Growing Where You’re Planted: Taylar Belanger’s Healing Journey
“I've actually always been super connected with mother earth at a very young age to the point where I’d eats soil and dirt and I'd also go out and find earthworms and keep them as pets,” Taylar Belanger explained.
A meeting with another matriarch about five or six years ago helped her gauge her path. Belanger got very sick two years ago and needed to find an alternative bay to help herself heal outside of Western medicine.
I've just been very connected with plants my whole life to the point where I would feel and touch them and just feel a very strong connection with them.
Elders and healers told her, “You actually are supposed to be working with traditional medicine. So learn as much as you can and keep going down that path.” She found Wild Rose College that offers herbalism certificates and diplomas.
Currently in a three-year practical herbalism program, a further three-year clinical herbalism is next. She’s learning plant identification, herbology, the science behind plants, their medicinal properties, and how to identify them. She wants to use that information to help people in need with an alternative way for healing.
Her advice about leaving your home community for learning opportunities like she did is simple, “Never forget where you come from, because those are where your roots are. Always bring something back to the community so that you can show what you've learned and so that we can be better as a community as well.”
From a young age, she has been aware of energy and emotions and the powers they carry and how they influence people in their day to day lives. Because of this, she has found herself being comfortable spending time alone and managing how she responds to energies that surround her.
Music has always just been my go-to low key and I'm finally coming out with it.
As a youth, music was important to her and she would later bring that back into her world in her artistry through the work she does under her artist name, Soca. The notes and frequency of music were calming to her.
[Music] allows me to express in a way I would never be able to express with words. It also allows me to be creative.
One of her most recent musical expressions is a music video called Protector, which she considered a positive song. “That's essentially my call-out for us coming together as people and our men also coming in and being the protector that they're meant to be. I think we're all healing, and we're all in this process,” she explains.
As another creative outlet, Taylar is a self-taught traditional tattoo artist. A lot of her inspiration comes from petroglyph on rocks that carried Indigenous people's stories.
Her advice to youth is around being true to oneself. “Just stick to what you love, find out what you love to do and learn to master it. A lot of the time it's very common where we're forced to do something that is not really meant for our spirit and meant for us. But if we always do something that makes us happy, then we're going to be happy for the rest of our lives.”
Music, reading and picking medicine help Belanger manage her mental health. “Because I'm in the city right now, I can't really actually go out and pick medicine, but I'm going back home and picking medicine is something that makes me feel good. when you pick, you also have to think of good thoughts,” she shared, explaining how she catches her bad thoughts and turn them into a positive.
When it comes to inspiration, Belanger looks within to inspire herself, but she’s also inspired by people around her. “When I see other people just being strong and resilient and just having that strength and people who have integrity, who are honest, who are super respectful and humble, that really inspires me because that allows me to be who I am without being judged or without people being a certain way. I would say integrity inspires me a lot. Passion inspires me a lot. Just seeing people happy, inspires me a lot.”
As she works to study plants to help her community heal, Taylar Belanger is growing where she’s planted, leaning into the roots she’s put down and reaching upwards towards the light. A source of positivity and calm, Belanger is grounded in who she is and what she offers the world.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for writing this article.
May 2023 updates: Taylar has been keeping busy! Taylar is in the final year of her practical herbalist diploma, onto clinical herbalism. She is looking forward to expanding into Naturopathic Medicine to become a licensed Naturopathic Doctor and serve her community and the far North in a natural and holistic way. She is currently the program coordinator for The Kiya Land Based Healing Project for her community of Sakitawak. Furthermore, she is also a coordinator for a Northern Indigenous Women's Network working with a project called Raising Their Voices. They advocate for Indigenous women and the LGBTQI2S+ community finding their voices and stepping into leadership roles. She is also working with elders to develop a plan to build a ceremonial healing lodge in her community.
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.