Tra­di­tions are the an­swer

Moose Jaw Times Herald - - OPINION - Lori Deets

Idon’t have a lot of time left and I feel like we have so much left to talk about. As I’ve said in al­most every ar­ti­cle, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is a process. It’s not go­ing to hap­pen overnight, and like many life changes, they take time and some­times many fail­ures. They come with their fair share of strug­gles.

The process of change is some­times slow. Progress at times is made in leaps and bounds, other times change is non ex­is­tent and hard to see. I ex­pect rec­on­cil­i­a­tion will be about the same; it will be slow go­ing at first, but one day we will be able to look back and see all of our progress. At least that is my hope.

So with lit­tle to no time left, how do I de­cide what is most im­por­tant for us to talk about? There are so many is­sues to ad­dress and they ap­pear every day.

I have al­ways taken a per­sonal ap­proach to these is­sues and dis­cussing how these is­sues af­fect my life. I am al­ways quite sur­prised at how deeply col­o­niza­tion has af­fected me and my fam­ily.

On any given day in the me­dia you can find a story about is­sues that many In­dige­nous peo­ple face daily is­sues from health care to ed­u­ca­tion and men­tal health and home­less­ness. As an In­dige­nous per­son, it’s hard to read about all these. The neg­a­tive stereo­types and racism In­dige­nous peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence online and in per­son ev­ery­day are dis­re­spect­ful and sim­ply un­true.

Whether we are one of the peo­ple di­rectly af­fected by these is­sues or some­one just stand­ing up to speak the truth, In­dige­nous peo­ple across the coun­try are met with harsh crit­i­cism and ac­cu­sa­tions.

We are of­ten all lumped into the same cat­e­gories, told we are lazy and that all we want is hand­outs. Why can’t we just get over it and move on? The ex­cuses go on and on.

I re­cently watched a de­bate online on The Agenda, a cur­rent af­fairs pro­gram. The topic: “The govern­ment of Canada is es­sen­tially keep­ing In­dige­nous peo­ple in cri­sis, in or­der to get un­fet­tered ac­cess to the riches of their lands.”

Now that’s a loaded state­ment. I en­cour­age you to think about this state­ment. How does it make you feel? What was the first ini­tial thought in your head? Was it dis­be­lief or agree­ment? Does this state­ment make you an­gry, guilty? A com­bi­na­tion of both? Agree or not, we can’t deny the state of cri­sis In­dige­nous peo­ple are in. This isn’t new; this has been hap­pen­ing for a long time, well over 150 years.

So of course the ques­tion is, what can we do about it? How do we change things? How we look at the an­swers to solv­ing these is­sues is one of the big­gest di­vides be­tween In­dige­nous and non-In­dige­nous peo­ple. In­dige­nous peo­ple be­lieve our cul­ture and our tra­di­tions are our an­swer. Some non-In­dige­nous peo­ple like to con­vince us this is liv­ing in our past.

That we must as­sim­i­late to western ways in or­der to solve the­ses is­sues, that by not com­pletely as­sim­i­lat­ing to western ways we are keep­ing our­selves stuck. Do I be­lieve cer­e­mony will cure me from cancer? No, but I do be­lieve tra­di­tional ways com­bined with mod­ern health care, with em­pha­sis on cer­e­mony, is the di­rec­tion we need to be headed.

I am part of a tra­di­tional women’s heal­ing group. We have been brought to­gether by fund­ing to look at the ef­fects of tra­di­tions and cul­ture on women and fam­i­lies ex­posed to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

Our fo­cus is women’s tra­di­tional teach­ings and rarely do we need to talk about the prob­lem; our fo­cus is the an­swer to the prob­lem.

How do you, the av­er­age cit­i­zen, be­come more in­volved with rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and be­come part of the so­lu­tion? I have de­cided to com­pile a sort of a rec­on­cil­i­a­tion check­list. Much of this will be things I’ve men­tioned, but it feels like a great time to re­cap.

Please don’t con­trib­ute to stereo­typ­i­cal views of In­dige­nous peo­ple, es­pe­cially online. Peo­ple can’t all be lumped to­gether, and of course the in­for­ma­tion given is gen­er­ally un­true, or just part of a story. Un­cov­er­ing In­dige­nous myths is a mis­sion I en­cour­age every one of you to start. Chelsea Vowel does an ex­cel­lent job dis­sect­ing these myths in her book In­dige­nous Writes.

Spread the truth and if you don’t know the truth, don’t guess or make up an an­swer; ask an In­dige­nous per­son who has the cor­rect knowl­edge and teach­ings. Be­cause of col­o­niza­tion, we can­not as­sume all In­dige­nous peo­ple fall into that cat­e­gory. Also - so im­por­tant here - when you have asked the ques­tions, don’t for­get to lis­ten.

Lis­ten­ing is not as easy as we think. When it comes to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, this is one area non-In­dige­nous peo­ple can prac­tise a lot more lis­ten­ing and a lot less talk.

Look up what your In­dige­nous com­mu­nity is do­ing take part in any cer­e­monies or demon­stra­tions com­ing up. The Wakamow Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion Is hold­ing their fourth an­nual round dance on Feb. 4, 2018. De­tails will be posted soon all over the city. Com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion is wel­come and en­cour­aged.

Un­der­stand what your Treaty rights are. Own your priv­i­lege as a Canadian and know what that was built on. We are all treaty peo­ple and that in­cludes you. We are all part of Treaty 4 ter­ri­tory and the sign­ing of Treaty 4 is cel­e­brated every year in Fort Qu’ap­pelle, SK. Go check it out some­time!

Re­mem­ber it’s ok to be un­com­fort­able. Be­ing un­com­fort­able is a very nec­es­sary step to­wards rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. If you have not dis­cov­ered some un­com­fort­able feel­ings, there is a good chance you haven’t looked deep enough yet. The facts of our his­tory will only get you so far in our jour­ney to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, tra­di­tions, cul­ture are the so­lu­tion. Get in­volved in the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion ef­forts in your com­mu­nity!

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