maybe 10 non-native people.
We They talked about what it means to be native, the 8th fire, Idle No More, spiritual practices, creation stories, the environment, their place in society, their elders. They talked about working to overcome the scars left by the residential schools, even today. I had nothing to add or contribute, and that’s good. I have so much to learn, and I’m still processing everything. My clothes still smell like burning sage. It’s incredible to see this group of youth who are ready to overcome past struggles, ready to make a change and a commitment to a clean and healthy life to save their histories and cultures, and to raise their children in a way that respects their elders and traditions. I learned what it means to smudge, and what it means to fight, sometimes silently, to fight for your religion and your beliefs. I learned about their struggle to stay true to themselves, when surrounded by their peers who are still lost. I learned about environmental racism, poison island and chemical valley. I learned the word Anishinaabe, among others. I was embarrassed when asked to introduce myself in a non colonial language. I couldn’t. One of the other non-native women at the conference wrote a poem about the guilt she felt – “I feel guilty, even though I was not there. I am white, they were white. I feel guilty.” The thing is, though, that they didn’t care that we are white or non-native. They’re here to build bridges, and they’re looking for allies. I got to spend the weekend with a group of youth who are ready for a change. What a rich exchange between people who have so much to offer, what an honor to have been a part of it.
I also just found out that the Nishiyuu Walkers are reaching Ottawa tomorrow, after a two month journey. They are thousands strong, here to make their voices heard, to prove that first nations care and are working together. Harper won’t listen. But we need to.
In my last post about carry-on luggage, I was going away for three weeks, and I managed to fit everything into a rolling suitcase and a laptop bag. I actually ended up bringing a whole suitcase, because I was going back to my parents’ and figured it was a good opportunity to move more stuff here.
This time, however, I am travelling with carry-on luggage only. I have to bring more things because it’s winter where I’m going, and I am bringing a smaller bag than usual.
Here is the context:
I am going on a five day business trip to Saskatoon, where it is currently -16 degrees. In order to get to the airport from here, I have to take a ferry, a bus and a sky train. Once I’m in Saskatoon, I will have access to a vehicle, but the snow, and my trek to get to Vancouver airport, mean that I am not interested in bringing a rolling suitcase.
First of all, use Vanessa’s advice about what to pack. I’m bringing 5 tops and two pairs of pants, three sweaters, and one pair of indoor shoes – I’m going to a conference and I don’t want to wear my winter boots all day. My Toms shoes are ideal for this, because they take up no room in my backpack.
I have finally, finally found a way of packing that works for me! I have always been a fan of rolling my clothes so that they take up less space, but I was forever unrolling things while rummaging through my backpack, trying to find the parts for each day’s outfit. As of last week, I have started rolling outfits together. This wouldn’t work for a longer backpacking trip, but it is a wonderful solution for short trips with designated outfits. Last weekend, I was on another four day trip, in a different hotel every night. It didn’t matter which way I had packed my bag or which outfit I felt like wearing – every night, I was able to take everything out, and repacking in the morning took me 4 minutes, because the unworn outfits were still rolled together. I also roll up the worn outfits the same way, with dirty socks and undies on the inside. When I get home, I just toss each roll in the laundry bin. This time, I’m staying in the same hotel for the whole weekend, so I will unpack and hang my clothes to look more presentable!
As you can see from the picture above, I am also bringing a few other things: my laptop, some files for work, my cell phones, charger cables, and my Kindle (indispensable). I LOVE my Osprey laptop bag, but I don’t want to bring it, because it doesn’t fit comfortably when I’m wearing my backpack and running between buses and ferries and trains, and even less so when I’m wearing a winter jacket. My Herschel bag has a handy laptop sleeve on the inside. It’s not the biggest, but works for my macbook. I packed up everything to take pictures for this post, and then had to take out my laptop to write it. Unfortunately, this plan is not perfect. When my laptop is in it’s protective case, it’s really hard to pull out once the bag is full. Not ideal for security, or watching Netflix during my layover. However! That’s why I chose the purse that I’m bringing – it is just large enough to fit my laptop! It certainly doesn’t offer much padding, but it helps in getting from point A to point B when I don’t have time to unpack and repack.
Beyond all of that, what’s left are my toiletries. I’m not gone for long, and I’m staying in hotels, so I don’t need to bring too much. I have a nifty folding toothbrush, mini toothpaste, mini perfume vaporizer, and mini shampoo. I actually have these because I’m lazy – over the next two months, I am repeatedly away for 5 days at a time, with 2-3 days home in between each trip. I prefer to have travel-only things, so that I don’t have to keep taking things in and out of my bathroom (the annoying wet toothbrush when you leave in the morning!), or run the risk of forgetting something at the last minute. My travel deodorant, hair stuff, toothbrush and a few pieces of jewellery stay in my cute little Cath Kidston bag, and I replenish as I run out. The perfume (the Travalo is a brilliant perfume dispenser – you fill it with your favourite perfume, and it’s TSA friendly!), shampoo and toothpaste go in my 3-1-1 bag, which I keep right next to my laptop, so that it’s handy to pull out at security.
And that, my friends, is how you pack five days into a backpack! I’m a little bit annoyed that it’s winter in Saskatoon. Last week, I went to the Okanagan and stayed at a chain hotel where there were fitness facilities. I brought some light running shoes, my workout clothes, and my bathing suit. This time, because of the weather, I am wearing boots on the plane, and my scarf, tuque and jacket have taken the place of my workout stuff (but that’s ok, because who am I kidding).
What it really means is that in the summer, I’ll be able to easily pack 7 days worth of outfits into this bag, and with my bathtub laundry skills, I’ll be able to travel this way for the whole summer!