I’d like to acknowledge that we are on Treaty 6 territory, a traditional meeting ground, gathering place, and travelling route to the Cree, Saulteaux (So-toe), Blackfoot, Métis, Dene (De-nay) and Nakota Sioux (Sue).
I acknowledge the many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit whose footsteps have marked these lands for centuries. I also acknowledge that the signing of the Indian Act was counter to the spirit and intent of the Treaty.
The spirit, intent, and provisions of the Treaties last forever, as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the rivers flow. My role as an individual who benefits from living on treaty territory is to offer a peaceful coexistence.
This means I must seek truth and understanding in order to fulfill my side of this treaty that I benefit from even if I was not a part of the signing.
The truth is painful.
Knowing what happened to the Indigenous peoples is so painful to comprehend. But the pain I experience imagining their experience is so infinitesimally small compared to the pain of anyone who’s family lived through this genocide.
All of us who live on this land are impacted by the acts that happened before. This continues to negatively impact families through generational trauma. When children are raised in unsafe environments and are not shown tenderness or caring, then they have a harder time coping and a harder time connecting in a healthy way in the future.
These children grow up, healing may begin, but there is always pain that’s passed down.
The truth is those who are hurt will lash out, they want to be treated with respect, kindness, and compassion – but in order to accept an out stretched hand, trust needs to be gained.
This, to me, is what Truth and Reconciliation is about.
As someone who has not experienced the pain of the Indigenous peoples I need to recognize their truth.
This goes beyond knowing facts.
We need to listen to understand where they’re coming from. We need to listen to understand not just the perspective of the people who are a generation or more into healing, but the people who are experiencing the ongoing trauma that comes from not being safe in childhood.
It’s impossible for someone to trust us if we don’t understand them or their perspective.
This means acknowledging their pain, acknowledging their meaning, and acknowledging the way it feels for each person to not only be disconnected from their true culture, but to have their culture dismissed as ‘drunks’, ‘uneducated’, ‘violent’, or any other negative or dismissive description.
As a white person who’d family has been in North America for generations, I am disconnected from my culture. But if I were to begin identifying with a part of my culture, there would be a generally positive story to go along with my culture.
First Nations people often don’t have this experience. There is a lot of passed down shame related to who they are as people. I know many friends who did not know their parents were indigenous because they were so ashamed of it. One friend grew up believing they were Japanese because her father was so ashamed of his background.
This is an ongoing pain.
Reconciliation is necessary, but I believe we first must learn the truth. Not just the truth of the past, but the truth of the present, as well as the truth of the future.
I don’t know what it looks like to learn the truth.
Today that is what I reflect on. What my role needs to be as an individual, as a business, and as a community builder.
I would be happy to hear your thoughts and honoured to hold space for your stories.
United Nations Declaration On The Rights Of Indigenous Peoples
Coalition for the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society
National Association of Friendship Circles
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Indigenous arts, culture and heritage
Confederacy Of Treaty 6 Nations