Sacred Matriarch Creative: Weaving Artistic Practices for Global Healing
“I’m kind of sparkly and star shaped and I've never fit well in a box,” Ecko Aleck explains. She is from the Nlaka'pamux Nation and is the founder and visionary of Sacred Matriarch Creative. “We facilitate healing and transformation for people and the planet, grounded with land based ancestral knowledge,” Aleck offers, describing the work of her business.
“Arts literally saved my life, like music, writing, being able to dance, all the works is what pulled me through some really hard times as a youth,” she recalls. Determined to push through so she could do what she wanted, she worked through boredom and disagreements with teachers in mainstream high schools. The lack of knowledge about Indigenous people frustrated her as the daughter of a residential school survivor.
She found her voice and a supportive environment when she learned in alternate schools that were a better fit and she navigated her education in her own artistic way. Later, she applied to the Art Institute of Vancouver’s professional Recording Arts program out of curiosity, where she learned about technology and digital arts. She felt compelled to bring those skills back to her family, her community and its youth.
"I think that being able to express creatively is one of the toolkits that we can utilize to support our well being as Indigenous people."
“I've always had a very vivid imagination, and I think that's what's made my world so fun now as an adult and an entrepreneur. Anytime I would start to head down a dark path, or feel like I was slipping away from myself, or feeling like I was alone, coming back to writing, music, dancing, were the things that helped me settle into wanting to be alive, wanting to continue on with my journey,” she recalls.
“When I found the connection to culture, through drumming, dancing, learning from mentors, and spending time on the land, learning about plants, that was when it was almost like this awakening inside, and I started to see the worlds of culture and arts being woven together. Together, those worlds are now what supports my well being,” she continues.
Her advice to someone making career decisions is not to feel constrained to stick to one path. “As Indigenous peoples, we are natural weavers, medicine keepers, knowledge keepers and storytellers. We have incredible ways of weaving together many skills to share many gifts that support our communities and the world.This is a time when the world needs Indigenous knowledge, medicines, healers, dreamers, believers and weavers. This is the time for those gifts to come forward,” she asserts.
She practices photography, videography, sound design, producing music, singing, performing spoken word poetry, rapping, traditional tattooing and facilitating. “There's just this whole world of creativity that I have brought together into what is now my business and it is what feeds my family,” she offers. Her business is structured to allow her creative freedom to use her gifts to support storytelling and sacred spaces.
Aleck refers to herself as a “digital shapeshifter” and her role changes based on where she is. “When I'm in community, I'm a digital witness… helping to capture, acknowledge and hold sacred that which we are already practicing,” she explains. A freelance artist for many years and a performer even longer, she’s found ways to weave together her gifts, though she doesn’t necessarily feel she fits in the industries they represent.
She carried those practices into her work at Coralus, formerly SheEO, when the founder invited her into brainstorming ways they could collaborate. At first they thought it would be social media content but it turned into transformational learning circles held in the virtual community over the course of two years. “These are teachings I've grown up with my whole life, and they seem normal and like they seem small, right? The small little things that are really the most impactful, and we don't realize that until we share them, trust them and trust that we have the voice to share them,” Aleck shares.
She stepped into a position called Global Indigenous Lead, to connect with Indigenous peoples around the world. She enjoyed the journey and remained until she felt it was time to step away and give life to something new. Now back in the community pursuing funding for her venture, her new ideas are being nourished by the community she built.
“We are giving our gifts but in giving our gifts, we are also co creating our own nourishing environment of people we know and trust and can lean on, when we aren't entirely certain on the next steps that we need to do,” she observes. She loves the novelty, excitement and creative freedom she has in what she does. Designing her own schedule, deciding what she takes on and creating sacred boundaries helps her take care of herself. Boundary setting is a practice that has taken her time to develop.
Something else she’s developed has been a feature length documentary, co created with three Indigenous storytellers and an award-winning director, funded through TELUS Originals. It shares the wisdom of elders, the need for connection to the land and the teachings required to heal it. She’s also been working on developing “a digital and physical ecosystem of wellbeing tools for whole human leadership, healing and transformation” and she’s got two albums out on Spotify.
In closing, she offers these words of encouragement, “I really just want to encourage our young people to believe in themselves. There's a lot of external narratives that are placed on us and they don't belong to us. So remember who you are. Remember that you are of the land, of the earth, the moon, the stars, and your dreams and the things you are passionate about are there for a reason. Trust those dreams, trust your gifts and just lean all the way into them. Forget what anyone else says. I really, really want to encourage you to believe in yourself. Because I do. I believe in you.”
Sparkly and star-shaped, Ecko Aleck never fit well in a box, but she creates circles wherever she goes. The founder and visionary of Sacred Matriarch Creative had her life saved by the arts and now she facilitates healing and transformation for people and the planet, grounded with land based ancestral knowledge. Weaving together an interdisciplinary practice, she is untethered from categories and creates artistic experiences that speak for themselves while giving voice to those who find themselves there.
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.