Indigenous Arts & Stories - Four Years

Four Years

2017 - Writing Winner

The biggest struggle is the feeling is going from having people you’ve known all your life, to feeling like you have no one. “Four more years”, this is the constant reminder that’s burned in your mind.

Read Kylie Waswa's Four Years

Kylie Waswa

Belleville , ON
Fort Hope, Ontario
Age 16

Author's Statement

I've always loved school, I loved learning to write but as I got older my love for school got lower and lower. When I was in grade 9, I had to leave my community to go to school and to say the least it was a very difficult transition. So I decided to write about my experience leaving home and coming to school somewhere where I didn't know anyone. The title "Four Years" was something that I used to say all the time just to get me through the day. At first I thought it was a positive thing, but later on I realized that by saying this I was missing out on the good aspects in life by putting a time limit on it. That slowly turned into a time limit of how long I can be miserable for.
Back in my community the percentage of people graduating high school is very low, so I've made it my mission to spread the word of encouragement and show that seeing the world isn't as bad.
The biggest message in this short story is "Keep walking in your moccasins", meaning to remember your culture and to be proud of who you are. This statement can be used for any situation, I remember feeling ashamed because I clearly didn't have the same skin color as the rest of my school. Now I am able to embrace the color of my skin, my culture, and my personal beliefs.
I chose to right a real life situation because I feel that it is something that people can relate too, and that getting my message out there to anyone else who was feeling the same feelings I felt.
This is an issue, where children have to leave home for a better education. It affects a person emotionally, physically and spiritually.


Four Years

Waking up in a house that’s not the one you’ve spent your years growing up in, and sharing your accomplishments with your family through a screen. All those nights spent lonely, sad, and crying. “Four years” you constantly have to remind yourself, to get yourself through the day. Reminding yourself that you’re doing this to bring hope to your community, to show that it’s never too late to finish school and that even through the difficult times, that it is possible to accomplish anything you got your heart and mind set on. Even though you have these negative thoughts in your mind harassing you, that school isn’t necessary, that you’ll look the biggest chump, and every indigenous kid that’s attending school outside of their community’s biggest fear that “what if it’s all for nothing?”. Even if these thoughts take over your mind you push through and remind yourself “4 years”, because that’s all it takes. Four years to have the best and worst times of your life, the time where you grow and realize that there’s more to the world. You realize that there are places to go and sights to see, but you still feel that worry. That worry that one day you might end up dropping out, or you’ll make one wrong move and kiss your dreams goodbye. But you push yourself to make the best decisions you can for yourself, no matter how temping the wrong could be, because four years isn’t that long and you can push through right? You can and you will push through, because “they’re just feelings” as someone once said “they’ll pass”. So you wait, you wait and wait until one night you can’t wait any longer. You lay there on your floor silent, so silent you can hear a pin drop. Tears start to roll down your face as you wait in agonizing pain, people told you that it’s just homesickness and that you’ll be fine. The biggest struggle is the feeling is going from having people you’ve known all your life, to feeling like you have no one. “Four more years”, this is the constant reminder that’s burned in your mind.


Another bad day comes along, you feel stressed, fed up, and on the verge of giving up completely. Through all these negative thoughts you’re starting to remember something, something that you reminded yourself a while ago, “four years” that was it! Now it’s three years until you graduate, but looking at how life is going now, you feel that it’s far too difficult to last three more years. Your phone calls with your family consist of you telling them you’re alright, because you’re more than a thousand kilometers away and you don’t want them to worry. So you say you’re okay and that’s that, keep going forward because what other option do you have? You can’t go back because you’ve made it known to everyone on how well you’re going to do and how you’re not going to be lonely. You said that you weren’t afraid. “An adventure” as you once described turned into to a nightmare ever so quickly, your days and nights felt lonelier than ever. A few good days here and there, but the bad outweighs the good. Feelings of sadness creep into your body, leaving a huge empty spot, but you’re determined to not give up because you’ve worked so hard to get this far. The dull, gnawing, pain is building up, its build up so high that you can’t see moving past it. You look for ways around it, you tried climbing, and even digging yourself out of it. Nothing is working, the feeling of defeat creeps into your system and lingers. Feeling like all that you’ve worked for is slowing going out of your reach, but this is expected right? Loneliness is common for anyone who leaves home, everyone experiences loneliness. But that thought just makes you feel even more alone. “NOTHING IS WORKING” you say with defeat. Positive thinking, smiling more, trying to socialize more, and yet it still feels like not a thing is making a difference. You still feel defeated, “Just three more years, three more years” the countdown continues during your time of defeat. How is this fair?

Though it seems like you’ve been numbed and every arrow that comes your way, you don’t even flinch you just take the hit and keep on going. You look around at the other kids and think “why don’t they have to leave their entire family behind?” You envy that they could go home to their own family every evening. Jealousy and anger start to fire up inside you. One night you call home crying, your Kokum doesn’t say anything but listen to you cry. Finally once you calm down you hear her say these words “I know it’s hard, but pick yourself up along with your school books and keep walking in your moccasins.” She continued “It’s not just 4 years”. It felt like a blink of an eye and you’re down to two more years, halfway there. You realize that you’ve spent the other half miserable and in self-pity, so that’s when the change happens. You remember that during this whole time of hardships you completely forgot about your culture. The Seven Grandfather teachings come to mind when you think of your Kokum saying “Keep walking in your moccasins”. You think of how love is represented by the eagle, you realize you were missing the bigger picture, the picture where you have you walking across the stage receiving your diploma. “Keep walking in your moccasins” is your new mind set, it’s far more encouraging and it has a whole lot of meaning you think to yourself. You remember what your original plans were, to spark up a new sense of hope in your community. You found your new sense of hope now you have to share it with other people who need it far more than you do. You realize that you’re going to do that not by counting down the years but by being so positive that it rubs off on everyone you talk too, by smiling so big that your cheeks hurt, and most importantly being true to yourself, remembering the Seven Grandfather teachings, and the Creator. You remember the importance of your education, and that it’s never too late to finish what you started. You remember that life is the most precious gift there is, and what a waste it’d be if you spend it miserable. But share your joy and hope with others so that they know that it’s possible. That anything is possible.