Finding a home in Cowichan, through the eyes of youth

A young writer and member of Cowichan Tribes explores the meaning of house, home, family and friendship.

This article is from The Discourse’s Cowichan Valley newsletter. Sign up to get it in your inbox.

I’d like you to meet Eva Elliott. Eva, age 13, recently won a writing prize for youth, run by the Cowichan Tribes Sustainable Housing Department. The assignment was to write or draw “what a house and/or community means to me.” Eva wrote a short essay on the meaning of house, home, family and friendship, and she gave me permission to share it with you.

Eva Elliott took top prize for her exploration of the meaning of home.
Jacqueline Ronson/The Discourse

What home means to Eva:

“What’s a house to you?”

What’s a house to me, I wasn’t expecting that question. “ isn’t a house just some walls and a roof?” I laughed. But then I saw she wasn’t joking. I thought about it. “Well..a house to me is a place where I can go to rest and it holds everything I hold dear to me.” She scribbled down what I said. “and would you call your house a home?” Would I call my house a home? I live there and my family is there, but would I go and call it home. “No. I wouldn’t call my house my home. Yes I live there and my family whom I love is there but no, I wouldn’t call my house home.” She nods, “And why is that?”

Why wouldn’t I call my house home, “Well it’s simple really, yes I love everyone and everything in my house, but my home? Well it’s not exactly a place, my home is where I feel safe, yes I already feel safe in my house but my home is where I can completely relax. Home isn’t a place for me, it’s a person.

Why is that I’m not to sure but one thing I do know, I truly love my home. She’s the person who stayed up till two in the morning listening to my story about life. The good and the bad. She’s my rock, the one person who truly holds me down and keeps me from flying away never to be seen again. She stops me from doing a lot of things. But it’s when I hug her I know that I don’t want to loose her. Hugging her feels like home, a place where I can go when I feel alone, when I’m with her I never feel lonely, she makes me feel seen. So when you ask me would I call my house my home, no I wouldn’t because my house and my home are two different things. My home has a heartbeat, my house has walls. To me home is a place where I feel like I’ve been my whole life, sure I may have been in my house most of my life but my home, it’s a place I didn’t find until later but as soon as we hugged I knew that I was home. She’s my home that I can’t live in but in mind, she and I live in each other’s hearts. I don’t know if I’m her home but I know for sure she’s mine. My house isn’t my home but I do love my house. My house is a place, my home is a person. Is that a good enough explanation?”

Love for a friend, and love for books

I met Eva this past weekend to hear more about her perspective on home and life in Cowichan. She tells me that the home she wrote about is her best friend, someone who makes her feel truly heard and safe. 

She also told me about her love of reading and writing. In fact, the prize for the contest was supposed to be a bike, but after winning, Eva asked if she might please instead have some books. Cowichan Tribes offered the full value of the bike in gift certificates to Indigo, and Eva gratefully accepted. 

She likes to read sci-fi, fan fiction and fantasy. Her favourite author is Cassandra Clare, who wrote The Mortal Instruments series. “I’m only on the fifth book right now, but it’s really good,” Eva tells me. 

What are you curious about?

I asked Eva what she’d write about if she were a journalist in the Cowichan Valley. “Probably about bringing awareness to all of the homeless people, and trying to aim to have a rehab centre in town,” she tells me. [end]

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