Feel It To Heal It is the name of her new album and she’s living it.
Auroara Leigh, a survivor of terrible abuse experienced at a very young age, is sending a message loud and clear for all to hear that if she can heal she knows everyone else can who has experienced similar trauma and she’s willing to put her voice to it.
“I felt the best way to get my message out there was to put it to music,” Leigh, a Metis singer/songwriter who lives in Fort St. James, said.
“I want to use the songs to uplift a platform for more community to be built and heard and talk about the topics that I bring up and I really dropped into my own story with these songs in order to create comfort and relatability.”
And she’s already got people coming forward to share their experiences with her.
“And that’s really what I’m hoping for with the album,” Leigh said. “I’m hoping to give voice to the voiceless.”
Leigh changed her name because her former first name, Kari, was just to heavy a burden to lug around any longer. Auroara means light and that's what she wants to be, she explained.
She grew up all over the north, including Prince George, was profiled for human trafficking in another northern town (another topic she addresses in her album), went to Kelowna to attend the University of BC Okanagan as a young adult with her new baby where she earned a bachelor's degree in medical and cultural anthropology followed by a masters degree in education: adult learning and global change at UBC.
During the move down south, she wanted to experience a different way of life, went into deep therapy so her traumatized brain could heal and learned a peaceful existence was possible for her and her daughter.
Years later when she was ready she returned to Fort St. James, where she lives now, to help heal the people of the community.
Leigh was the stopping the violence counsellor for women and worked one on one with people. Her counseling focuses on intergenerational trauma and she would also like to expand on that by offering group workshops incorporating music as a healing tool.
“When I knew I wanted to share my story I thought I would be writing a book but this way is much more beautiful, revealing, expressive, sacred - like the whole parts of the process, including the people who have helped me - it’s allowed me to express myself but also to heal,” Leigh said.
“It took me a year to compose the songs and then prepare myself even just to record them - to tell the story - because when a person is super young an abuser is going to make sure you don’t tell, right? So I had really old hard wiring not to tell and it’s hard to get past that. And to know that you matter. That is so important for everyone to hear. You matter.”
As Leigh went through healing for brain/body trauma, she learned a lot about how she was programmed by her abuser and the biggest underlying factor when it came to releasing the trauma was that she truly believed she didn’t matter, so no one would care or believe her or help her, she explained.
“Growing up I still had these underlying messages echoing in my head that I don’t matter,” Leigh explained. “So in one of the songs, Laid Me Down, there’s a really motivational part and it says ‘you matter’.”
And she knows others carry that same belief within themselves and that’s why she put out her album to get the message across that everyone matters and healing is possible, she added.
“It is uplifting, but it can’t all be about positivity - we also need to lean into the story of what is true,” Leigh said. “As First Nations people many experience trauma and it wires the brain a certain way and we all need to heal from that. We all matter. And if this is the first time you’re hearing it, believe it - ‘you matter’.”