My name Ayelen means the moment two people share a smile in Mapundung, the language of the Mapuche. It's a verb, an encounter between I and another. With a grit for meaningful labour and a gift for articulating the power of community, weaving relations is my work in the world. Dancer might be the noun that best describes me, as dance is my prima materia, my meditation and my altar. There are many other nouns I have used to describe who I am and what I do: artist, activist, mother, lover, sister, wife, director, producer, founder, educator, filmmaker, bartender, latina, Chilean-Canadian, nature loving feminist...and...yet, nouns are irrelevant static frames and tell little of the rich experiences and connections I have known.
So instead, let me tell you a story. My father fought for the socialist movement in Chile that won in 1973, until the CIA backed military coup murdered the populalry elected president, Salvador Allende. My fearless mother was taken prisoner and millions were tortured, killed and exiled. The first neo-liberal corporate take-over of an entire country ensued, while my father plotted my mother's escape. Reunited at last, they sought political asylum in Canada and I was born one year later.
Jump forward 45 years and I am blessed to take my father on a walk through the wild forest I now call home and to share with him the visions of community we are co-creating here with River Rising and the Farming Futures Co-op. We are untangling ourselves from the fear of failure while conjuring new models of cooperation, community, food sovereignty and new ways of being in meaningful connection and belonging. It calls up grief and regret in my father for his peoples failed revolution, the violent capitalist take over of their cooperative models of governance and the annihilation of their liberation movements. It seems, I am dreaming a fractal of my parents' dream but with their trauma memory still boiling in my blood. I arrived to Turtle Island from the land of the Condor and the more I know the stories of these lands my heart aches with the pain that Indigenous peoples have suffered. As for so many, my own ancestors are a complicated lineage of colonized and colonizer, our blood lines a confusion of identities that trip up even the so-called "woke" among us.
And so, as an accomplice to the liberation of all people I am committed to unlearning the colonial mindsets that drive extractive capitalism and to compost the trauma of our ancestors through alliances with the land and the plants. I am a changemaker and relation weaver and art is my trusted toolkit. My chosen battles are in the ecologies of our hearts and imaginations so we may release them from the shackles of scarcity and attune instead our attention towards abundance.