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OUT OF OFFICE PODCAST
Episode 4
Moccasins and mukluks; reconnecting with indigenous cultures + navigating female solo travel.

Sarain Fox

Kelly Thorpe







[00:00:04]
Travel creates stories unforgettable stories that can make a smile laugh or even cry. I'm David Calderon and you're listening to out of office. Powered by Kentucky. This podcast is for people who love to travel in each episode. We'll be talking about hot topics and intriguing destinations on today's episode. I'm going to be speaking to two brilliant women indigenous Canadian activists serene Fox will be telling me about the role travel can play in reconciliation between cultures and blogger Keli Thorp will be convincing me why solo travel is a great idea.

Sarain Fox

[00:00:45] Now we're all born with the same potential. But you know some humans go that extra mile. They take a challenge and they turn it into an opportunity. These are incredible humans that inspire us to do better and to be better. And today we're going to hear from the incredible serene Fox serene is an indigenous Canadian activist who has been helping young indigenous Canadians to reconnect with their culture at the story boot school. She joins us now to tell us more. Welcome to the podcast Lorraine.

[00:01:17] How are you. I'm great thanks.

[00:01:19] Thanks so much for having me. No thank you for being here. Now I know I just introduced you as an activist but that's barely the tip of the iceberg of you. You have many different roles. You're a storyteller and you're also a host for Iceland correct.

[00:01:29] Yes. So it took me a long time to actually decide that that was the best way to describe what I do. But truly I am a storyteller I use any medium I can get my hands on to amplify the voices of my people and to tell our collective stories as human beings.

[00:01:46] That's awesome. Now I saw that you come from a Syrian like tribe or like nation. I know I cannot pronounce Can you pronounce it. Where are you from.

[00:01:55] Yeah. So I think the word you're referring to is a National Bakery.

[00:01:59] So I'm finished Nabi which is Ojibwe and I'm from Northern Ontario on the shore of Lake Superior.

[00:02:06] Okay awesome. But you also have your own show on Iceland right.

[00:02:09] I do have a show called rise and it's really about Franklin resistance and all of the movement that's happening for Indigenous people across the world really.

[00:02:19] No that's awesome. So you don't just like focus on just the indigenous people in Canada your looks like on the global scale.

[00:02:23] Absolutely. I'm South America and also what Indigenous people are working on all over the world to change the perception of indigenous people and the work that we're doing.

[00:02:34] Now I know that you work with Indigenous people and I can tell you're really passionate about it. But like at what point did you think that this was something that you wanted to do.

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[00:02:42]
Yeah. I don't know if there was like an exact moment but I think I grew up in a really politically active family. And when I started to realize that I was going to be an artist I realized that the only story is that I was interested in when the stories of my people and I knew that there was so much work and so much space for us to still claim so many people don't know anything about indigenous people.

[00:03:04] And you're talking to someone from America. I know exactly right. I know this to me.

[00:03:12] So it just seemed like a no brainer for me. It was something like you said I'm very passionate about it but it's also it's my authentic voice it's where I come from. So it's the way that I see the world. So it just it's natural to me I think.

[00:03:26] OK so when did you start becoming like very politically active.

[00:03:30] That started when I was probably a young teenager. So right around the time when I started to find my voice I also realized the power of of someone's voice and what it means to be silenced and also what it means to reclaim space. I think the typical years when most teenagers are trying to figure out who they are is also the moment where I jumped into activism and I found it a really amazing tool to figure out who I am.

[00:03:53] It's amazing once you feel that power and then you know the difference that you can make. I don't think you can ever go back from that change changes how you see the world.

[00:04:01] Yeah. No no I'd I definitely agree with that. So you've also done some work with story about school in Canada now you're trying to help other young Canadians kind of reconnect with our culture. Can you tell me a little bit more about that.

[00:04:14] Yeah. So the story at school with Manitoba macaques is in partnership with the trade right foundation and it's a program I'm so excited I get so excited to talk about it because I think the work is so important.

[00:04:27] So we have a school in China at the bottom Shoe Museum which for your listeners is this like massive museum all about shoes and they have the largest collection or one of the largest collections of moccasins and McCulloch. So we teach classes there they run every Sunday and they're open to everyone but they really focus on young Indigenous people who are looking to learn the traditional art of their ancestors. So in one way it's just a class where people are learning how to make moccasins in my class but in another way it's so much more than that I call it reconciliation Lite. So it's talking to each other. It's actually doing something that their ancestors did and it's reclaiming a part of themselves that they might have never gotten to know yet.

[00:05:12] How long do would you say would normally take someone to like can you make a moccasin.

[00:05:16] I can make a moccasin but I am not like an expert as some of our favorite school teachers are.

[00:05:23] We have some teachers who can make a full set of moccasins and an hour to an hour.

[00:05:27] And I was reminded watching like how long would it take to actually like make a like a full pair.

[00:05:30] Yeah probably for someone who has never done it. It takes the full course if not way longer. So at least a couple months. But for experts they can they can roll out moccasins a day at a time.

[00:05:41] That is definitely a skill to have.

[00:05:44] Absolutely. So then you know it's it's interesting to learn about your history in that way too. Moccasins where the traditional footwear for people in North America. So when you're making a moccasin you can think about that. This is what people were walking around in the same places that I'm walking around in today.

[00:06:01] No. No I mean it's definitely like rooted in your culture so it's definitely it's something you want to keep alive you don't want to lose that. Yeah. So how did you get involved with Ted right.

[00:06:11] So I am an ambassador for Manitoba my Clarks Manitoba McCulloch's is a Canadian indigenous footwear brand and we make moccasins and collects.

[00:06:20] And so I got to understand the work that Ted Wright is doing through that program and now I have the opportunity to to see all of the work that they're doing but to really stand with the work that they're doing in particular in the people pillar so Fredrick does amazing things all over the world. And I happen to have been working with them through the lens of Manitoba McCulloch. But I'm hoping to do a bunch more incredible work in the future for them as well.

[00:06:46] No that's awesome. You mentioned earlier reconciliation. Can you tell me a little bit more about the idea of reconciliation like what it is between indigenous people and settler communities.

[00:06:57] Reconciliation stems from the idea of literally reconciling our collective past and understanding the truth of our history especially in North America something I like to call the first chapter. So not just starting on the arrival and the building of Canada and the U.S. but actually talking about before that and really honoring the truth of the people who are here first and then reconciling that our relationship from the very beginning maybe was complicated and we need to be able to honor each other's truth so that we can create better relationships with each other in the future.

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[00:07:33]
I again like I said from the beginning for America 100 percent agree with that complete like sentiment right there it's just it's it's just so surprising that like here in 2019 it's such a such a still a thing.

[00:07:47] Well yeah. That the fact that you know kids don't learn about this history in school and that you're right. 2019 and we're still talking about it as most people don't know anything about indigenous people or our history.

[00:08:01] And I think we have a responsibility to fix that and to change that and to ensure that future generations know the truth of their history. And so that they can choose to make different choices than we made when we first met each other.

[00:08:16] No no no I agree. Do you think travel complete and put in rule in reconciliation.

[00:08:21] Absolutely. I think travel and connecting with other communities and also the way we travel absolutely plays a role in reconciliation. So I often joke that Indigenous people were the first tour guides but I I know there's truth to that.

[00:08:37] There is truth there.

[00:08:38] Right.

[00:08:39] I mean you think about it right no matter where you are or all indigenous to somewhere and there's no denying that the locals are always going to be the number one resource to figure out where to go and how to how to also be respectful and to operate protocols to that land. So I think the real reconciliation and travel is touching down in another place in someone else's community and being able to connect with the locals and to understand exactly where you are and not just experience all of the fun things but actually talk to the people who are from there and figure out how they would want you to walk in their lands.

[00:09:16] I think that's very well said like obviously now with social media and everything. That's a big part when people go travelling you know if you're like snapping pictures and trying to like show where they aren't all the time. Do you think social media can help with reconciliation.

[00:09:30] Absolutely. So like you said people are using social media all the time and in so many ways we're more connected than we've ever been.

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[00:09:37] And I just think that social media has to be the first step so we can use it to connect and to share and to see the world through each other's eyes. But when we touch down we have to also remember to reach out and to connect and to listen to each other's stories. So I always say make sure that before you snapped a photo you listen to the story. So even when you touch down and you're in a forest like take a minute take a deep breath actually enjoy where you are before you're just like posted it on social media exactly like I am.

[00:10:10] I'm all about social media but it has to happen seconds so deep breath first photos. Yeah.

[00:10:17] I'm always trying to think like what I tell my grandkids about this trip and I know that's kind of like a lot of weight to put on maybe a young millennial but I think if we start to think like that when we're young it changes the gravity of every decision we make. Like what would I tell my grandkids or my kids about this experience like how am I going to hold onto it. What do I want to physically remember. Not just in a post that I can refer back to but what do I want to remember and I think in that way if you're thinking that way also the content that you generate will be more authentic and be something that you want to remember as well.

[00:10:55] Yes. Very well said. Would you say to other Indigenous young people who they feel disconnected from the roots and you know maybe expressing some sort of trauma like around that like what would be your advice to them.

[00:11:07] Yeah great question. I. My advice to all young people is that you're not running out of time. You don't have to feel pressured. You have so much time to find who you are and to really look back into your roots if you're searching for who you are then all of the answers are out there. You just have to be willing to find them and don't get discouraged. All of us are looking and searching whether it be for what we want to do or where we want to go in the world. But if you're looking for your roots you're not alone. All of us are on a journey and looking into how our past informs our future. So don't be discouraged just continue to do that work and to figure out who you are. You know it's really cheesy but the only people who can define that and can do that work is ourselves. And we really have to be willing to invest in to do that work for for us.

[00:12:03] No no I agree. I fly I do like cheesy. No but it's just it's true though like you know we're all just on our own journey.

[00:12:10] You know it's a journey of self discovery it's not about the destination it's all about the journey.

[00:12:14] So see how when cheesy that too I think that was very well said like there's no rush to it.

[00:12:21] Yeah. And I think you know I find it I find so many and people say like well I didn't grow up with my culture and because of that I'm I feel lost in the world.

[00:12:31] And that's a really really tough place to be especially if you're indigenous because our culture was taken from us but there's never been a more exciting time for us as Indigenous people because there are so many resources and places that we can go to reconnect like what we were talking about with Staub at school like even something as small as going to a class once a week to build moccasins can teach you about who you are and you can find those things in any anywhere you want to look. You just have to be willing to look.

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[00:13:04]
What advice would you give to young people to be more sensitive when they visit different communities especially like special when they travel. Like what would you say to them.

[00:13:12] Yeah I'd be curious and be willing to listen.

[00:13:16] So whenever I travel I never. I make sure never to tell people who are from an area about their own community. I listen to them and let them tell me about it even if I've read up you know for weeks about where I'm going. I can never know more than their lived experience. So be humble.

[00:13:37] I find that when you're humble and your travelling is often when you get the best experiences because people will open up their hearts and their land to you and you'll get to experience the magic and then also I would say that you should always trust the experts. So I think in the age of social media we've become so good at just sort of planning our own trips and figuring everything out. And then maybe even just like landing in what I would call like outback communities or or indigenous communities without any support. And this is the one time that I would say like if you're looking to travel and to have experiences with indigenous communities then look to the experts who already have created a relationship or a positive way to engage with that community because you don't want to just show up.

[00:14:26] So there are all kinds of amazing places that you can look.

[00:14:29] No I agree it's like you want to go straight to the source.

[00:14:32] Absolutely. So we we feel so independent with social media you know we feel like we can plan anything and do anything but we're all experts. Yeah I I I actually like real experts so I I tend to lean on them whenever I can.

[00:14:47] Well thank you so much Soraya. You have been amazing. Thank you so much for having me. It's been a lot of fun.

[00:14:55] Thank you to the brilliant serene Fox for telling us about her work with the young Indigenous Canadians. Now I have a question for you. Have you ever traveled solo or are you curious.

[00:15:06] Maybe you're nervous. That's why I'm here to speak to blogger Kelly Thorpe who's going to convince us why solo travel is a great idea. Welcome to the show Kylie. How are you. I'm good. How are you. I'm good. I'm good. And so I hear you're currently in L.A. celebrating your 30th birthday.

[00:15:22] I am. I'm just about to leave though to fly to Mexico today. My husband and I are doing a road trip along the Pacific coast of Baja California. We both say that we'd rather spend our money on travel because I think it's an experience and a memory you create and you can always hold that to you and it has so much more value than things I think.

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[00:15:41] All right tell me about your little solo travel.

[00:15:43] How did that come about so my first solo travel was act proper so travel I consider it was to India with Kentucky. It was kind of the original plan was actually for my husband to come but he couldn't get time off work actually. And at the time I was really nervous. I was thinking I'm so used to travelling with dad everywhere especially to places like as far as India. So I was a bit nervous but I researched the place. I thought India was an amazing experience that I just had to do once in my life. And so that was where outside I wanted to go. And yeah I basically flew to India to Delhi alone and joined in with a tour group with Tiki with people I didn't know and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

[00:16:28] To be honest I felt like I've never been to India and it's definitely one of my top three destinations like big trips I kind of go but I know it's not going to be like this or a relaxing holiday and it's very hectic and very like culture shock and I generally want to go but again I don't know if I could do that by myself.

[00:16:44] I think you know what I really think you could like. I think people have this perception that like it's gonna be so busy and that you're not going to have a moment it's just it's just crazy but it's just it's so the experiences you have like the feelings being in a country that I gave you is amazing and when you were no night I think you can take it anymore. I know that sounds really silly but when you're travelling with someone you also have to cater for the needs of someone else but when you're travelling alone you make the decisions the way you wanted to want to do.

[00:17:14] Yeah. So what was your husband's reaction to your solo travelling like and how did you like family. Think about it especially since you were going away to India.

[00:17:21] We were a bit worried because obviously with the news you often hear things you know how you are as a woman there and how safe you can be. And so as a female solo woman travelling I was nervous about traveling to India and obviously he like my family were as well because they just was like oh you're going to be OK and you don't know anybody like Hey Will it be how you feel.

[00:17:43] So yeah. But they were really supportive and they were really excited for me because they were like This is an incredible opportunity and I just said to them I was like I need to do this once in my life because I just I just think you should I think you should everyone should solo travel at least once. It's just like incredible.

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[00:17:59]
Now that's that's something that's really interesting because I'm pretty sure there's a lot of couples who are listening in right now. So how important do you think it is for couples who've been together for years to be able to let their partner travel solo.

[00:18:11] I think it's so important because honestly you learn so much about yourself being alone like I was able to like get used to my own company and I think is so important for people to do that because we just you know I just need time to like be with yourself and know and have some time to get to know yourself a bit more and just like be in the choir and do things you like. I had a lot of time to read in the evenings and you know I relax and I just I don't know it's just so it was really amazing. I didn't think I would enjoy it but I really did and it's changed my perspective of how I feel about being by myself now.

[00:18:47] Did you learn anything about yourself while travelling alone. Were there any epiphanies or just realizations.

[00:18:52] I think more than anything I realized that I don't need to be so scared that I'm actually a capable young woman that I can do I can travel on my own and I felt safe I felt secure I felt like I you know I knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to see and I you definitely I knew that I could do it. I think before I wasn't sure that I have the capability to do it like I wasn't brave enough really and that I wouldn't be able to cope with being alone but actually I I just I felt like I felt amazing I felt really inspired by by the fact that I just gave myself that time and night and especially in a country like India where it is so crazy and so busy I just yeah it was amazing.

[00:19:33] I mean I think one of the best things about when you travel alone is I train but I would meet like so many people just because you have to talk to people. Yeah I'm not talking to anyone. Have you made any friends when you were travelling solo and do you still keep in touch with them.

[00:19:46] I made so many friends and I still keep in touch with and obviously you you literally meet people from all across the world like my friends that I met on the tour from Australia Canada some were from the UK you know all over the place and it is amazing because you realize you you can just learn so much by peoples in such a short time and you get so close so fast because you're travelling together and like one of my friends actually just recently sent me this amazing care package from Australia.

[00:20:15] So I mean in the post we had where we were we were really close on our trip and then I came home the other day and I had to package my neighbor not the and she's got a package. I wasn't expecting anything and I opened this box and inside was like veggie my there was like Tim Tams everything Australian was in this box there's like a little koala bear his sister even drew me a little koala bear picture I can see that's real friendship friendship send you things in the post and help you move but that's what I'm saying like you can you realize you think that when you get to a certain age that there's like no room for you to make more friends. But I just think that's not true. Like you go out there like you experience something and you kind of step out of your comfort zone and you know you don't go on an all inclusive holiday and you oh you know you don't do something that you do every year the same thing and you'll be surprised just how empowering and amazing it is and how that gives you the opportunity to open doors to meet new people that perhaps that you know you wouldn't. I didn't have any friends in Australia before now and now I have friends in Australia. You know I mean this is amazing. She's so sweet as well. Bella I'm going to centre like a London care package as well.

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[00:21:20] Oh you have to you have to see how she's like. She like raising the bar. You have to. All right. So it sounds like you really like travelling solo low standards you had like a good time so you would totally do it again right.

[00:21:31] I would. Honestly I would absolutely in a heartbeat do it again and it's just. Yeah. I think once you get the bug for it I think I think you do want to do it a lot. I just I'm definitely not afraid to do it again.

[00:21:44] All right. So I mean you sold me but I'm pretty sure there's still some people who are listening who are literally so petrified about traveling solo they just cannot picture themselves out of their comfort zone. So what are three reasons you would give them that would convince them that you know what. Pack up your bags just leave everything and just go on your own.

[00:22:03] First of all the reason being is that we ask like in our normal day to day to day lives we can. We often do like the same thing all the time. And like you get to the point where everything becomes like robotic and going away on a solo trip it is so scary. And I know it's like at the beginning it feels scary but like I think people often confuse fear with excitement and I think actually it's exciting and exhilarating to be somewhere where you're in charge of your trip you're in charge completely if you don't have to pander to the needs of anybody else you're on the trip with you you're like OK. I want to wake up at half past nine today I want to make a five or you know I want to go for a wander I want to go to this place and when you're with someone else you have to kind of you have to accommodate the needs of the people with you. You know you have to compromise and with a solo trip there is no compromise you can do exactly what you want when you want.

[00:23:00] So the first reason would be as you're you're in charge of your time you are you're going to wherever you want to go and seeing which you want to see you're on your own timetable.

[00:23:08] Exactly. Second of all I would say like for me personally I was really nervous of travelling on my own because I'm not I'm plus size. So I was always like were you nervous about being in another country where I felt like maybe people might judge me for the way I looked or you know a lot people have like travel anxiety. And like self-confidence issues and like how can I be by myself and you know feel confident. And it actually made me feel more comfortable than ever because you know you just it just proves to you that you don't like if you actually push through your fears you couldn't overcome them. And I just think it's so important to do that. And I always used to have like my husband's with me and anything upset me I would obviously have him to lean on. But you know I and I always I could text if I wanted to but actually being able to like process any moment that's happening and be like OK that happened and like what can I do to change it. Like usually it's nothing. And you just hold it and you like OK. That was perhaps like I think to be realistic not even with so travelling. Nothing is ever going to be smooth and perfect. But that's part of the fun. But yeah I just think it is I think it's definitely a way to build self-confidence and the confidence to know that you can handle it by yourself don't you.

[00:24:25] Yeah exactly. And finally I would say to do something. To prove people wrong in a way like I know a lot people think like it's not you shouldn't solo travel it's not safe and I think actually a lot of it is exaggerated. I felt that way because I was like oh gosh what if something happened. But there was some amazing networks you can join. People want to solo travel. You meet people everywhere like there's so many like if you go to like bars and places and there are tons of solo travellers that are also traveling around like. And you just Yeah. I think it's just pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and just going for it.

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[00:25:03]
I think it's kind of it's kind of something like It's not personal growth.

[00:25:07] Yes absolutely personal growth. Honestly I just I loved it. I read it. I think everyone just book it to get go now.

[00:25:17] OK I'm packing my bags right now I'm off to India.

[00:25:19] You know even if it's for three or four days or a little long weekend somewhere or even at the very least you can do it is like a little kind of night stay somewhere just to like tease yourself in and ease yourself into a situation. I honestly I just love it.

[00:25:33] Well I mean you've literally convinced me already have I. I mean I would do in a heartbeat. But thank you so much Carly I really appreciate you taking the time to come talk to Q I'd love to.

[00:25:46] That's it for today's episode of out of office. Powered by Con Ticky. Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss the next episode. I'm going to be speaking to make and Lindsay kale about their experiences of travelling as an LGBTQ couple to countries with strict laws against homosexuality.

[00:26:04] I'll also be catching up with journalist Adam Hancock about the things to see do and eat in Africa. I'll see you then.