BRINGING US ALL TOGETHER…ONE STROKE AT A TIME
RECONCILIATION COULD BE THE FOUNDATION OF CLIMATE SOLUTIONS
In Canada, we understand that Reconciliation is a process to restore lands, economic self-sufficiency and political jurisdiction to Indigenous Peoples and develop respectful and just relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Canada.
On an individual level, is it not about respecting each other as citizens of a shared planet?
Reconciliation is an ongoing process of healing, that starts with education of non-Indigenous people, many of whom lack an understanding of and a window into the significant and fundamental injustice of colonialism upon the Indigenous Peoples...the Truth.
It is heartbreaking to detail the destruction of their ways of life…a pandemic of unfamiliar diseases including smallpox…the theft of their land…the attempts at cultural genocide…forced onto reservations…starved…to have their children stolen from them, to be placed in residential schools where they endured re-education to take away their understandings of language and culture, with many of these children experiencing physical and sexual abuse, even death…then to watch the tragedy of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) unfold…toxic chemicals used in mining and forestry contributing to unsafe drinking water…some escaping into a spiral of alcohol and drug abuse…punishing themselves with shame and guilt…even suicide. The grief and cycle of abuse was passed on intergenerationally. Marginalized by those who were afforded the advantage of colonization, they have suffered this abuse of power, exploitation and the indignity of systemic racism.
Treaties were signed, but in many cases they have not been respected by the settler society, when the Indigenous land was in the way. The autonomy of unceeded land in some situations is not respected with resource extraction or pipelines endangering the sanctity of the watersheds and the land.
These actions are corrosive to the relationship between those on both sides of the colonial divide.
Yet, after all that has been perpetrated upon them…after all they have suffered, most Indigenous Peoples display extraordinary resilience and humanity. As many say, 'our existence is our resistance'.
Those non-Indigenus people who are living in a bubble of white privilege, must see beyond their blindness…must evolve and change their perspective…their insights…their understandings…their minds.
Those on the settler side of the colonial divide, need to take a critical look at themselves and ask whether they have lost their allegiance to the dreams of fairness, openness, respect and equality for all.
This change is achieved by a combination of inspiration, education, collective action and transitional leadership. It is ultimately a cultural change…and that change must come from the heart. We can all be spectators, or drivers of that change.
Is Reconciliation and the awakening of the members of the settler society to the colonial realities a pre-requisite to effectively seeking Indigenous climate solutions and to achieving Reconciliation with Mother Nature herself?
The road to Reconciliation has been fraught with frustration, mistrust, confusion, anger, fear and despair. At Canoe Foundation, we don’t begin to have a complete grasp of the complications and the bumps on the road, but we all must have the courage and resolve to continue onwards.
It is time for social change and to uplift the voices of the Indigenous communities…it is also time to learn from and follow the Indigenous lead. Learning about and adhering to their governing principles, the sacred Seven Grandfather/Grandmother Teachings of respect, honesty, humility, love, bravery, truth and wisdom would be a good place to start for those in the settler society.
We believe that with these principles of how to conduct one’s life towards others, can come Reconciliation.
As Brandi Morin, the French/Cree/Iroquois journalist from Treaty 6 in Alberta recently wrote upon the discovery of unmarked graves at Residential Schools:
“To those who want a better future for Canada and to those whose hearts are open; to those who see the wrongs going on, I challenge you to do something. To learn, to reach out to your Indigenous neighbour, to call on governments to stop perpetuating oppression and racism; and once and for all, for you to take a stand against it."
This country will never move forward if it’s not done hand in hand with the original inhabitants of these lands. Imagine if these were your children. Imagine the aching of your heart. Imagine a better way. Because we can change it together.
We are stronger when we stand together…when we speak with one voice…when we move forward in harmony to achieve the common goal of seeking peace with nature and each other.
As Jack Layton so poignantly wrote in concluding his final letter, “…love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”