Rebecca: Growing Up Indigenous
My name is Rebecca Merasty and I am a First Nations Cree woman born and raised in Treaty 6 in Flying Dust First Nation and Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan. I am now privileged to currently reside on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam Nations in Vancouver, BC.
I was first enrolled into athletics at the age of 3. This is where my journey began. From being a young Indigenous girl, wishing I had blonde hair and blue eyes, to now finally reclaiming my identity as an Indigenous woman.
As my reserve was heavily assimilated and our beliefs were mainly Christian based, I was without any traditional teachings as were many of the youth on my reserve. I remember the feeling of wanting to learn to Fancy dance (traditional style of dance for Pow Wow) but not having the space to learn. I remember being bullied by the other Indigenous girls as I made new friends from town through athletics.
I remember standing quietly by as racist remarks were consistently made, but not to worry as they were “never about me.” I remember the feeling of being ashamed because of my dark skin and only wearing long sleeved shirts and full-length pants, I needed to hide. I remember the disconnect as if it was yesterday.
These are some of the adversities I faced growing up as an Indigenous person in a rural, Saskatchewan town. My ancestral identity was completely whitewashed as a necessity to not only coexist but thrive. However, I was and continue to be blessed with the love and support of my friends and family. I had an abundance of love, encouragement, healthy competition and constant inspiration as I grew up. Because of sport, I had many opportunities that not everyone gets to have.
I didn’t always feel like the world I grew up in was made for me so I looked for ways to thrive and I knew I had to work hard for those opportunities. I found a passion (volleyball) and I did all that I could, with my parents’ help, to ensure that I would play at a high level.
Through athletics, I learned how to communicate effectively, how to lead with understanding, how to learn without ego and how to be disciplined in reaching for excellence. However, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned through my journey of being an athlete was how to both fail and win with humility.
In learning how to fall down and get back up, I was taught that highs and lows are a part of life and how you handle those highs and lows is going to help determine your outcome. Competition inspired me and wellness shaped me. Little did I know however, it was my blood memory of athletics that drove me. Without this, I would not be where I am today.
On 9/6/20, LEZE will be donating 100% of net proceeds to Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, as selected by Rebecca in support of our Indigenous community.