So today, and every day, take time to educate yourself…. ASK WHY! This is simple. This is reconciliation. Act. Be an ally. We can all do better.
June 21st, is such a beautiful time to be an Indigenous person. We as First Nation, Metis, and Inuit peoples on Turtle Island can finally share who we are; we can celebrate our culture, our ceremonies; we can share everything First Nation, Metis, and Inuit, in every single one of our Treaties; we can pursue our education without being ‘enfranchised’ and we can educate people on the real histories of Turtle Island, which has been previously hidden. This is something our parents and grandparents could not celebrate. We are healing from our traumas every single day. We are learning how to heal, we are re-learning our culture and ceremonies, and today we can be proud to be First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples of Turtle Island. During this beautiful month, take time to reflect on what this opportunity means to you, to learn about the lands and the treaties you work, live and play on. To note; I do not use the term Indigenous with the exception of ‘National Indigenous Peoples Day’. This is intentional due to identifying and honouring the very distinct people within our communities.
We, the original inhabitants of Turtle Island are self-determined nations, experiencing a resurgence of who we are and witnessing how our laws within our communities are bringing meaningful change aligned with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Reconciliation has been a slow process, but it’s a process that is happening right now. Indigenous Resurgence is a process that does not shy away from identifying ongoing colonialism and anti-Indigenous racism. Now is the time - we can learn and grow.
National Indigenous History Month is an opportunity to learn, reflect and connect. Each person in Turtle Island can learn about communities advocating for change; we can all take the online FREE courses that the University of Alberta hosts (Indigenous Canada course); we all can support First Nations, Metis, and Inuit-owned businesses; we can all read and reflect on the TRC’s 94 calls to action and the 10 Principles of Reconciliation. Now is a time when we can educate ourselves on the history of Indigenous peoples. Now is the time to gain some knowledge about the people who were colonized and punished. We can learn about the Indian Act – learning which will break the perpetuation of stereotypes and bias toward Indigenous peoples.
It's important to not just do these things on June 21st, or only in the month of June - this needs to be ongoing continuing education and learning and unlearning. I believe we need to unlearn a lot of these assumptions society holds of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples in this country. Education will allow us to undo and understand – the WHY! We need to understand the history to fully understand the WHY…. You are probably questioning “what ‘why’ are you referring to?” Simply, the Anti-Indigenous racism and perpetuation of the colonial systems have played out for over 200 years. I believe that as a First Nations person; it is important to note that we the original people from Turtle Island are not here for your free resources or encyclopedias; we are not here to do your assignments, be in your focus group, or be your research subject for free. FNMI voices matter on FNMI topics. This is simple. This is reconciliation. Act, be an ally, we can all do better. Take time to learn about First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples and understand that we are not the same, and that all communities have unique histories, ceremonies, and cultures.
So today, and every day, take time to educate yourself…. ASK WHY! In today’s world, we have the power of social media and google at our fingertips, we have eBooks, and online resources; let us educate ourselves on why we even have this day! Today is the start! Start following Indigenous organizations on LinkedIn, and social media accounts. As an Indigenous woman, I am proud of who I am. At one point in my life, I was not overly proud. I felt a lot of shame, but me too – I didn’t understand . . .
I think it is important to note – I am writing to you from Amiskwacîwâskahikan this is the Cree name for Edmonton, Treaty 6 Territory. As a First Nations person, I feel that there is important to name where we are speaking from. It honours the people, our grandparents, our children - the ones who were able to pass down traditional knowledge that we as Indigenous peoples are bringing back. Take today to learn. There are so many community events that we can participate in, there are so many organizations that make education and learning a priority. Make it a priority to learn about First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people. Don’t feel overwhelmed, it will be a process of understanding.