Journey to Motherhood

My name is Marika Echachis Swan and I come from the Paneetl-aht David Family in Tla-o-qui-aht Territory on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island. From a young age my parents encouraged the artist in me, giving me the tools to express myself through a wide variety of mediums. I spent 10 years in Vancouver as a young adult being nurtured by the Native youth arts scene where I found the courage to share my story. As my pace of life slowed down I knew it was time to move home and dig in my roots. Three years ago I came back to Tla-o-qui-aht, fell in love with my incredible partner and started to find my own little special place in our small community. I am enjoying learning more and more about our people's deep cultural inheritance and am finding my own way to incorporate these teachings into my daily life. 

I started a series of woodcuts exploring my people and their natural and supernatural relationship with whales. We would spiritually prepare our whole lives to become worthy of a whale offering us its life. The whole community needed to work together, everyone had a specific job. Even though we no longer whale, I still see the teachings of this lifestyle alive in our people today.


Becoming Worthy // Marika Swan // woodblock print & acrylic painting, 2012

This piece, "Becoming Worthy", is about my spiritual journey to prepare and earn the gifts I dream for myself and my community. Pook-mis, the character at the bottom, is the drowned whaler. He is warning of what happens when you are not properly prepared and in balance with the world.


Four years ago I made the decison to quit drinking and begin healing my body and spirit. Through the experiences of my life I had learned to avoid tough feelings. The choice to put myself first, my own healing, my own hurt, set me on a different road. I am currently pregnant with my first child and I find myself reflecting on the journey that has brought my partner and I to this place. Very early on in our relationship we went through a heart breaking miscarriage. This poem is about what that experience taught me. 

Dear spirit, dear life, dear light, dear magic, dear friend, dear teacher, dear possibility, dear almost….


When I first heard your voice in my imagination, I saw the possibility of your many outcomes. I saw your many little faces, and your many little fists.


I felt a longing for your creation stronger than any tide I have felt before. You washed over me like the wave that wakes you in the morning. And when I opened my eyes for the first time to the wonder of each of our entrances into this world, I understood a small piece of what brought me through the veils.


There is nothing that can compare to the miracle of a woman pregnant with life or the moment that welcomes that spirit.


You brought my nose right against the mirror. You made me question everything about myself. Everything I thought that I was that totally consumed me was gone, evaporated like morning mist.


You were the north star that came out from the clouds only for a brief moment. Your light pierced the darkness in my selfish nature. And all that was left was love.  The love I needed for you and the love that i had to accept for myself.


I saw where I was going and I changed. I realized the silliness of my solitude. The helplessness of my walls.


I changed for you. I changed.


I did not know that I could share my future with anyone. I did not know how to share at all. You tied a magical thread through the middle of me. Two sides of a basket began to slowly come together again. Their fibers finding their missing arms.  You brought a tension that I could never have imagined.


Now I can see those knots reaching back as far as the first signs of life. I can see how far our basket still has to go. You showed me what I need to be in this world. How my relationships  form the walls of that basket that holds life in its embrace.


When your thread started to loosen and I could feel the life leaking out of me. I had to accept that all the things that I dreamed for you were never going to be.


I went into a place of fear. I crawled up the walls of all my failures searching for a confession that would keep you.


Even though I knew it wasn’t my time, I did not want to let you go. I fought for you. Through the pain and agony of releasing your little body from my womb. I fought until all my hope was gone.


But I realized that I could not use you as an excuse to grow. I had to remember all the stories you had told me late at night. I had to keep all those secrets close to my heart.


Dear spirit, dear life, dear light, dear magic, dear friend, dear teacher, dear possibility, dear almost…


one day we will meet again. In this cycle or the next and I will always remember the way you felt inside my tummy and imagine what you might have felt like against my breast.


There's Hope // Marika Swan // Linoleum print and acrylic painting, 2013

There are many Indigenous prophecies about how the 7th generation after contact will rise up to restore their stewardship of the land. This print is titled "There's Hope" and honours the mother's role in bringing in every generation. Our love and respect for our community's women is central to ensuring the vitality of our future.

Looking back I can see clearly all the steps that brought me to the door of motherhood. The painful mistakes, my weaknesses and my will to get up and keep moving forward. As I open the door to a new relationship with life I look down at my body in wonder as it blooms and I am humbled by the great mystery of it all.

Category: Next Generations

Created: September 15, 2013

Views: 1882

Comments: 2

Likes: 4



  • Linda Haig-Brown
    Linda Haig-Brown Wow, so beautiful... Brought tears to my eyes, beauty words and images... Sechanalyagh, Thank you
    November 5, 2013
  • Helen Haig-Brown
    Helen Haig-Brown Beautiful display of how you faced your own tough feelings. I totally relate to the difficulty in facing my own emotions and feelings with how I was taught. And I do believe there is much power and healing in becoming unafraid of our not so glorious fee...  more
    November 5, 2013 - 1 likes this