By Elizabeth MacKinnon
Adela N’jie has made many journeys in her life, both geographic, from The Gambia in West Africa to Dean, Nova Scotia, and metaphysical, from her traditional Catholic upbringing to coming to terms with her own spirituality.
In an interview with the Cooperator at her rural home in Dean, Adela talked about these
journeys, and her recent completion of a book to be published next spring, My Mind,
Protector and Deceiver: A journey from trauma to inner peace.”
A Nova Scotian visiting The Gambia told her about a potential scholarship to study at St.
Anne’s University. Adela won that scholarship, studied French, and started teaching in 1993 at Musquodoboit Rural High School, just 20 minutes downriver from Dean.
"Teaching is one of the best gifts that life has given me. In The Gambia, education was all about memorizing, about knowing facts. Here it’s about understanding. I can know my A’s and B’s, but if I don’t know how to live with myself, to live in a community, what is my A and my B going to give me?”
Over her teaching career of two decades, Adela taught all manner of students from
elementary to university, she worked for the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, and worked as a student services coordinator.
Her life took a dramatic turn in 2013 when a friend suggested she read a book called
Dependent No More. As she read the question, “When have you felt helpless or hopeless,”
she had a sudden memory of being sexually abused that she had suppressed for decades.
Later that same day, a friend asked her to go to church. Sitting with her friend at the back of
a Baptist church in Fall River, she was flooded with all her memories of abuse.
“I am sitting in a public place and I slither in my chair like a snake that just wants to hide, and
I put my head down,” she said. “People think I’m praying. I can see a puddle of tears forming at my feet and I’m like ‘Oh my god!’ what is happening? By the end of the service... I’m like
‘holy shoot I need to talk to someone'.”
After three years of working through her trauma with a therapist, she got a message from her
spirit to move to the country and write a book about her journey of recovery. She retired
from her career as a teacher and found her home on a hillside in Dean with a beautiful view
down a hill and across a wide pasture and woods. The place has served as a sanctuary for
healing and writing. “Being out here, being in nature, you find your way to the quiet
moments, where you just allow your soul to speak. Through that, I was able to write.”
She started with a journal, writing when the urge came over her, spilling her emotions onto
the page. She ended up spending seven years writing, turning her outbursts into a cohesive
journey through trauma, and coming to find her connection with her spirit. She describes her
forthcoming book as a “psycho-spiritual journey, about reflections, research, and my poetry,
and how I found ‘Inner Peace’.”