Creating Space for Stories and Self: Daylyn Machinine’s Journey of Pride and Healing
“It's challenging to find out who you are in spaces that don't nurture what you need to grow into that person. I could have easily followed into the repetitive cycle of alcohol and substance abuse. But I didn't want my younger siblings to follow in my footsteps through that path, so I chose to fully embrace myself for who I was, and pray for the courage and strength to walk this way of life,” Daylyn Machinine shares.
They are a two spirited person from Kawacatoose First Nation, raised by their mom, along with five other siblings. Machinine grew up in a duplex on the west side of the city in what they describe as a safe, quiet neighborhood, attending Catholic elementary school where students had a reputation for being nicer. The support of family, their mom and grandparents, was important to Machinine and they are inspired by their younger siblings.
“Losing family members at a young age has taught me how important it is to learn how to heal.”
Machinine developed depression and anxiety after loisng an auntie and changed schools in hopes of feeling like themselves again. They graduated from a cultural school where they felt safe and could smudge alongside students like them, praying before lunch and feating at the change of seasons. That school was like home and the place where a seed was planted to heal from their family. “Intergenerational traumatic cycles that played behind the scenes in our family has taught me a lot has taught me how much more I needed to learn from my own healing journey,” they recall. Their two-spirit identity was a barrier to their healing.
“My focus had become intergenerational healing, and to do that I needed to invest in myself.”
Machinine went to school in Prince Albert, dreaming of creating Indigenous documentaries and working with Indigenous stories. Attending a White-dominant school, Machinine struggled with self-doubt and feeling intimidated and took a break for a year to decide what they really wanted to do. They took a landscaping job for a year until they met Kelley Bird-Naytowhow who introduced them to Story Catchers, an Indigenous research team studying pathways to youth resiliency and health equity.
“I had to go back and work on my own medicine wheel to be able to work with other people's stories.”
The theme of their project was protection and how we protect ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and they had an objective to research ceremony and our relationship with ceremony. They would attend sweat lodge, sundance and learning how to hunt, participate in sharing circles and explore Indigenous values while traveling across Canada.
These days Macinine is a video editor, working with an International Indigenous Speakers Bureau, an organization that connects Indigenous speakers to Western organizations that are wanting to learn about more about Indigenous stories. Machinine graduated from Saskatchewan Polytechnic and now helps make educational short videos for students in classrooms. It took them a year to learn how to break down the knowledge while preserving the stories, pieces that can easily get lost with a non-Indigneous video editor. Now they love sharing the finished product with their team and seeing the emotional resposnes to the content.
Now that they are doing what they love, their advice for Indigeous youth is “Follow your heart. Take a leap of faith.” They took a leap of faith and overcame barriers to get where they are today. One of the most impactful experiences they had was coming out to their mom. Machinine’s mom is sober and kept an alcohol-free home and always sacrifice her needs for the sake of her children’s. She valued her children’s education and passed down what she could of her traditional teachings, given the family history of residential school attendance. The teachings she passed down created a lot of tension and anger for Machinine, because they were very strict about how to be a woman, which made expressing themselves as a Two-Spirit person challenging.
“I resented her for the longest time for controlling that part of me but now I'm thankful because I now know who I am.”
They worried about upsetting their mother’s expectations about how they should act given the hetero-cis and Western norms. Machinine woudl wear a chest binder and their mother would be upset by this. Learning about residential school experiences helped Machinine contextualize this response and where the teachings came from. After hearing about so many Two-Spirit people being kicked out of their homes for who they are, they waited to share their identity with their mother until they had their own safe space and independence.
That difficult conversation happened by text message and initially there was a lot of heartbreak on both sides, with their mother expressing denial and shock. Later, their mother responded again and said how she had no right to judge them, and that Creator had lent them to her as her child. She told Machinine that it wasn't her responsibility to tell them how to live, but to make sure they were loved as who they were. “This was the first time I've felt such a big shift of love in my life,” they recall.
A former registered nurse, Machinine’s mother gave up her career to care for her children. Now, she beads and fries bannock to sell at craft sales during the holiday season and beads Two-Spirit flags and pride hearts during Pride month to show appreciation for their child. “I'm very thankful to have grown through such a cycle with her,” Machinine beams.
Moving forward, Machinine hopes to trust themselves more and to believe the skills and the knowledge that they’ve gained are enough to do more than ever, whether that involves making their own films or working with Storycatchers youth. “I definitely know that I want to work towards creating a space for more Indigenous video editors, video developers and Indigenous production,” they share. After growing up in a space that didn’t nurture what they needed to grow into who they were, they want to create a supportive space to help Indigenous creatives grow into who they want to be.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.