Who is The White Girl?
My name is Dawn Kostelnik and I am the White Girl, Mola ‘tu ‘we’. In the 1960’s, my father was hired by the Canadian Government to work as an Indian Agent in the tiny native village of Fort Norman, N.W.T. My father is known by the people on the river as Somba ralla; the moneylender. My life was changed forever. The Dhe Cho became my home, the Mighty Mackenzie River in Canada’s Arctic. This is the home of the Dene, a Native people of the River. I stood on the shores of a far away world and watched as civilization flew in politicians, oranges and whisky.
I am Mola ‘tu ‘we’, the little white girl that bounces around the edges of the lives of ancient peoples. My ears are cocked for knowledge, my eyes wide open, my heart hoping that I will never forget these things that I have seen. Even as a very little girl I know that this way of life is slipping away. The old life is being carried up and far away to the stars with the winds created by the great new breath that heralds the arrival of the people of the south.
From the Mackenzie River I travel to the crystal waters of the Arctic Ocean. Home to smiling faces with almond eyes; their tongues mutter a language that catches in throats. Inuit, the eaters of raw meat, live in this vast frozen vista, witness to Islands that float high in the sky above rough diamonds of sea ice. Fermented seal flipper, indescribable. Old ways are remembered still, ancient beliefs lie embedded in the DNA of forgotten bones frozen in the permafrost; their wildness now running in the blood of the next generation of Inuktitut. (Eskimo). Come, listen.
After this amazing time in my life, I lived in the land of gold, in Whitehorse, the capital city of the Yukon Territory, Canada. Whitehorse was once a city open and raw that well suited miners, pipeliners and trappers… and those with wildness in their hearts. Change is what happens, the politicians showed up here with the oranges and whiskey as well. They brought the bureaucrats from the south to fix what was not broken.
Today, I live in Powell River, British Columbia. Our adventures on the Audrey Eleanor brought us here, and this is where we have decided to stay. In addition to writing, I work as a realtor, among other things.
Where do those of us with the wildness in our hearts go? Is there a little piece of earth hidden behind the clouds and just over the mountain that still gives you room to breath and lets you live your life unshackled? I do not know this place today. I can only remember these places from when I was a child. Come with me and I will share these memories with you now.
These are my stories, and they are not to be confused with yours. Some names have been changed, and some have not. Most of the people that I write about are still alive. If you think one of these stories is about you, it probably isn’t. But, let me know if it bothers you and I can change your name and take out your picture. This is not fiction.
P.S. May your heart be strong and the blood rushing through your veins be heated with wildness, may your spirit not be tamed and may you not become a sheeple.
In the language of the Northern Slavey, Mashi dwai, thank you very much for joining me.
These stories were originally published in the Whitehorse Star.