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Meet Telxnitkw (Standing By Water), Elaine Alec. Elaine is a successful author, a political advisor and activist, women’s rights activist, spiritual teacher, and has been an Indigenous champion, leader and mentor for much of her life. This is the latest instalment of my Women of INfluence series. Telxnitkw; a woman who has experienced trauma, knows discrimination, and currently educates us on human decency.

Elaine grew up in the Okanagan area of British Columbia as part of the Syilx and Secwepemc nations.  The Syilx tribe have historically covered  a large area in Southern British Columbia, and extend into northern Washington State, consisting of seven communities within that area. 

The Secwepemc nation, which is the nation Elaine’s father was a part of, has held their territory amongst Central-Southern British Columbia for over 12,000 years.  However, the area is not as vast as it once was, before the Europeans began to settle in, this nation spanned approximately 180,000 sq. kms. Needless to say, Elaine is part of a deep history of Indigenous community that has embedded roots that not many other cultures can claim to have in B.C., nor across Canada.

Elaine spends so much of her time just trying to stand up for what’s right for her family, her fellow women, her community, and her heritage.  Elaine has founded or has led numerous initiatives for community growth and planning in British Columbia. Details of these initiatives can be found at the bottom of this post.

Instagram: @elaine_alec_writer_speaker

Elaine conducts a workshop called “Cultivating Safe Spaces”, directed towards Health care workers, government employees, leaders and public speakers who would like to learn more about conflict resolution, inclusion, diversity and knowledge on how to deal with people whom have experienced trauma in their past.  If you’re interested in this workshop, please check it out here.

When Elaine isn’t being a multi-dimensional leader, she’s still openly learning about herself and understanding her past.  Her latest exhibition of this is “Calling My Spirit Back” a wonderful and emotional autobiographical recollection of her childhood all the way through to her recent adulthood. Being a white male, I knew I had much to learn from this book, and was convinced quickly that I would be encountering some deep cultural struggles. But Elaine’s encouraging testimonies throughout the book are what have stayed with me.  The first paragraph is both tragic & inspiring, stating “There are many forces that can damage a community and the people within it, especially those who have become marginalized by forces beyond their control. But indigenous peoples have always carried the knowledge necessary to heal. When our people heal, our families heal, our communities heal, and our land will heal. You cannot have one without the others.[1]

This book not only speaks of teachings and stories that she was told by Chiefs, community members, her mother, and her late Grandmother (Tema); but the book, to me, feels like a collection of it’s own teachings and tales, that at moments, get fairly raw. There’s an almost contemplative feel to Elaine’s recollections, which felt so much like I was reading a professionally edited journal entry. There is such an introspective moment that has Elaine writing about her mother’s health problems, and then states the difficulty she has had through the years just to put that moment in time onto paper.  This doesn’t break the pace of her storytelling, it only broadens the imaginary scape to include her present self into the reader’s perspective. Or at least, in this case, MY perspective.

What impresses me so much about Elaine is, well, a lot of things I guess! But one thing that is quite inspiring and impressive, is just how vulnerable she is willing to portray herself, while still giving off such an ora of power, strength and poise. I guess exposing that vulnerability is what, in turn, creates that powerful essence. 

And then of course, there is Elaine’s professions of just how valuable her own family is to her.  I mean, it’s quite an experience and journey to read Calling My Spirit Back, to learn about the challenges, the discrimination, the abuse, the racism, and the health problems that Elaine experienced, and then to see her photos and posts online of her current day, you can’t help but feel like you’ve witnessed an incredible life of growth and damn determination.  The great respect Elaine gives to her husband Ryan, and her 4 kids, is quite delightful and heartwarming.

Many, I’m sure, would be quite pleased and satisfied with similar accomplishments that Elaine has reached up to this point. But, I have a feeling this is just one portion of Elaine’s journey. As Telxnitkw so eloquently states: “My story may be rooted in trauma, but it’s not my only story.[2] 

I think Telxnitkw’s story will continue to impress, and evolve.  For me, it’s a pleasure to witness!

-Elaine has participated and founded numerous initiatives to provide mentorships for those in need, one of which, she is a founding member of Alderhill Planning Inc.

Elaine’s Cultivating Safe Spaces Workshop can be found at this link here.

-Discover all of Elaine’s ventures, services, stories and talents on her website 

-Check out Elaine’s social media as well:

Facebook: @ElaineAlec

Twitter: @ElaineAlec

Instagram: @elaine_alec_writer_speaker

YouTube: ElaineAlec

[1,2] Quotes taken from Elaine Alec’s book Calling My Spirit Back, available on the Chapters/Indigo websiteGet your copy now!

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