Like most nations, Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples and communities is a long and complex story of trauma, oppression, violence, and cruelty beyond September 30th. It is essential that we continue to take ongoing steps towards reparations and reconciliation. Though the #NationalDayForTruthAndReconciliation has come and gone, the movement and the responsibility have not. The best way we can all take part in making Canada a more fair and just society is to first listen to the peoples who have suffered and continue to suffer.
Their voices are the ones we need to amplify, believe, and use to guide our choices, our behaviour, our language, and our votes. It is our responsibility to listen and educate ourselves from those who are affected. Thank you Destination Indigenous for generously providing us with the information in this post. Here’s how to work to be a better ally, right now, next week, and continually into the future:
Raise awareness of the atrocities committed in residential school systems by purchasing from Indigenous-owned organizations
Movements like #OrangeShirtDay are simple and effective ways to bring attention to the important issues surrounding residential school history and ongoing Indigenous injustices. Please consult the additional links at the bottom of this post to learn more and purchase.
Calm your own voice and let Indigenous leaders speak up (and then listen to them)
It is essential as we strive towards Indigenous allyship to create the space for Indigenous voices. Their experiences, insights, and hopes should guide the ways both the government and our communities approach reconciliation and reparative efforts.
Make an effort to learn how to respectfully acknowledge the land we live on
Take the time to research the history of the land you live on, including the specific Indigenous communities connected to it and any political actions that occurred. Learn the correct pronunciation. Here’s an example of a territorial acknowledgement from our Amira Health folks located here in Victoria, BC: “We acknowledge, with gratitude, the Lekwungen peoples who are the traditional keepers of the land on which we live and work, and all Indigenous peoples in British Columbia.”
Educate yourself on the history of Indigenous peoples’ treatment, including residential school systems (and acknowledge any of your own unresolved, uncomfortable emotions triggered as you learn the truth)
It is not the responsibility of the oppressed to teach those who are silent enablers of the oppressors about what did and did not happen. It is the job of people who are not Indigenous - whose lives are not made harder simply for the land they were born on or their ethnic makeup. Take the time to humble yourself and do your own emotional labour. Take the emotions that come up for you and funnel them into activism and community support. Let go of the defensiveness or insecurity that may rise and vow to create a better world than the one you came into.
Buy from Indigenous-owned businesses and artists
This includes events, music, visual art, and more.
Thank you again to Destination Indigenous for kindly providing this information.
Here’s where to start
Read the 94 Calls to Action
Explore the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports
And more on “Settlers Take Action”
Orange Shirt Day
List of official retailers
Official 2021 design
General information about Victoria Orange Shirt Day
Hotlines for residential school survivors
National Residential School Crisis Line
First Nation and Inuit Hope and Wellness 24/7 Help Line