Self-Isolation Diary: A Day in the Life of Indigenous Activist Sarain Fox
"I’ve been taking my meditation practice into the evenings. When I see the light changing, I stop everything I’m doing and go watch the sun go down."
We’re officially in Month 3 of self-isolation with an uncertain road ahead but for some much-needed inspiration, FASHION is reaching out to some of our favourite Canadians to get a peek into how they’re living their lives in lockdown (remember: #StayHomeSaveLives). Each week, keep an eye out for new self-isolation diaries from actors, designers, influencers and artists who are riding this uncertain time out with us.
Sarain Fox, Indigenous artist and activist
I’ve been isolating in rural Ontario for over eight weeks now. This felt like the most natural place for me to isolate. I need to be close to the land, where I can be with the trees and the birds. Before Mother’s Day, the cedars were still dancing next to wintered grey and brown poplars. I see resilience in the landscape. It’s barely warm enough for us to be outside, but flowers are starting to come to up. Spring is when new life is around us.
Quarantine for me has been about facing my own rhythm. A lot of us have spent our entire lives on someone else’s rhythm, and we haven’t had a chance to get to know ourselves. One of the greatest gifts I was given as a young person was a lot of alone time. My mom taught me to be alone with myself, to do things like fasting, and that’s something a lot of people don’t get to do.
I’ve settled into my routine, but it wouldn’t have been possible without these few things: my partner Tara, a connection to my community, the land, my cats Wagoosh and Semonce, the sun-kissed wind and my go-to Canada Goose outerwear (especially during these last-ditch-winter-polar-vortex conditions). I’ve also been keeping a few practices that continue to help me find peace—and even joy—during the ups and downs of life in self-isolation.
Greeting the Day with Intention:
I’ve made it a priority to greet each day with an intention. First thing I take a sip of water and offer gratitude for life itself. My mornings are personal check-in time. I make a point of rising with the sun every day and taking in the real beauty of the morning. This is when I journal, scroll through Instagram and do my yoga. It’s a quiet and slow time to be with myself.
Fuelling My Mind and Body:
I’ve been making sure that I’m making food and eating what’s good for my body and my mind. It is mishkiki (medicine). I make a mean French press – and I have always loved coffee. I like a Bulletproof first thing – a mix of grass-fed butter, MCT oil, expresso and coconut milk. I grew up without most dairy, gluten, sugar or “junk food.” As an adult, I have focused on listening to my body. I like to eat like my ancestors did, harvesting in season and forging from the land. Right now, I am excited for fiddleheads. And soon it’ll be strawberry season. This time of year, food is all about fresh goodness coming right from my front yard.
Listening to Music of Resilience:
I’ve been listening to a lot of records (I am an avid vinyl collector) and even created a playlist titled ‘Isolation Land’ on Spotify. It is full of songs of resilience inspired by spring and the current state of the world. I have songs from Digging Roots, Nao, Galt MacDermot and Jesse Ed Davis on the list. I created it to move you beyond the four walls where you feel confined. I usually put it on when I’m tinkering around the house or want to be transported to a different place. I love how music can do that.
Reading and Watching:
With the slower days, I’ve been so grateful to be able to get back to reading. Books are a powerful way to let go of stale patterns of thought, especially when I’m looking for a perspective that’s outside of mine. Sometimes I need a journey to understand new lessons or someone else’s human experience. The books I’m currently reading are Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle and Starlight by Richard Wagamese.
When I’m in the mood to binge on something, I tend to go back and forth between movies and shows; guilty pleasures and documentaries. The best is when they are both. My favourites currently are: Blood Quantum, The Last Dance, The Grizzlies, Rumble and Smoke Signals to name a few.
Connecting with the Land:
The land is a huge part of my being and my Anishinaabe heritage. Winter leaves behind old life as protection for new life, so Spring is about tending and seeing where the land wants to grow. I’m starting to get my hands in the soil and preparing the ground for planting. I’m gathering cedar to boil for tea and cedar water for cleaning or having a bath in—it’s traditionally lung medicine and has antimicrobial properties. I believe that we’re inherently part of the land, and that, if we allow ourselves to see it, we’re always being held and nurtured by it. It’s my connection to the land helps me remember that I’m not isolated or disconnected. Instead, I’m part of an ever-present universe that is intricate and constantly evolving to keep us alive. As an Indigenous person, gratitude isn’t just about acknowledging the things I have, it is also about caring for the people who’ve made it possible for me to be here. For me, a spiritual practice is making sure those around me have what they need. I’m doing some distant rounds for the elders in my life, dropping off things they love and I know will make them smile.
Staying Connected from Afar:
When I’m not working, I usually actively try to put my device away. Now, I’m so grateful for technology! I’m staying grounded by creating a rhythm with my friends where we treat our virtual check-ins like they’re real life. If I’m hopping on a Zoom with my sisters, it’s an unmovable date, just like if I were showing up at their house.
Letting Nature Entertain Me:
I’ve been taking my meditation practice into the evenings. When I see the light changing, I stop everything I’m doing and go watch the sun go down. The sky puts on this giant show for us in the evenings, and it feels like a personal drive-in movie theatre experience every time. My mom and I have always gone storm fishing (that’s when you chase storms to experience their beauty). The spring thunders light up the sky with dances of light crashing to the earth. Watching the storms roll across my fields is one of my favourite meditations right now. As the sun dims, I zip on something warm like my Canada Goose vest or my lightweight down jacket to layer up.
Then I gather kindling and make a fire. I think of all my friends and kin together having the same fire, just in different places.