Hope Among Us: Rylee Peltier
Updated: Jul 12, 2019
A story that proves maturity and growth can come at any age. Rylee Peltier, a Deer Clan teen from Wikwemikong Unceded Territory has faced her share of struggles, yet has shown that at any age, you can not only overcome trauma, but inspire others with your story as well.
Rylee is currently a grade nine student, with an interest in politics, music, and science. She also considers herself an advocate for Indigenous rights and the awareness of MMIWG. Rylee detailed her experiences in an interview, explaining how her exposure to violence at a young age forced her to mature. “Often I would find myself not caring like I usually would ...Activities I adored would seem useless and dull to me. I would separate myself from my family and friends, believing I was a nuisance. I would hide my feelings and shame myself for feeling too deeply,” Rylee recounted.
When things progressed, she began to resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms, including self harm. Rylee described her thought process from when things were at her worst, “My self worth was plummeting, getting out of bed was a hard painful task, and a lot of the time I wondered why I was alive. I believed it would make no difference if I were dead. Everything just seemed so surreal and terrible.”
In terms of healing, Rylee said that there wasn’t one specific thing that helped her to overcome her struggles. However, she explained that her connections and relationships were a large factor in her growth. Her teachers, friends, and family all offered their support in her time of need. “They helped me [to] realize my potential and showed [me] nothing but kindness and love. I thank them for their unconditional belief in me”. Rylee said that her involvement in activism gave her a sense of worth as well. Seeing how she was capable of making a difference and doing good gave her an outlet to feel as if she had a purpose. She believes that her history of trauma doesn’t stop her from evolving and helping others.
As a message to other Indigenous youth facing similar struggles, Rylee said, “Your ancestors survived through so much so you could live. There is something for everyone and you will find it. There’s a reason why you’re still fighting and waking up, there’s always a reason to live.” In the future, she hopes to see youth pursuing their educations and becoming more involved. Rylee envisions her community creating a balance of the medicine wheel so elders can continue teaching and sharing. Rylee would like to see communities encouraging their youth to participate in traditional methods of healing, whether that be ceremonies, fasting, beading, smudging, praying, etc.. She believes nurturing youth into a healthy mindset, and working to understand them is a way to reach and support the coming generations.
You can follow Rylee on social media at @rylee_peltier on Instagram.