We would like to begin by acknowledging that the nine Women’s Centres are in Mi’kma’ki the traditional and ancestral territory of the Mi’kmaq People and we acknowledge them as the past, present, and future caretakers of this land.
June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day for Canadians to come together, reflect on and celebrate the unique heritage, traditions, and knowledge of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. First Nations, also known as Indian bands, are the largest group of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, with over 600 recognized bands. They are diverse in their cultures, languages, and traditions and are located throughout Canada, with the largest populations in Ontario and British Columbia. Each Indigenous group in Canada has its own distinct history, culture, and traditions, and should be recognized and respected as unique and valuable parts of Canadian society.
As an ally of Indigenous peoples, there are several things you can do to help support their efforts toward justice, equality, and reconciliation:
- Educate yourself: Take the time to learn about the history and ongoing struggles of Indigenous peoples in your country. This includes learning about the impacts of colonization, residential schools, and the ongoing effects of systemic discrimination and racism.
- Listen and amplify Indigenous voices: One of the most important things allies can do is to listen to and amplify Indigenous voices. This means supporting Indigenous-led initiatives and organizations, sharing their stories and perspectives, and ensuring that their voices are heard in discussions and decision-making processes.
- Respect Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination: Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination and sovereignty over their lands and resources. As an ally, it is important to respect and support their efforts to assert these rights.
- Take action: There are many ways to take action as an ally, including donating to Indigenous-led organizations, participating in demonstrations and protests, and advocating for policy changes that support Indigenous rights and sovereignty.
- Examine your own biases and privilege: It is important to examine your own biases and privilege and work towards dismantling them. This includes recognizing and addressing any internalized racism or prejudices, and actively working towards creating a more equitable and just society for all.
To help you learn more, here is a link to an interactive map, that directs you to each of the 13 Mi’kmaq First Nations within Nova Scotia. Here is a link to the Office of L’nu affairs L’nu: or L’nuk, is the term the Mi’kmaq use to describe themselves as Indigenous people. It means “the people.”
Unama’ki College located within Cape Breton University posted a list of words for members of non-Indigenous communities to learn.
Here is a link where you can read about some of the important Mi’kmaq legends.
Remember that being an ally is an ongoing process that requires commitment, learning, and action. It is important to listen to and learn from Indigenous peoples themselves, and to work in solidarity with them towards a more just and equitable future. At Connect we are continually learning more about how we can deeply engage and move forward the work of truth, reconciliation, and equity. We recognize that without action, an acknowledgement is empty. We hope this marks the beginning of the work ahead of us, not the end.
- Treaty Education Nova Scotia – “We Are All Treaty People”
How to be a Treaty Person
- United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action