Posts tagged activism
Ku Kia'i Mauna


I promised I would keep our tea family updated while I travel on the Big Island, in search of tea and learning. So here is an update.

For those of you that might be new to following Sarjesa – we (as Sarjesa feels like a living entity distinct from myself) are a lifestyle brand that raises awareness for the missing and murdered in Indigenous women (in Canada and across the world.) We help to fund violence prevention programming for women in crisis at the Awo Taan Healing Lodge in Calgary. This shelter is led by Indigenous women and grounded in an Indigenous framework and teachings – but the shelter is open to all women, and is frequently accessed by many marginalized communities of women.

The tea rose out of a deep frustration and anger that marginalized women continue to face greater rates of violence across the world, often resulting in death. Why is this so? Who does this benefit? How can we make it stop? These questions, at times, made my whole body ache – as I saw the women and communities I love (both mine and others) struggle under the weight of this oppression. This was my “why” – the reason I stood, and still stand; and it was the reason why I made tea.


Running a business is not an easy thing – I have had to learn the intricacies of systems that were never built for me, and that I was never really supposed to be a part of. At times, it has been so hard to navigate. I am blessed to be surrounded by Elders, Coaches, and community members who have been far more experienced than I. Even so, it can still be easy to lose hope when you are standing at the bottom of the mountain looking up, knowing that we have so far to go. That is why being in community, and stepping out onto the land, is so important to me. When we isolate from our roots, our communities, our home – we inadvertently lose our strength and lose sight of our why.

I have been on Hawai’i for three days – I am working alongside other students engaged in similar research and community service projects as I am. Despite having different “whys,” we are linked by a desire to stand in respectful solidarity – to lend our voices, bodies, and supports in ways that don’t take space away from these communities, but hold space and strength with them.

The past two days, we have been working with Aunty Pua on learning about Mauna Kea and how we can stand in respectful solidarity with the protectors of this sacred land. Walking through an exhibit, set up by the grassroots community, on the protection of the mountain – we heard stories from the youth who were arrested for protecting the mountain. We heard stories about the community members, Elders, farmers, regular people who have been educating themselves on the law and fighting court cases against large corporations. Their words were both humbling and devastating, humbling in that they are an example of the changes that can come about when a strong, committed group of community members stand up for the land and it’s rights. Some days are better than others; they have seen both victory and loss, but they have researched and prepared for all outcomes and will continue to move for their Mauna.


Aunty Pua taught us how to say: Ku Kia'i Mauna (someone who is a guardian, protector, steward of the mountain). She then had us formally introduce our ancestors, our Mauna, and ourselves so that her ancestors could greet our ancestors. This was a powerful moment and reminder.

Physically and geographically, my Mauna is my island (even though my island does not have a mountain – Aunty Pua said this is okay). But, perhaps my Mauna is also the women who form the heart of Sarjesa – those that have been disappeared, but who walk beside me in my work everyday. As I’m writing this, it occurs to me that I will have to check my understanding of this with some of the women I’m working with – just to make sure I am accurately understanding.

We all have places and people that we must stand with and for. This is not a practice of activism, it is a choice to live your life on purpose, making intentional decisions each day to continue to guard and protect the land, people and practices that are sacred to you.

It is only day three and I am learning so much.
Grateful to be learning from Aunty Pua for the past few days.

#Tea Is Medicine

    It has been a full month since I launched the rebranded tea line, after a summer full of lumps, bumps, and ups and downs. Once again, I am totally blown away and humbled by the amazing support of the community. Not only have I personally felt so loved and supported during this time, but we are about to drop off our biggest donation yet to our community partner. I find myself sitting, as I write out a cheque for over $500 to Awo Taan, and I can’t help but feel completely blessed to know and engage with so many incredible souls. You will change the world mark my words.

What does it mean to stand in respectful solidarity within and with communities? What does it mean to be Indigenous? What does it mean to be an ally or accomplice? These are all questions I have and continue to grapple with. As a mixed race, Indo-Caribbean woman, my family has undoubtedly been affected by colonialism and ongoing racialization. Yet, my family has still be afforded privileges that other marginalized communities have not. .

            Sitting with my grandmother, we often talk about the need to stand in respectful solidarity with Indigenous and other marginalized communities. Our legacies are not the same, yet they are intersecting and multifaceted, thick with complicity and accomplicity. I believe we have to work together, and learn from each other, when we think about how to overcome our separate legacies of trauma.

            The first murder victim of the year, in New York City, was a young Indo-Caribbean woman. Her husband, in what has been deemed a murder-suicide, killed her. Domestic violence, and violence towards women, is a pervasive force within my own community – something that many are working hard to overcome. Similarly, I see gendered violence as a large and growing issue that seems to transcend borders, racially, geographically, and socioeconomically. So many communities, so many cultures, are shifting – fighting for healing, and beginning to create change. I believe that it is going to take us all to create the change we so desire.

            So, what are the ways that we can support each other? What are you already doing in community to build bridges of solidarity? I am continually inspired by the work of both the 4R’s Youth Movement on cross-cultural dialogue and The Alex Community Food Centre on food as a medium for health and healing. I have been exploring the idea of cross-cultural medicine. As some of you may have read, Sarjesa started out on the premise that every culture has tea and that it can be a powerful product that brings communities together and educates them about the local land and community. To me, it is the perfect combination of ingested goodness and digested knowledge.

            My challenge to you, as we move through the next cold months, is to share a cup of tea and conversation with someone else. They can be a neighbour, a friend, a loved one, or a complete stranger. Talk about the work and initiatives that are going really well, and talk about all that we can be doing better!