Chapter 1 / Sharing Stories
June is National Indigenous History Month. A month dedicated to honouring the deep history + heritage of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
This month, our team has been taking a course on Indigenous History in Canada through the University of Alberta, and we wanted to bring back our Viewpoints initiative to share some of the information and resources that we have found helpful in our own learning journeys.
With the devastating discovery of children's bodies found at multiple Canadian Residential schools, we are reminded of our country's shameful history – unthinkable actions that not only occurred in the past, but continue to persist today.
As we continue to listen, learn, and unlearn, may we all recognize our responsibilities for reconciliation and healing with our Indigenous communities, and the steps we can each take to be better and do better together.
Follow along below as we share some of our learnings and a non-exhaustive list of some Indigenous-led resources and Indigenous Creators, brands and community to learn from and support.
We acknowledge that we are located on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish Coast Salish Peoples.
There is so much power in language and how we choose to use it is up to us.
Holding conversations with others is a big part of learning and discerning truth, however, despite any well intent, our language may be harmful.
We learned the basics of correct terminology and the damaging impacts of neutral (or incorrect) language that are often embedded in our words as a result of colonization.
Take a read below fomr some of the terminology that is important for us to understand, taking accoutnability for our language and the power behind the words we use.
• The Canadian Constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal Peoples: First Nations, Métis, and Inuit.
• Sometimes, the names that we call Indigenous groups are not the same names that Indigenous Peoples use to refer to themselves. We respect the names that they refer to themselves as.
• In Canada, Colonization can describe the ongoing process of people (colonizers) migrating and seizing Indigenous land while also exploiting Indigenous Peoples and their resources for settlement. This process also includes cultural assimilation and the political, economic, social, and spiritual modifications of Indigenous Peoples.
The collective experience is made up of thousands of individual experiences. The way we each understand the world is complex and varies greatly, and this remains true for the Indigenous community whose worldviews can be broadly categorized into four nations: Inuit, Nehiyawak, Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk), and Tlingit.
Each worldview is similarly rooted in the philosophy of interconnectedness + belonging with a specific emphasis on their relationship with the land. Caring about the wellbeing of others is vital and unity is achieved through collaboration.
Despite similarities, they distinctly vary in how they rationalize thoughts, actions, and their place in the world.
For them, the key principle is to live in balance and maintain peaceful internal and external relations – a sentiment that we resonate with deeply.
Some commom themes that guide their worldviews are:
• A respect for all living things
• Governing principles of peace and harmony – accountability for actions and words
• Caring about the wellbeing of others
• Unity through collaboration – we are all related and each group is accountable for their actions
• A distinct relationship with the land that extends to environmental stewardship – land is only borrowed from future generations. Land is the heart of creation – an environment that provides but is also to be cared for for future generations.
“My river elders have taught me that we need to be relational — not sustainable. Sustainability is a green-washed mirage to preserve industrialization — yes, even “sustainable growth”. This narrative upholds human exceptionalism. We do not need to sustain human supremacy, a project of settler colonialism.”
Did you know...
• 73% of Indigenous folks and communities in Canada do not have access to clean and safe water.
• 95% of BC, is on unceded territory. Unceded means that Indigenous Peoples never ceded or signed away their land to the Crown or to Canada. It means that the land was taken away from them without compensation.
• More than 150,000 children were forced to attend residential schools. There are an estimated 80,000 former students still living today. The last residential school only closed in 1996 in Saskatchewan.
Opening your circles, your heart, and your mind offers awareness and perspectives that can change how we give to and receive the world.
We've compiled a non-exhaustive list of Indigenous-led resources and organizations, and Indigenous creators, brands, and community to support above – who are graciously giving space and knowledge so that we can learn, evolve, and continue to be better.
Other learning resources:
• Indigenous Canada course with the University of Alberta through Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada
• OCI Solutions: oci.solutions
• Indian Residential School Survivor Society: irsss.ca
• Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: itstartswithus-mmiw.com
• Land Acknowledgement: land.codeforanchorage.org
• Native-Land Mapping: native-land.ca
• Read: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
• Watch: Gather: The Film
• Watch: Joe Buffalo: Documentary
Other ways that you can help:
• Read, support, and push the government to move forward all 94 Calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC); a plan that raises awareness and addresses the historical and ongoing impact of residential schools on survivors and their families. address the ongoing impact of residential schools on survivors and their families. Email IRRInfo@gov.bc.ca for updates and to share your voice.
• Support the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) -- an in-depth and universal framework of standards that push for the wellbeing of Indigenous peoples, their land, and resources.
• Acknowledge the land you are on, whether it’s where you call ‘home’ or if you’re visiting somewhere new. Text your postal code to 1.855.917.5263 to find out the proper land acknowledgement for the Indigenous land you are on.
• Email Minister LeBlanc to demand for Indigenous Languages to be put on Elections Canada Ballots: act.newmode.net/action/mumilaaq-qaqqaq-mp-nunavut/put-indigenous-languages-elections-canada-ballots
• Donate to an Indigenous cause, support and amplify Indigenous artists and creators, and continue to commit to learning. By educating ourselves, we further our own understandings and also help alleviate the emotional labour of Indigenous Peoples.
• For our Indigenous communities in need of support right now, these resources are available to you: Call IRSS 1(800) 721-0066 or the 24 hour crisis line at 1 (866) 925-4419
Learning and growth is a long, forever journey. But, the tools and a strong community let us do it together.
"I beg that...in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity." -- Sacheen Littlefeather