The language of sound has always been ingrained in Mich Cota’s identity. As a two-spirit woman, raised by a native father and a white mother in Southern Ontario, Cota began composing small melodies on the piano from the age of three to create her own sacred space in an intensely religious home. Inspired by her countryside surroundings, she would ingrain herself in nature, imagining herself in a place free of theology and restraint.
This is something Cota has carried with her throughout her creative existence. Her music is a way of navigating past traumas while exploring her queer experience, with open, unapologetic sincerity. It’s through her artistic expression that she relates to others, to build collective understanding and empathy, with the intention to heal and to challenge normative ways of being.
This video imagines the reclamation of indigenous identities through a mythological resurrection narrative.
It is possible for the collective resistance of tyranny to generate an impactful discernibility for those who have been pushed to the margins of our society.
Settlers have named us “savages” in contempt of our identity. Historically, the notion of acceptance toward those who defied their hierarchy was spat out, as though we were the ones poisoning nature.
Thoughtfulness and care may be neglected by those in pursuit of wealth. What could a world without religious conflict and greed look like?
What could happen if we were to accept an end to our current paradigm, and embrace the possibility of beauty without colonial influence?
Nibi* has continued to impress me with her force and carry me to ideas that have broken down my body to a state of serenity and respect. She is in us all, so why do we find ways to hurt her, to hurt ourselves? In our delicate and impermanent forms, we seem so often to negate our mortality. As we embody this forgetfulness, we estrange ourselves from consideration for natural resources. If we deny the finiteness of our current states, how can we sustain care for the water that we so desperately need to keep us alive?
This past summer I went on a trip with three friends of mine to the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec. On the third day of our trip, we found a beach by a series of remarkable dualities. The sun was setting, the moon rose against a sky covered with swirling clouds that seemed to gravitate toward what daylight remained. As I stepped into the water I could feel her current flowing one way on the surface and in the opposite direction below. These opposing flows were pulling my immersed form as though it were attempting to transmute from liquid to solid matter, keeping me in one place. Whatever life anxiety or concern I harbored was alleviated, and I lifted my feet from the river bed. My friend Sam was beside me, and we held each other hand in hand as we were guided downstream, floating with our eyes to the ever darkening sky that began to reveal constellations. My thoughts were taken to the fortune of my present circumstance, holding hands with someone like me: a being who travels between both ends of the gender spectrum. Water flowed from my eyes gently, quietly. She let go of my hand to fully immerse herself in the river. I screamed joyfully as Sam burst from Nibi, her skin glistening in the reddening sunset.
Stephen pulled me to the other side of the river, which was guarded by small cliffs and breathtakingly tall aspens, oaks, paper birches, mountain ash and maples all covered in shadow. Stephen’s laugh became increasingly monstrous as we began climbing the rock face. I was reminded of the joy and importance of genuinely expressing monstrosity. As the water, the forest and ourselves, we are capable of nurture and destruction. Finding ways to exert this energy can empower us, and ultimately help us accept our inevitable shift in consciousness back to the earth when the time comes to abandon our bodies. As I was looking at Stephen laughing, his body became a physically actualized state of madness. I lost myself in absurdity with him and laughed deep from my belly as he pissed on me before jumping off the cliff into the water. As I waited for him to resurface, anxiety slowly started to fill me again as I thought of Nibi’s capability to claim anything or anyone that is carelessly inside her. After scanning the surface from the cliff’s edge, I heard a light mischievous laugh. Swinging my focus to the right, I saw Stephen’s head poking out behind a small brush on the river bank. I threw myself inside Nibi after Stephen, impressed by his ruse. We slowly made our way back to the beach.
Michael danced, no words necessary. Every corner and crevice of him was covered in sand. As we held each other I brushed the beach from his back as cold night air encapsulated us.
Nibi exhausted us, made us hungry, made us in need of more of her. I romanticize and embellish this memory as I continue to be filled with new experiences in order to keep her spirit strong. A few days ago I stood by the sea for the first time in years. Her waves by the pebbled shore in Brighton splashed up my legs, soaking my ass, as I maneuvered flirtatiously with her. In the constant presence of a goddess, I know she doesn’t need me. Each day trying to become increasingly more aware of my own unmindfulness, her one vulnerability.
*nibi (Algonquin) = water
(Photo Credit: Jordan Minkoff)