Components: Self-guided Learning

Three green gears working togetherComponents: Self-guided Learning

Timing: 15 minutes, flexible
Mode: In class; Online

Ya’Ya Heit makes a very clear connection between Indigenous experiences of mental health and wellbeing and the historical and contemporary context of colonialism.  Begin by having your students read the Learning Lens and Components in Situ sections as background and examine Heit’s art and read his poetry. Done online or in class, this work can be a preparation for the Visualizing Colonialism activity or a written or spoken reflection or a discussion on Ya’Ya Heit’s art and writing. Have students use the following question as a guide:

  • What do these pieces of art reveal about the link between colonialism, mental health, and wellbeing for Indigenous peoples?

Poem: Ya’ Ya Mourns His 2 Dead Brothers

On may 14, 2003 Yvon Michael Starr died He
wuz my bro
Now he no longer shares this world with me This
world has become smaller
And I cried for him to live again To
run thru the jungle with me again
To live and laugh like we did when we were young We
had some crazy times
Wild crazy and free
Together we had known true pure freedom
Not a worry or a want
But those times past us years ago
Life took us far apart
But my brother stayed in my hear And
he crossed my mind often Once in a
while I worried about him And wished
he wuz near

My bro Andy Clifton died in 1999
Am Hon wuz his real name
He wuz the first person I knew with AIDS I
wuz afraid back then
And so wuz he
AM Hon wuz afraid to live So
he went to died in Lupert And I
wuz afraid of his AIDS
But I went to see anywayz
I couldn’t watch him died
So I went by the Skeena River to fight demons
And I watched his Rainbows
Taking him home

Both of my dead brothers had AIDS when they died
That made their deaths hurt xtra

Sculpture: Me & My 2 Dead Bros

sketch of proposed totem carving
Me and My 2 Dead Brotherz – the only sketch I need
carved wooden totem pole
Me & My 2 Dead Brotherz – Charles Heit, 2003

detail from carved wooden totem - 2 coppers
Base: I hold Big Snake which is turning into fireweed; 2 coppers show Many Faces, Killer Whale and Grizzly Bear of the Waters
detail from carved wooden totem - face
Mid-section: meself wearing a ring of cedar bark; holding 2 fireweed plants and my bros and me are Fireweed clan
carved top of wooden totem pole with two figures
Top: My 2 bros in a field of fireweed in the sky