OPINION: Make Indigenous Peoples Day count, Squamish

In the wake of the release of “Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” it feels as if those of us who descend from settlers have a perfect opportunity to step up.

To be the allies — not attempt to be saviours — demanding the changes Indigenous peoples have long been calling for.

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Or we could squander another opportunity to hear what our sisters are saying.

I feel a bit uncomfortable writing about this, lest I come across as another comfortable white woman virtue sharing — looking ‘woke’ by having read the report — for Facebook likes.

But action is required by us all and this is my platform not to squander.

It is not enough for non-Indigenous people to parrot the acknowledgment about unceded territory before our meetings or to invite a Squamish Nation elder to perform an opening.

We haven’t begun to make the changes necessary. It will take generations to address the wrongs done.

This is just the start.

Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day is June 21.

There can be no better way to spend this day than reading that National Inquiry report.

Granted, reports, unless you are a policy wonk, usually suck.

But this one is vital.

It holds the keys to our collective history and it provides clear pathways forward.

It is a roadmap of sorts for those of us who know systematic racism and violence exists against Indigenous females, but don’t quite get how it manifests or what to do about it.

The report reveals Canada’s “significant historical and ongoing rights violations in four areas: the right to culture, the right to health, the right to security and the right to justice.”

For settlers, understanding our privilege is uncomfortable. But some of us have been living in a gilded cage my friends, not really seeing the world around us as it is. And not seeing the strength, resilience, and capacity of the Indigenous peoples and cultures that have survived genocide (Yep, using the word. It is accurate).

We need to rebuild our country to be the one we have long purported it already is: a place that values all people equally.

First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples “are not only ‘victims’ or survivors of colonial violence, but holders of inherent, constitutional, treaty and human rights that are still being violated,” the inquiry’s Interim Report reads.

Read the report.

It isn’t about being nice.

It is about being base-level informed.

Every candidate for MP in our riding better have read it because we are going to ask how committed you are to quickly complete the very direct recommendations outlined.

For those of us who want to be better allies to our Indigenous sisters, Amnesty International has a great resource online: search “10 Ways to be a genuine ally to Indigenous communities.”  

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