Eldah tsimxs wa ‘I , lax Gibuu pdeek’e, wilp Luus win sawhlwe, Gitxsan Nation, ad ja gan wilt. My traditional Gitxsan name is Eldah Tsimxs; translated into English, it means ‘The last one to come in, so basically a doorkeeper, in that no one will be left out. I am a member of the wolf clan and belong to the house of Luus within the Gitxsan Nation. My given name is Laureen Harriet Weget, and I was born and raised with eleven sisters and brothers. I am a middle child in the Gitxsan village of Anspayaxw, which is in the northwest interior of British Columbia. Fortunately, I grew up in a home with my maternal grandmother, Mrs Ellen Johnson, Naah. She lived with us, as did my mother and father, Mrs Dorthy Weget and Mr Alvin Weget. I have been happily married for the past 32 years. I am a mother of 5 children, my son, thirty-eight, is the eldest, followed by my four daughters, 30, 23, and the twins, 21. I have five grandchildren, the eldest being 17 and the youngest three months. I made a personal choice to be clean and sober as I struggled with addiction in my younger years due to surviving Indian Day School. Remaining sober has been the best decision I’ve ever made for myself and my family. I am a hand drummer, singer, and dance instructor of our traditional music. I love the culture I was raised in and what I have learned to help me balance myself and ground myself using our land, water, and air. I was informally introduced to the hand drum at a very young age, so it became second nature to pick it up as I was immersed in the music and movement in my Gitksan. Thankfully I understand the good sign language, and I can speak it but not fluently. I can be understood in conversation, which is very important to my being and who I am today and where I am going in the future. It is also important for my children, my grandchildren, and my children’s great-grandchildren.
What keeps you motivated on a daily basis?
My family and my children are what keep me motivated daily. I value my family in every sense of the word. They are my medicine; without them, I would be very poor. They are my inspiration and give me the strength to keep moving forward. I am grateful for what it is that I have every day. I am thankful to my ancestors for guiding and directing me and continuing to help me persevere through all the life lessons and hardships. I am grateful for who I am.
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would you tell yourself?
If I could give my younger self a message, I would say don’t be so hard on yourself. You are more powerful than whatever people have thrown at you. Don’t let anything hold you down. You are beautiful. Keep smiling and bringing all your light to wherever you go. You turn heads and light up a room no matter what anyone says to you to try to put you down.
Do you have a mantra you live by? What I like to say and take with me from our very amazing program is principal before personality. Always remember where you come from; no matter how far you go, that is where you will return to my Naah’s famous words. “I am a gorgeous, intelligent, powerful woman who inspires others through how I carry myself. I am thankful for all the values, lessons, and teachings of the Gitxsan, which were instilled whether I knew it or not. Sitting around that big wooden table eating my supper with all 11 of my siblings prepared me for life. I thank my father, Alvin Weget, my mother, Dorothy Weget and of course, the most wonderful teacher of all Ellen Johnson, my Naah.