Nimpke Benassii Kew, Two Thunderbird Woman, that’s my Indigenous name. Thunder and Lightening. My life has consistently been about duality.
My mother is Indigenous from a reserve close to Lytton and my dad is from Germany. They separated when I was 5 years old, and my dad raised me and my brother in Prince George like a true German man. He was a logger and went where the money was. He really did try the best he could. He was often absent, and we ended up in foster care for awhile. But he was a good father and one of my best friends growing up. He is such a beautiful man; I remember him taking me to Germany when I was younger. I still have this little black and white photo from the Frankfurt airport.
I really thought it was just my brother, dad, and I growing up. I have a lot of feelings around my dad telling me my mother was dead. I now understand it was because he was trying to protect us. When I was 12, I started to realize that my mom lived up north on a reserve. At 16, I demanded that my dad take us to visit her.
My mom had 14 children, well 13 because one was deceased upon birth. In that community I met all my brothers and sister, aunties and uncles. I went from this tiny family to a huge clan. I was overwhelmed to be on a reserve for the first time and to see another part of my identity. I grew up in a world of us versus them, and I grew up white. I realized that I had been navigating a white world as an Indigenous woman. I had to come to terms with my identity and the lies I told myself to survive. As soon as I found out who my brothers and sisters were, I was calling them every day! I immersed myself in the community. Before my sister passed, she gifted me the chance to learn more about my culture by sending me to an arts school. There I learnt to tan hides, do leather work, sculpt, and weld. I found my creative voice.
I am a director, writer, and producer now. I wrote a script for the National Screen Institute, and they awarded me $20,000 to produce a film. Around that time, my sister was sick with cancer for the third time. When she passed, I fell apart. So, my producer put forth her story called As The Smoke Rises and I directed it. It went through a couple film festivals, and we won 5 awards.
I cope by writing, and it is hard to work on scripts when you are homeless and your feeling like your life is down the toilet. My fiancé and I got evicted right at the start of the pandemic, they gave us less then 2 weeks to get out. But we are moving forward together because I love that man unconditionally. I have been blessed in this lifetime with the places I have been and the people I have met. Although I was raised away from my Indigenous roots, the contrast of how I grew up helped shape my core-self to know who I really am today.