• Gillian Cormier

Reflections and Resources—Social Justice for Indigenous Canada

These past weeks I have been feeling major heartache from the suffering of many people in the world. Whether that be the situation with Palestinians, or the heartbreaking discovery of 215 children in the residential school in Kamloops British Colombia. The uncovering of these stories, lives, history and current conflicts makes me feel so heavy.


The bad news is that these situations exist, but the good news is that we can speak up against it. And more importantly we can do our parts to learn more. How can we be an ally with those mourning? I sometimes feel this overwhelming feeling of seeing all of these horrific parts of humanity’s past, present and even our future. I think to myself—how am I supposed to live my day-to-day life, find happiness, look after myself and my wellbeing, work on my meaningful project related to social justice whilst being an ally with those who are suffering and who have suffered?


This is where my privilege really comes to light. I have lived my authentic and full life thanks to the privilege I hold in my part of the world. I even experience this feeling of guilt for expressing that, but I realize that guilt serves no one. I’ve reflected on this thought a lot. I feel that I can hardly handle the weight of these stories, by simply learning them. Yet, I have never experienced in my own individual life racism, ethnocide, genocide of my people— just to name a few. Although knowing and learning about the world's problems can be heartbreaking, I think it is my duty as a good citizen and community member to properly give my condolences and actions to make this world a better place day by day. One action, learning and conversation at a time.


I also realize that I as one person cannot solve all world problems. What I can do however, is influence my communities on given issues. I can influence my family, my loved ones, my social groups to learn, to listen, to be empathetic. I can also put pressure on organizations and governments to take action. And the more people do this the closer we get to social justice.


By being motivated to act for others, we are enriching our own lives. When we live for the lives and wellbeing of others, we live a life that is fulfilling and meaningful. We are not just looking out for ourselves and our best interest, we are partaking in something that is bigger than ourselves. We are partaking in an energy that brings purpose to our own lives, and the lives of others. To live the most meaningful lives, we need community, purpose and peace—not just for ourselves but for all.

Although I think that sharing stories and raising awareness is powerful by itself, I also feel it necessary to first listen, understand the history and the root of our problems and just sit with it. As much as I want this article to be an article which helps myself and my readers act, I do think it is of great importance for us to take some time to learn and reflect. Take some time to grieve. Take some time to process, to amplify, and to speak up for what is right. In the past few days I have been learning more myself. I have seen many resources shared from the media, from my friends, and online community about the history and treatment of our indigenous peoples to the present day.


As it is a subject that is of continuous learning for me, I want to share with my readers some of the wonderful resources I’ve seen out there so far. We can use our knowledge to push change, and to stand for justice.


Words that helped remind me of what I can do:

"A settler guide for navigating the topic of the Residential School"



A Couple of Videos

Video: Non-indigenous residential school survivor speaks about his childhood at St. Anne’s

Video: Death at Residential Schools


A Few Books to Read:

The Inconvenient Indian (about the history and treatment of indigenous peoples)

Indian Horse (narrative)

There’s Something in the Water (Environmental Racism in Nova Scotia)


Readings & Coursework

Free course on Indigenous Canada with University of Alberta

Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls


There are MANY resources out there that teach us about the history, that tell us the stories and ways to act out there. These are just a few that I've come across and would like to share. I hope that from all angles we can mourn together, and that we can make this world a better place for our indigenous brothers and sisters.


Be the Change,

G


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