It’s Time to Listen -
Interview with Chantal Stormsong Chagnon,
Cree Ojibwe Métis leader in Calgary, Alberta
by Kimberly Neuman
As we approach September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, let us acknowledge the effects of the residential school system and the lives that were impacted as a result. What can be done to increase awareness and how can allies position themselves to move towards reconciliation?
Learn about Canada’s colonial history by listening to the stories of Elders, knowledge keepers, and residential school survivors about what happened in residential schools. Are you an ally with a supportive orientation towards reconciliation? This podcast with Dr. Adam Murry, assistant professor of Indigenous psychology at the University of Calgary, speaks on what it means to be an ally:
Consider how we are all connected, where we sit in the shared circle and see ourselves in a traditional, cyclical way of being. Colonialization removed the deep connection that Indigenous peoples had to the earth but are now working to restore.
Also consider the impact of your actions on future generations. Are you leaving a better world for your children by honouring Mother Earth? Learn about the deep-seated history of Indigenous peoples and recognize our privilege of living on this land. “Clearing the Plains” - by James Daschuk is a good, albeit unsettling, start.
Take a moment to consider your own roots. What brought you here and how many generations has your family been on this land? What had to happen to the people and to the land in order for your family to be here (who was here before the generations before you and who was displaced so that they could have that land?). Are your actions honouring your ancestors and the hardships they went through so that you could be where you are today?
We are all in this together. The healing that needs to occur in Indigenous communities and on Mother Earth can happen if we help each other, learn from each other, build each other up, and empower one another. We all need to heal from within, that is what reconciliation is about. Understand the connection between the health of the environment and the well-being of Indigenous people and how that may influence their ability to heal. How did we get to our current situation (for example, lack of clean drinking water in a country that is water-rich)? Sustainability is an Indigenous way of knowing, therefore acting responsibly towards Mother Earth is supporting the healing of Indigenous peoples.
Seeking further knowledge?
Attend workshops, courses, and events to learn about Indigenous culture and how you can be a part of the healing journey.
-free online course: https://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada
-wear an orange shirt on September 30: https://www.orangeshirtday.org
-online events during Truth and Reconciliation week (September 27-October 1)
-churches with Truth and Reconciliation commissions help to build relationships with Indigenous communities. The Calgary Unitarians offer services related to reconciliation and social justice. The United Church offers Indigenous events, including bringing in Elders and offering sharing circles open to the public.
-school curriculums that include Indigenous initiatives such as the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy Plan and programs such as the Traditional Knowledge Keepers in Residence program that offer teachings from Elders.
-public pow wows or online: https://www.powwows.com/main/watch-pow-wows-live-powwows-com/
-suggested authors: Thomas King, Richard Wagamese, Robin Wall Kimmerer
-understand the Indian Act and how it is still being used across the world to abolish Indigenous rights (for example, Bill PL 490 in Brazil): https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/i-5/
-how can your organization be part of the Calls to Action: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/indigenous-people/aboriginal-peoples-documents/calls_to_action_english2.pdf
-how to move from being an Ally to an Activist: https://www.womeninleadership.ca/post/moving-allyship-to-activism-conversation-with-jessica-vandenberghe
Much appreciation is extended to Chantal Stormsong Chagnon of Cree8 for her contributions to this blog and to her community.