What Does National Aboriginal Day Mean To You?

Every year on June 21st, National Aboriginal Day is celebrated in Canada. Now, I always tend to get completely cliche and exclaim that every day is “Aboriginal Day” for us as Indigenous people across North America because we live our realities, our cultures and celebrate our “Indigenousness” every day.

As for me, this year feels different. I’m in deep reflective mode lately (classic over-thinking Shan) about our growth as Indigenous people. I feel as though all Canadians have been embarking on a journey which includes but is not limited to:

  • The increased awareness of the 1,200+ cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls because of public marches, protests, dances and ceremonies. Because of the outcries from brave family members, the push for a national inquiry and for more support from our police force and the government. Because of the raised awareness that these mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters are being taken far too young and do not belong bound and found in our rivers. They are loved, remembered and respected and didn’t deserve the treatment they faced.

 

  • There is also an increased awareness about the residential school system era including the genocide of countless Indigenous children and the attempt to diminish our Indigenous cultures. So much has happened since the last school closed in 1997; formal apologies, investigations, healing circles and the told truth from various survivors and students who attended. There is also the increased understanding of the inter-generational effects that still effect our families and communities to this day.

 

  • The 60’s scoop has also been acknowledged. The stories of how many Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in Non-Indigenous homes where many were faced with physical, emotional and sexual abuse and many never saw their families again.  There was also a formal apology from the Manitoba federal government to those children and their families.

There is a major shift in our Indigenous and Non-Indigenous communities toward reconciliation right now through these acts. Through raised awareness and education on our painful reality in Canada and the past issues that still haunt our communities to this day. There is action being done such as the implementation of Indigenous classes and the history being taught in our education systems, the invitations of our traditions into schools and events across the nation.

I also feel as though despite everything, our Indigenous communities are stronger than ever. We are reclaiming who we are as Indigenous people. We are relearning our traditions, our teachings, our languages and becoming increasingly proud in our identities. On top of that, all of us across North America and past those border lines are in a major time of healing and shifting. We are starting to discuss and become more aware of what had happened. We are educating and engaging all Canadians and communities across the globe of our rich history and our progressive ways forward. I am also seeing much interest from Non-Indigenous individuals to truly learn and help in any way that they can to work toward reconciliation . We are all making positive baby steps forward but we must keep going. We have much more work to do, much more healing to bring to our communities, our families and ourselves. We need to work on these new found relationships between all of us, we need to encourage our systems and our nations to take this journey with us. We need to re-establish trust and protect our children, our women and our communities.

This time of shifting is exciting and encouraging to witness. To see the healing taking place, to be a part of educating Canadians about our culture and our traditions through performing at different schools, events and gatherings across turtle island and internationally. I just hope this momentum doesn’t stop. I hope we continue to move forward. I hope that one day my children will see a world where our Indigenous women and men are protected and can feel safe in their own homes, that every community has clean running water, that they can continue to swim and witness the beauty of our lakes and oceans without the fear of polluted waters. I hope my children will see a strong nation and feel proud in who they are. I hope they will feel support from their leadership and governments.  I hope for a future where all Canadians are aware and truly equal. That’s all we can rely on is that hope. We must begin with ourselves which will then reach our families, our friends, then our communities and then hopefully across the nation.

Like I said, much work still needs to be done and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this. I hope this wasn’t too long of a rant but this has been on my mind for awhile. What does this particular day known as “National Aboriginal Day” mean to you? What does it mean to be a Canadian? I would love to hear from you! I also asked this question across my social media and here are some of the answers I recieved.

“Happy to those who join us to celebrate our heritage through good faith and a reminder of what our people have over came and we are still here as a sovereign nation no matter what tribe we come from nation to nation we are all related.” 

“Being proud in who we are. Celebrate our heritage.”

“Free Bannock.” 

“Showing pride that the government actually recognized us for one day!”

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Thanks for reading. Feel free to like, share or leave a comment!

What kind of post would you like to see next? Let me know by clicking HERE!

 

Summer Season – Fav Place In Winnipeg, MB!

I was recently challenged by EventBrite to participant in their Hometown Hunt online project and share one of my favourite local places during the summer season. I thought this would be a great opportunity to promote our little hometown city known as Winnipeg, MB and spotlight one of my favourite areas to visit and a place I would recommend anyone visiting in Winnipeg!

The exchange district is without a doubt one of my most favourite places in the city for a variety of reasons. Besides the beautiful architecture, character charm and historical aura . . . it offers support to small local businesses and artists. Just recently it has welcomed “Teri Beads” to the area which is an indigenous owned business that sells traditional indigenous materials and beads and also supports the indigenous community in Winnipeg.

The exchange also hosts a variety of engaging community events. Just recently they have hosted the 2015 JazzFest with a variety of unique musicians and bands at venues around in the district. Another bonus to the JazzFest is their free opening weekend with live local music playing at a stage known as “The Cube” right in the heart of the exchange district known as the old market square. This is always a wonderful opportunity for families and friends to gather and take in the sounds of good music and to enjoy the surrounding food/beverage vendors. Other exciting events that the exchange district plays host to is the Fringe festival which supports our local actors and performers, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and many others that help bring our community together and support the up and coming businesses and artists.

In addition to this, the exchange district offers so much more such as a variety of artsy cafes, lounges, restaurants and bars with great food and great drinks and most offer live music or their own unique twist. The exchange district also offers walking tours of the area to recount the history of the area and to witness some of the popular venues or buildings with specific  meanings or rich character.

These are just some of the reasons why I enjoy the exchange district, particularly during the summer months. This is just a quick sneak peak into some of the things the area offers but there is so much more that could be said. If you are at all interested in learning a little more about what the district offers, feel free to visit their website! Also please feel free to visit the website of eventbrite and consider using it to help host an event in your community! They have a great event management page easy for anyone to use! Click here if you’d like to host an event!

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed it! What’s your favourite place during the summer and why? Let me know in the comments below!

Take Care Everyone!

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24 Hours In Dryden Ontario

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7:00 AM up bright and early, essential Tim Hortons coffee stop and then we were ready for the approximate 4 hour road trip down to the small town of Dryden, Ontario, Canada.

24 hours later my travelling partner (a.k.a my wonderful mother) and I were heading home with great vibes, stories to tell, new connections, people we had met and a collection of significant photographs to reminisce over our wonderful 24 hour getaway.

My mother and I were invited to Dryden to participate in their annual honouring youth powwow at their local high school. It was very lovely to see so many youth, young women and the whole school up and dancing during intertribal’s along with their teachers.

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ShorIMG_7634tly after the regular powwow protocols of the grand entry, flag song, veteran song, prayer, intertribal and honour songs it was time for my mother and I to showcase our dances. The MC handed me the mic and I proceeded to introduce myself and share my teachings of the Indigenous traditional hoop dance. I then began to dance to the sound of the drum, making sure to use up as much space as I could, to practice some new formations and moves I had been eager to try in front of an audience and to try my best to keep the room engaged with my performance. When I was finished I was greeted with a large applause.

Then it was my IMG_7636mother’s turn. They proceeded to drum a song for her as the young women were asked to watch because they would be trying after. My mother looked beautiful as she kept in time with the beat, her golden jingles creating that comforting familiar sound and her feathered fan raised high in the air at every check beat. After, as promised, the young women came up to dance alongside of her. They all had such enthusiasm in their eyes and watched my mother closely again as they tried to mimic her fancy contemporary jingle dress style foot work.

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IMG_7653The powwow had been held annually for over 20 years and the man who had started it all was still teaching and hosting the powwow at the school. His name was Leonard Skye. He was a gentle, loving and incredibly respected man in the community and was honoured while we there for his years of dedication to the school, the youth and his community.

He will be retiring this year so they held a special honour song for him, as students came up giving him hugs and words of thanks. They then proceeded to honour him with awards such as the prestigious one shown in the photograph which was to be hung in the city hall. He is originally from Eagle Lake, 15 minutes west of Dryden and was a residential school survivor. He spoke with so much passion and pride and you could feel the love and respect everyone had for him.

The next day after the powwow, we decided to take a detour before heading home to check out the round dance that Eagle Lake was hosting to honour the missing and murdered Indigenous women. It was a gorgeous warm day with a slight breeze and when we arrived they had hung symbolic red dresses throughout the community to signify those they had lost and to honour them as they are still loved, valued and remembered. After a beautiful round dance of women, men, youth, elders and the whole Eagle Lake community, everyone was given a pouch of tobacco to offer to one of the sacred fires that were set up in each sacred direction. Everyone then proceeded to walk down the road to choose a specific sacred fire to offer their tobacco.

I was so glad that we were able to come and witness such a resilient and strong community and to partake in the round dance and offering of tobacco. After that we had to hit the highway to make it back to city but we made sure to make some time to pull over and create an inukshuk along the way since the highway between Winnipeg and Dryden are full of them and we had always wished to do  that one day and then we had the chance!

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Overall it was a very nice 24 hour trip and I was incredibly appreciative and thankful for our invite to their community to dance. I hope to continue to travel to a variety of communities to showcase my dancing and share the teachings I was given.

Thank you for reading if you’ve made it this far. Please feel free to like, share or comment below. If there is anything I discussed in this post that you would like an extended explanation/post on let me know and I can definitely do that! Also feel free to leave any other suggestions of future posts you may like to see. Please stay tuned and subscribe to this blog to keep updated with my adventures. I hope to start posting one every week or to get on some sort of blogging schedule.

Take care everyone.

FlashBack Friday: Cancun, Mexico!

38314_410435867129_8361007_nBack in 2010, my graduating class and I took a trip down to Cancun, Mexico for a week of adventure. I remember it being my second time travelling alone without family so I was incredibly nervous but also extremely excited for what plans we had ahead. The idea that I was travelling with my fellow peers did put some of my nerves to ease though.

We stayed in the beautiful Gran 37492_410437117129_1068305_nCaribe Real Hotel right on the shores of the blue watered ocean and right in the heart of the touristy side of Cancun. The staff were incredibly friendly and the atmosphere of the place felt very comfortable and safe. There were many amenities to keep us busy, unique restaurants in each direction, private balconies and two large lavish swimming pools to bask in and enjoy the Mexican sunshine.

34940_410442627129_6780428_nThere were many highlights about this trip that I can remember and will probably remember for a very long time. I have shared some of my favourite photographs I snapped while on this graduation trip and I hope you enjoy them. Starting at the hotel, besides the beautiful scenery, lavish pools, wonderful staff and unique restaurants there was also many exciting activities that they offered such as the parasailing which myself and a high school friend went on.

34607_410436857129_3771729_nAfter they drove us out to a boat on a water sea doo, they buckled us into the seat and launched us into the sky.The view I seen from up there will always remain in my mind, it was beautiful, you could see the entire coast and the ocean stretching as far out as you could see, fading into depths of blue and meeting with the skies. If you ever get the chance to parasail, please do it because you won’t regret it one bit and you’ll experience a feeling never felt before.

37492_410433327129_3516729_nAnother exciting unforgettable experience was the excursions we had the chance to go on including the trip to a natural swimming pool, I remember feeling envious of those who were smart enough to bring their bathing suits or brave enough to jump in with their clothes on. It looked like a fun time and cool experience that I wish I did. Another place we were fortunate enough to visit was the famous wonder of the world, the Chichen Itza ruins. I remember it being a hot, muggy day but I was in awe of all of the manmade structures and pyramids that had survived after so many years and the intricate carvings of stone and special placement of stones. We weren’t aloud to climb any because they were trying to preserve the sites as long as they can. It’s amazing to think about how on earth Mayans and their communities had the ability to create this structures so far in the past. It was amazing to witness and walk around these sacred lands.

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On ano37890_410440372129_5972108_nther day we ventured off as a group to the local markets and escaped a little of the touristy side we were used too. It was exciting to go out and witness the local community and see more of Mexico. I remember this one fellow who had his guitar and was singing aloud for the whole bus to hear and his voice was amazing. He was singing songs that we knew including, “All My Loving'” by the Beatles.

34608_410441177129_2651194_nThis young man inspired me and surprised me since we aren’t used to singing on busses in Winnipeg due to it being banned which I think is stupid haha! Another highlight was the day we spent out on the ocean on a boat. It was a gorgeous day with blue skies and high temperatures. We sailed along the waters enjoying music, activities and relaxing in the sunshine.  They even stopped at a shallow point along the coast for a chance to swim in the calm blue waters.

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After that day in the sun we concluded our night at a fun unforgettable foam party just down the street from our hotel. I’ve never experienced that type of party before and I thoroughly enjoyed the night, dancing in waist high foam and foam constantly pouring over everyone.

There is probably much more moments that I’ve left out and many more photographs I’ve left out but I think those were the most memorable parts of my trip. Someday I hope to travel back to a destination such as Cancun and experience that relaxing, vacation like vibe again and to marvel among the gorgeous scenery and wide open ocean. S-Trip made it possible for my graduating class and I to take this trip and book all of the exciting excursions we were able to join. I truly recommend it if you are looking for a student deal for your next trip or class trip.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to sharing more “Flashback Friday’s” of my trips I’ve taken in the past.

Hope you enjoyed!

Do you have any memorable trips? 🙂

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3 6 5 Days Later . . .

1yearblogI can’t believe it’s already been a whole 365 days since the start of this little creative space!

I also can’t believe how much it has grown and how you guys are actually enjoying the content I put out there to the point where I receive such long sweet messages from readers. I only hope that this is the beginning and that it will continue to grow for another good handful of years.

Blogging is something that I really enjoy doing and hope to do for quite some time! I just want to take the time to thank each and every one of you who have either been here since the birth of ani[shan]aabe or even if your just discovering this blog and post right now! I also thank you if you’ve read, commented or shared these little posts. I appreciate all the love and support and I offer a huge cyber group hug to all of you! I only hope you’ll stick with me on my journey’s as  we move forward.

I have a lot of plans for year 2 in this space which include a lot of exciting things. I don’t want to give too much away because I rather not spoil the surprise for future posts but it does include some exciting travel and life changes but please stay tuned, I guarantee you’ll enjoy it very much!

I also get asked a lot for any tips or advice from individuals who have either started up a  new blog or if they are simply thinking about it. Below I will share some of my blogging wisdom :p and things I’ve learned throughout this year!

1) D E B A T I N G ?
If you are thinking about doing it . . .  DO IT! It’s a lot of fun.

2) P A S S I O N 
Make sure to share and write about things that you are passionate about, it shows in how you write. So if your not passionate about it or if it’s boring to you, most likely readers can tell.

3) V I S U A L S
Make sure to make it visually appealing. Readers always love a unique style blog and photographs to compliment your words.

4) C O N N E C T 
 Connect your blog with all of your social media outlets which could include, tumblr, twitter, facebook, etc. and once you publish a post you have the option to share with any or all of these outlets which can increase a great following and more potential readers.

5) W O R K  H A R D
Even if you only have 1 or no followers at all, still create the best content that you can because you never know who will drop by and read your stuff plus those few followers you have will appreciate your hard work.

6) C O M M U N I C A T I O N
Communication is key. If someone comments, its always nice to receive a reply or simply ask those who read what kind of posts they would like to see.

7) P E R F E C T I O N ? 
Your blog doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s taken a long time for me to develop this space into something I personally enjoy. You’ll probably go through multiple themes and changes and that’s totally okay! In fact, who knows what kind of future changes my blog may have,

8) C O N F I D E N C E
Don’t be so hard on yourself! I should take my own advice because I still have those moments where I feel low. Sometimes you see or read other blogs and you start comparing yours to theirs and that’s not cool. Be confident in your space and own it.

9) P R O M O T E 
Don’t be afraid to promote your blog! Share it with your family and friends, on social media or even comment on other similar blogs, its a great way to network with other like minded people and gain a few more readers as well!

10) B E   Y O U 
It’s okay to not do what everyone else is doing! Be unique, Be Weird, Be yourself. 🙂

Again, thank you so much for reading guys! I hope these few tips may help and that you continue to follow along in my adventures and I’m excited to share that with all of you!

In friendship,
– S H A N

● Little Grand Rapids, Manitoba ●

IMG_7549Myself and a crew of dancers from Winnipeg made our way north east to the small community of Little Grand Rapids. We made our way through long winding snowy highways, never ending rough winter roads, drove across the ice roads which was my first time anxiety prone experience and had a couple vehicles end up in the ditch. But alas, we had made our way there all in one piece.

For all of us women, they let us crash in their community lodge which was a very comfortable facility with our own beds and just enough space for everything. We were very grateful and appreciative of their hospitality, kindness and welcoming during our visit. Then it was time to powwow!

The powwow took place in the gym of the local Abbalak Thunderswift Memorial School. There was three drum groups which included the community drum, a visiting drum from Saskatchewan and one from Winnipeg. There was also three craft tables and a good amount of dancers which made for a nice little powwow. It went on for two days and they fed us very good with three hearty meals a day and snacks in between. The entire community was very friendly and always smiling and I believe all of us winnipegger’s felt very welcomed.

I was also asked by the school to come back and do hoop dance/powwow dancing workshops with the youth which I hope will pull through because that would be simply awesome and overall it was very good trip to this friendly little community and to experience and dance our hearts out at their powwow. I now look forward to the powwow trail this summer and to possibly come back to their powwow next year! I have selected some very special snapshots from the weekend and coupled it with its own description underneath, enjoy!

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As we all pulled over on the highway for a driving break, one of the vehicles hit a patch of ice and slid into the deep ditch of snow. The situation ended up with a chain attached to the truck behind and as that truck pulled the entire family of that vehicle pushed. It ended up with it coming out of the ditch but with a smoking hood due to an unattached belt and excessive pressing on the gas. Besides the delay in our commute it all ended well and we got there safely.
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Relaxing in the “Thunderbird” Lodge after our 5-6 hour drive. Photographed here is my grandmother Lucy.
Some of the dancers from Winnipeg and some of the community member of Little Grand Rapids all dancing together during an honor song.
Some of the dancers from Winnipeg and some of the community members of Little Grand Rapids all dancing together during an honor song.
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Abbalak Thunderswift Memorial School gym.

 

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I was handed tobacco and asked to speak to everyone a little about myself as a dancer and to share the background and teachings I was given about the traditional hoop dance.
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Tracy (Left), she was the one who had asked all of us dancers to come on out and support the powwow in Little Grand Rapids and my grandmother (Right) who had also came down for the visit. They were very proud about their hats :p
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Lorne Stevenson, a traditional dancer from Winnipeg who dances at almost every powwow and has performed at the DOTC First Nation’s pavilion during Folklorama.
Gayle Pruden, a very respected and beautiful jingle dress dancer from Winnipeg
Gayle Pruden, a very respected and beautiful jingle dress dancer from Winnipeg
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Lucy, My beautiful grandmother who dances the jingle dress style.
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This young woman inspired me immensely and proved to me that anything is possible if you have a passion for it and set your mind to it. She had hand sewn her entire gorgeous outfit all on her own. No sewing machines or fancy equipment. Something very admirable and to be proud of.
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This little adorable lady won our hearts. Her name was Lavina and she had shown quite an interest in our dancing. When we asked if she would like to come dance with us during intertribal her eyes lit up and she jumped up almost immediately. I showed her some fancy shawl steps and we danced around the gym. One of the nearby craft tables saw this and gifted her with her very own shawl. She was beyond excited and couldn’t stop dancing. She would mirror everything I would do including folding it nicely and putting on the back of her chair during breaks. I told her to take very good care of it and encouraged her to keep dancing and to keep practicing and that we would come back next year. During retreat I also gave her the chance to dance out with one of my hoops. I really hope we made a difference in her day and I hope she keeps it up and realizes how special and beautiful she was to all of us 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indigenous Hoop Dance

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Hey Everyone! First of all, I would like to apologize for my absence from this blog. Classes have started, I’ve already caught the “change of the season” cold, I’ve been super busy and I had an extreme case of writer’s block and couldn’t think of anything to write.

However, I thought I would discuss the Indigenous Hoop Dance for you all since I think many of you don’t fully understand the reasoning for why I do what I do or what it is that I do. Let me give you some insight into my world…

I was introduced to the hoop dance at 13 and have continued to practice and grow with it over 7 years now. The teachings I was given was that it was used for storytelling, guidance/direction and healing. People would come to this individual if they were seeking guidance and/or healing in their lives and once this individual would dance it would show them the answers they were looking for in order to move forward in positive ways. It was also used for storytelling in the way the hoops intertwine and move to create images and dancing designs of many different things such as animals, things of nature, humans, etc. The hoop dance also symbolizes the importance of keeping a healthy balance in life including the 4 important areas of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual and understanding the negatives and positives that come with it. I was also told that the hoop dance could symbolize deeper meanings such as the circle of life it’s self. Most hoop dancers will have the four directions on their hoops which represents that medicine wheel and journey we take in life beginning as a newborn, throughout childhood, young adult, as an elder and then beginning that circle once again.

These are quite similar to the reasons why I dance and what I keep in mind while dancing. I dance for that healing, not only for myself but for my community and all Indigenous people. We have faced the residential school system, oppression, complications within child and family services, suicide rates among our youth and many more experiences that have led to inter-generational effects and hurting within our communities. One of the main things we are still facing is the 1181+ missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. I dance for them, their families and their communities. I also dance for the showcasing of positive cultural pride, to break down those stereotypes and not only show the beauty of our heritage but also educate those who are willing to watch about the history and culture of Indigenous people in Canada.

I also dance for the youth, to stand up and dance along side of them for sustainable futures and the next generation. I want to inspire the younger ones that they can do anything they set their minds too and that just because you are an Indigenous person does not make you anything less even though negative connotations can in some ways unfortunately make them feel that way. Also, the fact that I am a woman and can hoop dance also gives a sense of that empowerment because of the fact that so many are used to seeing primarily males hoop dancing. It’s something new, exciting and different and I believe that this empowerment is also felt by the younger girls that I teach. I was incredibly happy and looked up to many other women I saw hoop dancing growing up such as Lisa Odjig.  On top of everything and what ties all of that together is the entertainment aspect of why I dance. To make myself and others happy through that storytelling concept and some fancy moves hidden in between. I enjoy the process through learning and watching other hoop dancers and I hope to continue to do this for a long time. I will also be travelling to the world championships in Arizona next year so you can anticipate a blog post about my experience there along with some photographs!

Thank you so much for reading, if you have gotten this far! I will be posting a lot more often, so stay tuned!

Adventure Is Just Around The Corner. Literally.

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If you are anything like me, you tend to crave adventure. 

This past month, I had the chance to visit the old jails on Vaughn Street here in our little city and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The old, grotesque and odd stories of past sinister villains, public hangings and other oddities that had happened there filled my mind with awe and wonderment as I tried to picture the things we were being told; some of the stories happened as recently as the 1960’s! The tour continued as we were brought down into the basement into the actual old jail cells where they continued to tell us horrifying stories of past prisoners and other things that had gone down in the spaces we were standing.

My advice to you is that if you don’t have the funds for an extravagant trip, or if you don’t have the time or simply want to fill that void of adventure but would like to stay close to home go out and explore that area of your city or town that you’ve never been before. Book a tour of an old building or a part of your hometown that has a lot of history. You’ll be surprised to learn about things you’ve never known before in your own backyard.

Thanks for reading, Hope you are all doing well!
P.S – Stay tuned for more adventure & photography type posts, summer is here & will be full of travel! 🙂