Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada, a day that recognizes and celebrates the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.
Over the past few years, I have made a conscious effort to learn more about these peoples, avoiding sources from a distinct colonial perspective (for example, government-approved, high school history curriculum), and opting instead for reading material written by indigenous authors.
Whereas I might skimp and save on some of the New York Times bestsellers I read, it is supremely important to me that I purchase this Indigenous reading material and read the sometimes difficult stories that are shared.
Supporting the artists is the least I can do. Sitting with my discomfort is a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, one that attempts to acknowledge all that was taken from our indigenous communities and all that continues to be denied.
A good friend who works for a community health care unit in Vancouver recently shared the text that she uses to sign off her work emails. It reads « I humbly acknowledge that I live and work on the unceded territories of … » and proceeds to name the affected nations.
I wish there was something equivalent that I could use to sign off my work emails but this province has a long way to go when it comes to acknowledging systemic racism, never mind stolen land. If I feel frustrated and powerless in the face of this denial, I can only imagine how the Indigenous communities feel. A day of recognition is a good thing but it isn’t enough to make a real difference. We need to walk the walk the other 364 days of the year.