Air bands of Innocence

Remember big sisters?

How much we emulated them?

They were so cool.

With their crimped hair and shiny 1980s tops!

My big sister lived within the pedestal of my heart.

I looked up to her and did whatever she told me.

Just to be near her.

Big sisters were remedies for our childhood uncertainties!

Protectors for life.

Imagination was HIGH!

Acid wash jean jackets and monster mash halloween costumes!

Brown roller-skates and water slides served as a backdrop for memories that would never leave us.

Fence climbing in August heat and haunted houses.

The tinkle of the ice cream truck…

Ringing the neighbour’s doorbell and running away.

Cackling so hard, you nearly peed your kid pants!

Puppets and Care Bear hearts existed within us.

Remember 1980s cassette tapes and candy?

Remember singing into hairbrushes?

A tennis racket served as a stunning base guitar.

Air bands of our hidden futures to come!

Dreams and hopes of marrying George Michael!

Cindy Lauper gloves of imagination?

Remember how your little friends were EVERYTHING?

That play time meant NOW time.

An intense time of JOY and presence where nothing could touch you.

Minipops of expression.

Michael Jackson beats of unlabelled JOY.

Earrings that were dangly and from Boppers escalated our sisters reasonings.

Erasers, bright pencils, and sticker albums pulled out for trade.

Dollhouses and cash registers.

Playing school.

Playing Frogger and Spaced Invaders on our Atari until our hands were sore, with her.

Eating Mom’s home cooked meals.

Quiet snowflakes that landed on our kid eyelashes….

White innocent sugar dust fell to the earth, until we ingested it with our mitten hands to mouth.

Street lamps and skinned knees from your bike.

The kissing rock!

When times were GOOD.

When our innocence wasn’t slipping away…

I am here to remind you…

We are still THAT PURE.

It never left us.

We are the innocence of that snowfall…

We can stop running now.

We can let those images play in our mind, and love them, without trepidation.

We can long for our past childhoods.

It was a good time!

We can embrace that fully through our self care.

Through exquisite expression…

Through the dynamic POWER of self love, we can honour our traumas, and gleefully accept how much of it was so good!

That we soundly would not change our little-hoods.

We can ascend our nostalgia ladder and visit whenever we need to.

Today, I did.

I sang into a hairbrush, while listening to Gloria, and saw my sister and me, our little neighbourhood friends, all in our house downstairs.

The air bands we would perform.

The Pickles was our name, and it was our secret.

We performed with our whole, FULL hearts!

I remember needing my sister and my little friends like nothing else!

They were like my redeemers.

We were FREE….

And today, I felt that.

I remembered!

And, I remember her.

My big sister, you taught me how to be…

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Know the Wolves in your Life

The hardest part is knowing your oppressors came originally with hearts of love.

Even more painful, knowing you yourself have been an oppressor.

We are taught anger has no place in spirituality.

Anger forces movement.

Rage can be soothing.

Yet, we are told calm is worth more?

All have a voice.

All have a place at your dinner table.

Lately I have been dreaming of the biggest abuser in my life.

I wake up, angry.

I came home so soft. So smooth. So rounded from the Arctic.

Now, spiky edges run along my spine.

Mere breaths of another make me quake with animosity.

To recognize it is not about them, but my own self, most challenging. Most uncomfortable.

To see the rot that has been inside, fermenting. To sit with it. To see where her abusive seeds were planted so very long ago.

I once worshipped her.

Trauma bonds are real, and merciless!

Say fuck you to your oppressors.

And if you are the oppressor of others, know that your ego is on full.

Dark souls exist.

Sometimes we made a pre life contract to co-exist with them.

To coalesce with them in life, searing…

But they can never touch this light.

For, as once was told to Serena in the Handmaids Tale, they will always be empty.

Their heart is cold.

A spiritual serial killer you are.

For the humiliating ways you fused your expired, curdled self onto me, I don’t forgive you.

For the cowardly ways you committed your abuses of me so readily, I sublimate you.

You are dry ice inside.

You have your rage.

That is all.

I have had to co-exist with rage for three days.

I simply can’t imagine your daily existence!

Some perhaps get contracts filled with light. Others with so much dark.

Pay no attention to the dark.

Keep your eye on the light and MOVE forward.

Keep going.

They are mad because you left them behind?

Imagined betrayals and abandonments flood their mind.

Now, knowing what you know, you can move forward, with boundaries.

You have recognized their “conditions” as an absence of love.

True loving is unselfish, and creates the need to give.

Conditions are not love.

Disempowerment is not love.

Have you ever asked why we become the angel when handing out money? But as soon as the bank is closed to them, we become worthless?

They don’t CARE about you.

They care what you can GIVE them!

They play the victim. They will attempt to enliven with their pity stories. Sympathy will be begged for. Criminal histories are common.

Despite malicious acts, or reviled shameful behaviour, they only deepen in their pathology.

Sympathy, Pity, and Blame are their calling cards.

Know them!

They will not be able to infuse high gratitude for life.

They will despise most anything.

They will contribute nothing to make anything better.

They will deflect and refuse to apologize for their human atrocities.

They are teenagers walking around in adult bodies.

A mish mosh of extinguished light with searing pain.

Feel empathy for them, as they have none.

Send them good and leave it there.

Energy vampires are everywhere.

They can come in our families, partners, and even colleagues.

It is enough to know they exist.

You don’t have to focus on them.

Know the dark is there, and keep ascending.

Those who make you feel psychologically unsafe, need to be left behind.

Your gut. Your head. Your heart rate. All will tell you what you need to know!

Intestines do not lie.

Nausea is a message.

A subtle revealing that the energy you are near, or presently carrying, needs to be released.

You MUST remove yourself.

Carry your innate tools for energetic protection with you.

Know them well.

You are an empath.

They are dark.

We do not have to be in their muck.

We can let go of guilt, and give ourselves permission to let go.

We can work on forgiveness.

For now, I continue to dream of her abuses.

It is uncomfortable, but the sinister dreaming is necessary.

It’s a sign post of what needs facing, and most importantly, healing.

She even appears as a black wolf at times in dream time.

She is looking so intently for me, but she can’t see me.

All the while, I sit calmly in the house, looking out the window at her, fully aware of her presence.

I am protected.

My instincts, much stronger than yours.

My Guides show me your broken soul.

How black your hatred is.

A soul so deeply rooted in rejection, you only want to reject and hurt others now.

You are mutated.

It is said we hold grief within our lungs.

The breath knows.

Does yours?

I am holding on so tightly.

Do I need to?

Does all that nostalgia and “good times” remove their abuses?


No one taught me the dangers of being an empath.

How it is both a curse and a cure.

How much they will hate you for seeing right through them.

For our ability to say “I’m sorry” and exhibiting remorse at our actions.

For our grace, we are loathed.

They cannot experience this.

If they do, it is short lived and the ache within them returns with a vengeance.

Soon they will be seeking their next victim.

Don’t “see the good in them.”

Don’t self talk with “well, they haven’t had it easy….”

NONE of us have had it easy.

Yet we do not go around feasting on others.

We do not seek to destroy someone’s life or “make them pay” with despicable vindictive behaviours.

We don’t snarl our teeth when another accomplishes something beautiful!

We do not lie in bed at night licking lips thinking about revenge.

They do.

I have seen it first hand.

For now, keep praying.

Keep your vibrations HIGH.

Ask for forgiveness for your own misdoings, and try to be the best human you can.

Ask for God and Guides to surround you in peace, and harmony. For ways to find forgiveness.

And thank GOD you have the insight to recognize light and dark.

Take homage in the lessons of dark souls.

Keep taking a stand for love.

Love always wins.

We are beacons.

Reptiles without light are not of interest to us.

I will not fill their appetites.

Let them be hungry.

STARVE them with non acknowledgment after their abuses arrive.

Go grey rock and watch them wither….

As you shrivel, we rise.

Know your oppressors!

Know your celebrators!

One makes you feel good, alive, and energized.

The other will deplete your energy resources, and weaken with their vitriolic hate.

Know the vitriol they spew, is how they truly feel about themselves.

I have rarely seen a changed soul that is shaped by delivering darkness.

It takes lifetimes for them to undo their karmic tail.

Keep your energy in the comets and constellations of creation and mystery.

Leave them to their hate.

You’re a survivor.

You bailed seeking mercy.

Bled for insights.

Rage, although uncomfortable, is here for a short time only.

Release and try to forgive.

Keep your soul as a sanctuary.

Guard your peace with your very LIFE!

Blessings and movement to you in this life…..

For the Dark Souls, thank-you for colliding with us so we may expand! Grow! Without Dark, we would not expand our Light.

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Children surround me.  Here and there.  At home and in Nunavut.  Their cascading energies make me feel ten feet high!  Forever, in my aspirations for my career, it has been to assist children on their paths.  Now, it’s here.  Do you ever have those realizations?  That the things you have desired, wanted, and worked so hard for, have finally arrived?  When they do, those goals, it’s important to make new ones and to keep growing.

Today, as I walk around the children’s hospital, I am completely humbled by what is witnessed.  Children battling cancer.  Children with trachs.  Premie babies full of tubes.  Adorning, worrying parents.  Children with smiles, and french fries, appearing totally healthy.  I see groups of teenagers singing songs to ill kids.  I see physicians and nurses, standing with coffees, but still discussing cases with one another.  Their work is never done.  NICU nurses nibble salads. Lab techs hurry to get blood.  Pharmacists work intensely to provide the medication needed. The people in this hospital are so committed.  It is the elite to me.  Surgeons are changing and saving lives.  They also sit down on the floor with kids, to meet them exactly where they are.  These doctors catch running hugs from their little patients.  70 year old physicians hand out stickers and put on different energies depending on who is near.  My face hurts from the smiles and joy I feel working here.  Paediatrics is a calling, and a DREAM!  There is something so special about this hospital, and the glass ceilings that encase it.  Where prayers rise, and are answered.  This is the hospital that has cared for my own son.  The centre of excellence!

So, I ask you, what is next for you?

How will you find your humanity and let it take over your life?

When will you tell me the stories of hope and encouragement you have realized? I want to hear them all.  Your story is what intrigues me, not my own.

The nudge to return to Nunavut has been there recently.  That slow, little knock, letting me know the time is soon.  That I have commitments.  To the Inuit.  To that Tundra.  The Tundra, which has become Medicine to me.  They are not my people, but they are my people, and I plan to honour my agreements to them.  Inuit have built houses within me, and I know I will go there for the remainder of my career.  That sprinkle of faraway home.  That shaker of pain.  I want it ALL.

There are records for all of us.   A big book we all know about.  All you need to do it tap into it.  Some aren’t interested in those records.  Some don’t require awareness of that to live full, compassionate lives.  They just do their agreements anyways.

Humanity is what is being offered.

I want to know how you deliver it?

To them.

To yourself.

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Charcoal and Fire

“LET ME FUCKING DIE!!!!” she screams in Inuktitut.

It is 8:20 am. I am walking into the clinic. I hear screams from resus. As I enter I see an entire family, surrounding a beautiful Inuk woman. Black charcoal spills from her lips. Another nurse is trying to start an IV on her as she fights him. The machines beep relentlessly.

She is raging.

She tried to kill herself today.

I attempt to get blood from her.

As she screams, the entire family, about seven of them begin to wail. All simultaneously. Their wails are guttural and unlike anything else I have ever witnessed. Their grief. Their pain. It comes out in a surge all at once. I get shivers. Hot tears in my eyes. The summit of their collective agony. It strikes a chord in my humanity that has never been plucked before. The crescendo of their sorrow, nearly overpowers me.

It is moving.

It is distressing.

I continue to work in amidst the mayhem and sadness. Her sadness. Their anguish at potentially losing her. Her pain so exquisite, she wants to die.

People think depression is a choice. That mental illness can be switched off with a jog or better eating habits.

Looking in her eyes today, I can see her at the very precipice. The edges of not wanting to be in this life any longer. I see sorrow. I know she has lost many in her young life. Has faced trauma that westerners could not even fathom.

Abuse, sexual and other variances, are subdued with alcohol and drugs. That scream must be silenced in some way. What beckons as a small whisper in our minds and hearts, screams and tugs at them in arsenic proportions. Their sirens are enough to kill.

As we work to help her, she screams. She cries. She pleads, begs, swears. She becomes combative. The true Inuk in her comes out in waves of strong you cannot imagine. A fury unleashed that I have yet to see in my entire career.

Her fire is still very strong.

It is more than a tantrum.

It is waves of agony and pain, long buried for years. It has compounded and the bruising surrounding her eye tells me his has too. That the man she loves, hurts her in ways a man should not.

Her pain so loud, she wants to leave.

To make an exit.

This daughter.

This mother.

This sister.

The family all realizing how close they came to losing her. They all have first hand accounts of losses to suicides already.


A twelve year old hung himself here last month.


Eaten by the monsters of neglect and abuse. Intergenerational trauma that makes one unable to care for those we are meant to love the most.

Another Mom delivers a stillborn baby, and passes away the next day.

So much despair. So much tragedy.

In my mind, people here could pass away from unmitigated heartbreak.

“I’m sorry….” she sobs now quietly, to her family. “I’m so sorry….”

The Elder in the room breaks down in slow waves as the girl apologizes to her.

The Elder looks at me and says “She drinks. She drinks all week. And they fight. I have cancer, and I’m getting treatment. After they fight, he hits me next…”

She looks at me for an answer.

She looks at me in desperation, in her fur lined coat and kamiks.

I sit and listen. I offer the support I can.

I am enveloped by their sadness and my place here.

It is piercing.

The dysfunction is so loud.

As I walk home, I am thinking of her as she flies into the sky on a plane. I am thinking about this family. Their love for her. The grandma. The dad, the children, and the sisters and friends who all gathered near her. The staff who all worked to help her. How loved she is.

I recently met a Buddhist who told me getting a life is very difficult. That it takes much karmic work to get here.

There are kids everywhere here. Hundreds of them. They play all day, hard. They love the fresh arctic air. They ask me for chips and pop. I imagine what their lives will be like at 23? What they will witness? What they have already seen?

Their little eyebrows rise high to meet my hello. They don’t understand what I say, but their little animated faces reveal much.

As I walk, I pray for them. I pray for these communities and it’s people.

How they inspire me. How I grieve for them, and with them.

Inuit people have broken me open.

Their way of life is not easy. But they laugh, and they are deeply kind. There are problems and addictions here. Many are lost.

Depression. Alcoholism. Abuse. Neglect. Violence.

These kill.

Many children and adults in Nunavut lose to this battle.

Many die.

Suicide rates continue to skyrocket in Nunavut.

Alcoholism, food scarcity, and poverty of epic proportions.

When I get back down south, I will go back to my regular life. I will not collide with the daily struggles of here. I will get used to ready made food, vegetables that are not rotten, and drive to Tim Hortons daily for a tea. I will not worry about money or how I will feed my child. I will have contact with friends and family for support needed. I will have clean clothes to wear. I will have clean water. No one will give me fresh bruises to wake up to. I will not be sharing a two bedroom home with ten family members.

As people here live in poverty, I go home to having everything.

As parents in Nunavut fear hidden black mold residing in their walls, I know Noah’s walls are safe. That his air uptake will be clean.

As kids go three days without eating, Noah will have three meals a day.

That is a very difficult realization.

Two very different realities, yet both are communities in Canada.

Third world conditions exist here that Canada allows and deems acceptable for children and families in Nunavut.

They don’t seem angry, but I am.

Working here, you have two realizations.

One, you can do very little to change it.

Two, be present with them. See them. Learn.

They are not seeking to be rescued.

If anything, how Inuit live is truly Canadian. Only the toughest can survive and thrive here as they have. Their kinship and community so very intact.

I’m really trying to listen to their words. Trying to experience life with them. To share their journey.

Inuit have completely highjacked my heart and mind.

My soul seeks you.

I grieve with them, but I also breathe here.

I get to be near new moms, pregnant moms, and new babies and children.

I get to be greeted.

Elders smile at me, and I feel pure.



There is pain here.

There is life here.

There is hope.

I am glad and grateful to collide with Inuit in the most intimate spaces of their lives.


I will be back.

Jaclyn Hedges

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Don’t Stop

I arrived in a very different land mass today. The Arctic. It commands respect and awe. It is barren, and the people smell different. Their smiles seem genuine and acknowledging. People at home don’t smile like this. Their faces are tan, and smeared with sun that never ends. Little kids have raccoon tan lines and wind burned cheeks. Skidoos and children litter the non existent streets. The sun burns 24 hours a day, and the air is crisp and lonely. Despite being with other nurses, I feel very on my own. Like being here is perhaps what living on Pluto might be like, with equal existential ramifications. It’s beautiful, but comes attached to a mystical edge. Almost a loneliness and feeling of being in too big of a space, with nothing there. Like how babies don’t like being in cribs, without being swaddled. They need to feel the edges of something encapsulating them.

Inuit people smile. They have a natural appreciation for simplicity. They don’t seem as restless as me. They are very curious. Their eyes seem ancient and 200 years old. Their Ancestors blood pulsing them onward, and it’s magnificent seeing a culture so defined and prevalent. Their language is stony and I love how they roll their K’s. Inuktitut is the primary language spoken here. It reveals deep throaty tones. I could listen to them speak all day. They have voice, but I will soon discover there is disquiet also. Hearing them talk seems familiar. I feel a part of them. I have dreamed of the Inuit. I get chills over and over the first day, with each encounter, due to their profound presence. For the first time in a long while, I am living in awe again.

The sun is glaring. It throws off your depth perception. You need sunglasses to cover your eyes. To walk on this earth. This land, which feels very old. It feels like survival, and it makes me uncomfortable while simultaneously making my heart skip with joy. Living here will require a new stamina. As the snow crunches beneath my feet, wind whipping my face, words break out in my mind and I feel a compulsion to write!

The nurses here possess an independence I have not encountered often. Very self driven, and highly attuned assessment skills. They have finesse. All are seekers. Devout walkers of the common journey, with conscious awareness of their place in the world.

It wasn’t even this quiet in Hawaii. In Hawaii, I didn’t write at all. I had no interest. I wanted to look out at the beauty, and words seemed to diminish the experience. I wanted to be more tactile. Here, words will once again allow me to survive. I have the bare bones of my words. Vowels and consonants to get me through the loneliness which feels vacuous and lunar. I feared the isolation most of all coming here. Being so far from all I know, from my boy, will take some getting used to. Filling all that spare time just on me. No movies or even books to distract me. My own pain and displeasure will rise to the surface for me to face, and relinquish.

I’m getting fat with experiencing a new culture, and being quiet. Meditation has become my friend here. In my dream last night, I saw an Inuit woman, with stars in her eyes. She waved and welcomed me. She had a child on her back. The dream shifts to me walking on an inlet cove alone. Icebergs. Arctic blue waters stunningly beautiful. An Elder approaches me and whispers “welcome my child…” We stand together at this blue patch of ocean, while nothing else is said. I am welcomed.

I am supposed to be here.

Today I prayed that Creator would guide me in these spaces. And that when I feel helpless or fearful, He will fill those crevices with His love and guidance.

I remember how much I love people, and particularly paediatrics! Oh how I have missed the little children….

I had a busy day in clinic today. Saw lots of patients all needing very different things. I went home after a full day. I was called back to the clinic by the Nurse in Charge. She tells me “we have a baby coming, can you come back?”

I quickly dress in my scrubs again, and prepare to walk the four minute walk with my coat and sunglasses on. I light a cigarette, regretting my decision, as the cold burns my fingers so swiftly, after two puffs, I throw it onto the frozen tundra.

I walk in to a busy array of nurses, with a hurried anxious energy permeating the place. They prepare Fentanyl, magnesium, and Oxytocin. For some nurses, it’s their first delivery.

I walk to the room where I hear a screaming young mother. She looks about 18, and the older nurse is checking her cervix.

I look by the window, near the baby warmer. I see the flight crew, which consists of two attractive people, in flight suits. One a male, one a female. They wear blue jumpsuits that just command respect and awe. Their kindness and smiles are soothing.

We start to give medications, I chart our interventions. Within the hour, I watch as a little Inuit baby enters the world. I see his black hair, coming out of her, and he passes through very easily. This little boy is early, a premie, just 31 weeks old. He comes out in a rush and the nurse quickly clamps the cord and cuts it. “Suction!” one yells hurriedly and commandingly. I have shivers ripple up my spine watching such an amazing being. The family is all there, including an Elder who wears mukluks, sitting quietly in the corner. Her presence quiet, but very necessary. Many in the family cry, including the mom. It is quickly evident that baby needs to breathe, and soon. I wait to hear his cry. Much like Noah, there isn’t one. This entire scene sends me reeling back to my own son being born. How small he was. How he wouldn’t cry. How he needed oxygen immediately. Baby’s heart is strong, much like these people. Looking at him, I know he’s a survivor.

They attempt an IV several times, with no luck. Baby veins no bigger than a piece of thread, make it very hard. They decide, with much reluctance, to insert a catheter into his umbilicus. It’s called a UVC, or Umbilical Vein Catheter. They cut his tiny cord with a scalpel and I watch as he bleeds. I am holding a tiny mask on babies face to ensure he is getting Oxygen. I feel important and a part of it all. This nursing feels exciting and in my element. The room is cooking, but it needs to be warm for baby. I monitor his oxygen saturation constantly, watching his colour even closer. He looks so frail, like Noah did, but he’s a fighter like my son also!

It’s been about four hours now. None of us have had water nor gone to the washroom. The intensity and focus is thick. The machines bip and boop, with each breath. Baby is indrawing severely now, and his resolve is wearing. He lacks surfactant and he needs to be intubated immediately. I put my finger into his tiny hand, and he grips it tightly. So small. So perfect he is.

I am on the phone with the physician who instructs which medicine to administer. We get Atropine, Fentanyl, and Succs to prepare for intubation. The RT shoves a glidoscope into the tiny baby’s throat. How his head must be forced up haunts me. It looks so foreign to tilt a neonates head up that much. I can tell the RT is getting frustrated, as he cannot see anything in this tiny airway. He grabs a 2.5 endotracheal tube now. The baby desats, to 54%. I quietly call out baby’s vitals as they decline so the RT knows how much time he has. Baby is not breathing. He becomes a dusky purple. His body, lifeless. The RT pulls out the tube and calls for oxygen and suction again. My heart races watching him work. He asks me to put his stethoscope into his ears. My hands brush the sides of his unshaven cheek. This man who saves babies in the North.

I snap back into the seriousness of the moment. The tube is in the wrong position. He tries again, all of us with bated breath. Finally, at the fifth attempt, the RT is successful with intubation.

It is now 3am, and all of us Nurses have been on for over 18 hours. We are all exhausted, but exhilarated by this night. We all thank the other for helping. We all wear smiles. We tell of other stories in our careers like this one. We thank the other for doing what’s necessary to save this baby’s life.

I walk home, in cold snow, with a co-worker. Little does he know, I glimpse him with complete awe. Without him, this baby would have surely died.

As I collapse into my bed, the searing sun continues to beat upon us. It’s a dusky sun, but it never goes down here. I ponder how I got here. How I helped save a life tonight. I think of my own son, and thank God he is now ten. I remember praying to God for my own baby son. “If You save him, I will never ask You for another thing….” Watching my son struggle, as this baby did tonight, was a grossly difficult time in my life, but also, one of the most real. That pain. That love. That need for him to BE, it broke me open.

I close my eyes, into dreamless sleeps, of strange lands and people coming and going. I dream of ones I love. Of ones who have left me, or maybe I them?

I don’t dream about his baby, but this night, and these people, how we bonded, and worked together, will be imprinted on my heart forever.

It is quiet today. A Sunday. I hear church bells. They haunt me and bring me a peace that’s foreign. Huskies howl here night and day. It’s difficult to know when day ends and night begins due to the constant sunlight. It throws you a bit. Shakes your equilibrium. I glimpse out at the barren white landscape as wind collides with my ears. I imagine very old Inuit people, nomadic, hunting, thriving, and surviving. It is lunar and vast here. So far away from what I love. I will help these people. I will give them my best. I have much to learn from the Inuit. I have such calcifications of pain I need to scrape off. For now, i’ll set a table for this quiet, feel the empty, and bear down for what is coming for me. In my abject desolation, I remember that kind doctor. How two years ago today, a physician looked into my eyes softly, and uttered the words “we don’t know how you survived. We are so glad you are still here with us.”

Me too.

I am reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. He went mad writing this book. Became so obsessed and in his word soup, he became a drunk and died. But his writing is slippery, and soothing. It makes me jealous. I wish my writing was as moveable on the page. I am impressed by his story telling. How he can evoke images in my mind. Writing is not a choice, and the compulsion and passion is worth dying for.

One of my colleagues today told me that a nurse, after being here for two weeks, went completely psychotic. She was found walking around naked, on the tundra, in just her parka. She was murmuring “where is the plane? I need to go home…..”

I don’t think Northern Nursing is for the faint of heart. My other insight today? We never, ever stop loving those who once owned our hearts. Once you have breathed them in, they remain.

9 child deaths in Nunavut since January.

A little Inuit girl walks into my clinic room, about 4 years old. A chubby little Inuk, with a big belly. But Canada is failing them. Homes uninhabitable. Black mould with upwards of seven people living under one roof. Little kids cough here. They sounds like 78 year olds who smoke a pack a day.

I witnessed a mother beat her 12 year old right outside the health centre today. She hit him, six times, with a closed fist, in his jaw. In the waiting room, as I look on in horror, other Inuit people sit, showing no reaction whatsoever. One says to me “don’t get involved, she’s been like that for years.” My response to her, looking her deadpan in the eyes, “no, that’s not okay. This is Canada. It’s 2018. You can’t beat a child out front of a health centre!”

I had the Mom arrested that day.

I am shocked at how acceptable abuse has become in this region. The absolute trauma and hopelessness of here. The violence. My humanity feels completely assaulted. I am now disjointed and blinded by what I witnessed. Forgotten children. They move me, profoundly, with their pain and harsh realities.

Suicide rates in Nunavut are 9 times the national average.

I give a child a sticker. Stickers are for children. She beams at my gift. My eyes well up. Inuit babies of the North are carried by their parents on their backs, in an amauti. So close. So near.

I am missing Noah now, the most I have. I’m missing our life, together. Missing something so small as going to the grocery store with him. Holding his little hand knowing that he soon will be too cool, and big to want to hold hands. Missing his questions and why’s, even though at times, it drives me bonkers. Missing movies and food, and our laughs. How he eats his bagels not in quarters, but in two half’s stuck together.

We had the most difficult of talks yesterday. Through tears, and a whispered voice, Noah says “I just want a regular bike Mommy…” My eyes filled up like snowglobes. His vulnerability sears me. I felt so helpless, so rocked by him saying exactly what he felt. I remind him of how strong he is, and tell him that this is his path, and despite its absolute barren difficulty at times, he has to walk tall and face it. I tell him all this, and inside, I grieve. I grieve for him, for his challenges, and wish with everything I am, that I could take his legs, and give him my own. That is love. That is motherhood. It can fucking crush you. But moments like that let you know why you signed on for this. Why you agreed to bring a little human being into this life. To aide them. To feed them. To clothe them. To love them. But the biggest thing we can give our children? A sense that they BELONG. Not to us, but to something greater. That they have purpose. Humanity. That we see them, right where they are! Maybe not always. Maybe at times our vision is hazy. But kids need to know that we are their home. Their landing strip. That safety of your parents loving you is necessary. For to not have it, is to not feel love. An absence of God.

A little boy living with CP, who just wants a two wheeled bike. His strength and courage, so apparent to me. May my little son continue to RISE to his journey.

In report, a 7 year old boy, sodomized on the playground. We all grieve together. A collective silence in all of us, as professionals, and as human beings. A reminder of the harsh realities of this world.

An Inuit woman comes in with a clavicle fracture. Her abuser, sits beside her in the chair as I assess her. I must suspend my judgements, and it is incredibly difficult looking into her eyes. I put a brace on her. Broken bones. Broken life. And what am I doing to help her situation? Nothing. What can I do? Nothing. I hope she has the courage to leave one day soon.

I discuss the horrific tragedy and trauma i’ve witnessed over some drinks with the psychologist out here. It is nearing my end here. He starts to talk, and is an an obvious writer and fantastic storyteller. Once again, I feel chills rising on my cells. Something about when conversations really matter, you get this feeling you need to LISTEN. So, he tells me about his week. A drunk guy, whose wife kicks him out. No big deal, happens all the time. He normally takes off for a few days and drinks. This time, he decided to go outside, on the tundra, with no outerwear. After two days, no one can find him. They form familial search parties. Where the entire family goes out and looks together. They come across something on the ice. As they approach, they find their loved one. He is frozen solid, with eyes still open, sitting upright on the sea ice. They also see an Arctic Wolf, gnawing on this mans arms and chest. One arm already gone, blood everywhere. The wolf is so engorged from eating this man, he can barely walk. An Arctic wild wolf, just feasting on an Inuk. If that isn’t a metaphor for what these people face, I don’t know what is. The grief Inuit people have within them.

The second story, a woman, a young mom, has a newborn baby. They are flown to Iqaluit for births. Her and her husband both. She feeds the baby his bottle of milk. She goes into the bathroom, and hangs herself. Dad comes in, finds her, he also suicides. When they find the baby, the milk is still warm. A Mom, caring enough to provide one last bottle for her infant son, and then, makes her exit. The psychologist is brought in for emergent counselling to the family. The sister wails, with guttural cries, and he whispers in her ear “don’t stop…” He tells me the Inuit grieve in healthy, profound ways. Not like the clean, antiseptic ways we do in the rest of Canada. He told me this is why he comes here. To experience them. To encapsulate himself in their life. Suddenly I feel like I’m exactly where I am supposed to be. And the message is; DON’T STOP. No matter what, we all have to keep going.

So today, leaving here, feels bittersweet. I feel connected to these people, and to this land. I feel a sombreness for the tragedy and trauma that lives here. I am only home for 18 days and then I’m flying to another community. It looks like I may be doing this for a spell, and despite its challenges, it’s taken me inside in a way nothing else has. Like maybe i’m letting go… of my own grief within. Grief with a voice, and a name, which has finally found it’s resting place. Here, on the Arctic tundra, amongst ice bergs and blue waters. Amongst Arctic wolves that can eat you life from limb.

On my last night here, I dreamed of a soulmate who has passed on. She told me “I have to leave you now. You have everything you need inside.” I so desperately wanted her to stay, but the message was clear.

In this space of trauma, and grief, and harshness unrelenting, I find peace. I seek God’s mercy in the Inuit’s eyes. I look for it everyday here. I feel a stillness I never have in my life. I feel God guiding my life, and as I fly away, the Arctic waters flood my mind. I whisper out loud a memory. “Don’t stop….”

The Inuit are a force. Caring for them professionally, is an Honour. It has winded me. Many lessons are to be heard.

I will be listening to them all.

Their stories will be told.

Jaclyn Hedges

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Jesus wore no shoes 

I don’t remember much from that first night in the hospital. I came in and out like waves crashing through fog. All the while, I never felt afraid. I felt taken care of, like I was encased. I roused early in the morning to one of the kindest faces I had ever seen. A smiling Filipino nurse, wearing green scrubs and a pink stethoscope. Her cheeks were round, and when she smiled, her eyes disappeared. “I’m Grace…rest now…” she whispered quietly. 

A few days later, a very free, magnificent bounding energy entered my hospital room. She was of African descent. She wore a bright yellow top, and had gleaming white teeth. Her smile was real. Her eyes shone. Another nurse who was to assist me on my new path. 

 “Jaclyn! So nice to meet you!! My name is Angel…” 

Shortly after being discharged from the hospital, we moved. I decided to stay in a hotel while we gathered our belongings for the big move. Having a home has always been my dream for Noah. I’d been working three jobs just to get it for us. Finally, it was in our grasp. The timing was great after such a difficult experience with my health. As we walked into the hotel, we were greeted by an extremely jovial, upbeat woman from Uganda. She worked at the hotel and immediately approached us.
“Hello young man! What’s your name?” she asked my eight year old with exuberance. 


“Well, it’s very nice to meet you Noah! My name is Patience…” 

“That’s my mom, Jaclyn” he said as he pointed at me.

“It’s so good to see you Jaclyn…” she said knowingly as she shook my hand. I felt my energy skip. Her warmth and genuine stare was like sun beating upon me. Patience, I pondered… 

It had been a few days since I was out of the hospital and I was doing some laundry. I was sitting outside the laundromat in my SUV.  I was grateful to soon be leaving the mean streets of the city.  I admired the thunder and lightning outside. With my aviator sunglasses on, I watched the rain drips roll down the windshield. It seemed an appropriate metaphor of where I was in my life. It was hot too.  I have always loved rainstorms. They make me feel alive.  

I noticed a Native Elder walking toward me. He was very unkempt, and had no shoes on. He approached my window, and I assumed he was homeless and was going to ask for money.  

I rolled down my window and immediately noticed he smelled of urine. But his eyes! Much like the ladies I had been meeting with symbolic names, his eyes had something to tell me. He looked beyond me. 

“Hey, how are you?” I asked this rain soaked man, with no shoes on. He stared at me for a bit, without saying anything.

“You know Jesus just saved your life right..?”

Shock arrested me. I felt shivers run through my entire body. His words sunk me. Slow tears welled in my eyes, hidden by my glasses. I had yet to truly grieve what had transpired.
Barely able to get the words out, I replied weakly, “what did you say?”

“You need to get a Bible. Jesus saved your life. You need to live from your heart, not your head.” He then touched my shoulder and began praying in Cree. In Native tongue, he was blessing me. I sobbed the entire time, quietly, knowing that something profound was occurring. As I cried, and listened to his words, the thunder ricocheted my soul as his backbeat. I felt my Ancestors upon me. 

Then, he turned and left.  

I was gobsmacked watching him walk away from me, through the puddles of life, in bare feet. 

He totally broke me open.  

He was a message. 

He was majestic. 

Last month, Noah and me stayed at the hotel again. Noah was looking everywhere for Patience, the kind Ugandan lady who had connected to us so sweetly. As we came around the corner, a beautiful woman from the Philippines approached us.  

“Excuse me…” Noah said as he approached her with curiosity. 

“Yes sweetheart, what do you need?”

“Do you know where Patience is?”

“Patience left. But I’m Faith. Can I help you with something?” 

God is in the Helpers. He breathes his love to us, via them.  

I’m listening again…

I recently told one of the Elders my story.  

He was silent for some time, as he puffed his cigarette. Finally, he spoke, as blue smoke escaped his lips.

“Always remember Jaclyn, Jesus wore no shoes….”

by Jaclyn Hedges

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the eschaton 

nearly dying has created a space i’ve never known before. a creeping, calm space. not being able to lift my head off the pillow that night, from sheer weakness, gave way to something else.

my allowment. 

i realized that going between here and there is a very natural segway. it’s not to be feared. 

but seeing his eyes, and his worry, made me want to kill the beast. to do whatever was necessary to be here. but just for him. for this boy, i reside in my bruised skin and sunken eyes.

forever i have wondered why i’m here, and where we are going. i don’t wonder those things anymore. now, i just revel, in the pain, the absolute boredom, and the fleetingness that is life.  

life is not a gift. it is an unending splendour. 

don’t ever miss the magnificence of it.

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crepitus of the soul 

just to know I’m alive 


life decisions

heeding the call 

45 grams of carbs only 

taking inventory 

begging inconsistency 

clenched teeth 

being basic 

faint mortality 

treating with kindness 

unjustly loving 

sharp needles 

repetitious movements 

long stares 

overweening empathy 

miracles of 107 ave 

limp meanings 


limitless life 


Maui sun 

they die too soon

breaking through

sublime measurements 

raw fucking

touching turtles 

blind freedom 

a beer 

friends with matching sofas 

torching others 

bland taste 

tempestuous sea urchins

tragedy in the suburbs 

whispering elders 

hidden words 


stormy fascinations 

quiet poverty 

life extending 

high sugar content 

pardoning relentlessly 

wombs of sad safety 

crepitus of the soul 

a purple lip 

a dog with a ball 

creeping rain upon you 

life everlasting 

a cigarette 

bleeding need 

chance encounters 

missing the mark 

abandonment and adornment 

bleak outcomes 

palpitations in seeing her 

quiet concealment 

Him at 3 

lightening crashes at midnight 

adsorbing sponges of sanctity 

free falling terror 

frog ribbits 

riding sprinklers without shadows 

thunder waking you 

red eruptions 

echoing drumbeats of life

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spinning wheel 

i wonder how you took the news?

that it was back for a second time

i wonder how you now sing?

your ever expanding rhyme

to cease to be

to come to a halt

to have life jar you 

with no safety belt 

how did you face

such uncertainty 

how did you remain so strong?

as your life hung faintly

did your soul know?

that this is the battle it would choose

did you somehow see?

the hidden, insidious hues 

Anne Roche, i will never meet another human like you

i will never glimpse again

the beauty you drew

the souls you helped

the friends you made

your love for animals

your make shift “kitty caves”

her steady hand held

the paintbrush to heal

her canvas of medicine 

became her spinning wheel 

a thread of their sorrow

a spool of their troubles

she wove it all in 

she spindled their fibres 

as her own heart broke 

she knit shapes and patterns 

a tapestry of patients saved 

a blanket in their dark caverns

a doctor with hard cases

a doctor with very little buffer

a doctor in distress

if any one person suffered 

a path is not chosen

it is merely given 

you loved yours fully

you were our prism…

so now that you’re gone

what do we do?

how do we move?

where is our cue?

your crystal eyed stare

a smile that was so real 

a blue heron in flight

now guiding us to feel

the flowers in her garden

continue to bloom

her presence in us

intertwines a new loom

that ominous diagnosis

took our friend

that unyielding mass

she could not mend

so, as we say goodbye

we keep Anne within 

the gel of her soul

we can say we have seen 

she would tell us all 

to continue our weaves

in the tapestry of life 

each one of us leaves

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the holding place 


Is the world sleeping, or are we awake? It does seem we wax and wane.  We all go between fully living to fully uninspired, don’t we? Or, once you find the way, does it last for you?  We edge forward, in little bursts of creative expression and expanding love.  Love you thought you got to the bottom of, only to find more…

And how does the mysterious reveal itself to you?  Today, for me, it came in an April snowfall.  It came in the bark of trees as it wore the wetness of the sky.  And what are we?  And where are we going? And what are we handing ourselves over to?  Our addictions?  Our inspirations?  Our bad habits, or our blessed kindness that even surprises our own selves? Our souls know how to find what we need always.  And what if we need nothing?  What if we were just okay, with how everything is going? What if we didn’t constantly ache for more?  Work for more?  What if we stopped, and checked ourselves?  Saw where our very being was, right in front of us, leading us on.  

What if we paused to look at that one little star in the snowy sky? 

For most of us, God is something very sacred.  It is something we keep within, speaking only when the words are there.  I try not to speak of God too often, because people get uneasy.  But what’s to be uneasy about?  Why does the word or idea of God make so many itch in their seat, and their eyes dart anywhere but the conversation before them?  Or, maybe, for them, God is not something to be spoken of willy nilly.  There is something to be said about keeping what is special, quiet.   

It would not be honest for me to keep God out of my writing.  To not include that Being in what I feel somehow guides my life, would be a disservice.  You don’t have to listen. You don’t have to read my words.  There is danger in being honest about what stirs you.  There is danger in speaking overbeamingly about God when others may have a different idea of what guides their life.

It seems the older I get, the less use I have for meaningless chat.  That I somehow seek the deep in others.  And mostly, I find the ones seeking that as well.  It is a comfort knowing we walk the shared journey together, isn’t it?  

The chatter.  The penetrating loud laughter.  The tones and decibels in their unseeing voices. Their incredible need to be seen, because they do not feel seen at all.  I find them deafening and odd, but I am truly looking for a way to honour them in some way.  I truly ponder their existence and why they bump into me.  And although I mostly want to get away, to something more serene, I realize my judgements harm no one but myself.  That this actually reflects my own inadequacy.  That they seem happy, so I should be happy for them.  

I do seek the strong however.  Those who are living a fully encompassed life.  I have encountered beings with strength I will never possess.  I have bumped into people who I will forever carry with me, due to the sheer will of their heart, and the profoundness of their souls.  People who speak quietly, ask for nothing, whilst silently battling the greatest battle of all.  

I think a hard life somehow builds character, and makes you more appealing.  The fact that you face all that, and still rise, moves me in the most cathartic ways.  I cannot grasp the strength in you, but I can honour you for it.

You embracing your journey so succinctly, brings me peace in knowing.  


Please know I see you, and am grateful for the in between…

And as these ideas knock around in my head, I will keep your soul close to mine in prayer, in love, and in God.

I do believe in God.  I do believe we go on to something spectacular. And knowing you has been a most splendid thing, and I will never forget the time we spent.  Ever.

To all of you on the journey of life, embrace it.  Live through your pain, and transcend your limitations.  I don’t know how you do what you do. 

The truth is, you seekers, you are what inspire me most.  You, who constantly scan your own energy, as opposed to selfie taking.  You, who always seek to give as opposed to take.  You, who do not seek to overwhelm with need, but share.  Who meditate and move their bodies in beautiful ways.  Who self reflect, without using it to brandish their ego or take another down.  Who listen, instead of rushing to speak.   

You are what I am drawn to.  

I am off to bed, and I know you will come into my dreams again.  That sacred place of upliftment, life and love that is the Holding Place…

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