Jonathan Meikle is an Afghanistan war veteran from Norway House Cree Nation, approximately 800 km north of Winnipeg. There, he experienced what it was like to live in a community with the social difficulties that reserves in Canada are faced with, mainly as a result of inter-generational trauma acquired through colonization, the residential school system and the sixties scoop
Jonathan lives Winnipeg where he’s involved in grassroots initiatives including Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol. He’s active in the addictions community, learning about traditional teachings, seeking knowledge in community economic development and advocating for community-based solutions. To stay active, Jonathan is a competitive boxer out of the Stingers Boxing Academy.
What is your idea worth spreading?
Growing up, I always wanted to ask why things were the way they were. I wanted to dissect things; take them apart. This not only held true when it came to the things in my external world around me, but internally as well. Why do I think the way I think? Feel the way I feel? Behave the way I behave? Why do I do some of the things that I do?
With my investigative personality I identify as somewhat of a self-proclaimed philosopher. Once I’ve learned to strongly embrace empathy and think a little more outside of the confines of my own world I started to view others with the same investigative mindset. Why do people do some of the things they do? Behave the way they behave? It is this mindset that I believe would be the key shift in perspective needed to look at the underlying issues that cause negative behaviour.
Through the instillation of my idea into the minds of the right people, we could proceed with more solution-based, positive result-producing approaches in our society as a whole.
What’s your connection to Winnipeg, or Manitoba?
I grew up in the northern reserve of Norway House Cree Nation on Treaty Five land. After six years in the military, at the age of twenty-three, I decided that I wanted to move back to Manitoba to be closer to home. I didn’t want to move back to my home reserve because of lack of employment opportunities, so I decided I would move to Winnipeg. I met a girl, we fell in love, things happened quicker than intended and the next thing I know; we have a baby boy on the way. Our relationship was put to the test and we endured many struggles. Ultimately we ended up separating.
I grew a strong dislike for the city life after being away from my home reserve for eight years. I felt alone and I didn’t seem to find the sense of community I got from back home. I decided to move back up North for a while. I finished my high school via a mature student program, I, however, encountered a series of unfortunate events. My moments of despair led me to re-evaluate myself very deeply. Through this self analysis, I made some very strong shifts in many of my perspective. Reinvented, I moved back to Winnipeg and started to surround myself with positive people. With those shifts in perspective; where I saw the bad, I started to see the good; where I saw the dark, I would now see the light. I can now say with confidence, I love my new home of Winnipeg, Manitoba and I want to be a part of it growing where it needs to grow.
What’s one of your favourite quotes?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”
Who’s going to play you in the movie of your life?
Jon Berthal. The first time I was told I looked like him, I wasn’t exactly overly enthusiastic as I was a hardcore walking dead fan. I remember replying “you mean the douchebag that gets killed off in season two?” (sorry; spoiler alert). Now that he has picked up some better, protagonist roles, such as the Punisher! I have learned to embrace sharing the same rugged good looks with him. If, for some reason, you are reading this Jon, I give you permission to play me in this very hypothetical movie about me.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
“Perfect happiness” is a bit oxymoronic. Let me explain myself:
First off, the word “perfect” I’m not too big a fan of. When we use that word it is more than likely used as an exaggeration. True perfection almost sounds absurd. I personally love imperfections, they are what make us human and distinctive amongst each other. Secondly, do we really feel true happiness without a broad spectrum of emotions to relate it to? What I seek is fulfilment. To achieve a fulfilling lifestyle, we must become proficient in our coping skills.
This will allow us to be willing to take necessary risk, because some of the most beautiful things in life are acquired through risk.
What TED Talk do you think everyone should see?
“The Power of Forgiveness”, by Sammy Rangel. His talk was a beautiful gift to his viewers, including myself. I often talk about how we all, quite frequently, come across two choices in life; do we choose forgiveness or do we choose resentment. Those are two things that don’t necessarily have to have an external impact, but they will most definitely affect you internally.
Being able to choose and find forgiveness is important to our personal well-being. Through his heart riveting story, Sammy Rangel provides an idea of how to achieve forgiveness.