September 20, 2023; Truth & Reconciliation Year-Round
00:13 JAMES GAMAGE, HOST:
Welcome listeners to a very special episode of Responsible Disruption. I'm your host, James Gamage, and in today's episode we took a step back to let others take the reins. You see, today's episode is unlike any other we've done before. It's not about me, and it's not about my voice. It's about amplifying voices that need to be heard. My colleague Daisy Giroux has been working hard to bring some remarkable guests to explore a topic that's more important than ever. We know about September 30th, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It's a day when we pause to reflect on the painful experience of Indigenous Peoples in Canadian history. Well, what about the rest of the year? How can we carry the spirit of reconciliation beyond a single day on the calendar, and how can we all act as allies to the Indigenous community here? That's the question we're diving into today. We had the privilege to sit down with three Indigenous leaders in the community, Tim Fox, VP of Indigenous Relations and Equity strategy from the Calgary. Foundation Angela Houle, Assistant Principal from the Calgary Catholic School District, and Sarena Provost, Indigenous Manager from the YMCA. Throughout this episode, you'll hear their stories, insights, and calls to action. You'll learn how you too, can be part of the ongoing journey toward healing understanding, and unity. We conducted this episode in the form of a talking circle, asking our guests four questions that we thought were important in guiding us through an exploration of honoring Truth and Reconciliation throughout the year, so grab your headphones, find a quiet space, and prepare to be inspired, educated, and moved by the voices you're about to hear. Without further ado, let's hear a bit more about our guests.
02:04 ANGELA HOULE, GUEST 1:
Oki nick, sokwa Nisku wannakok numskull ohsoko. My name is Angela Houle and my Blackfoot name is Thunder Pipe Path. I am an Assistant Principal in the City of Calgary and I'm a visitor to Treaty 7 territory. I was born and raised in Treaty 6 territory. And my father's family comes from Metis communities in southern Saskatchewan. Thank you for having me.
02:32 TIM FOX, GUEST 2:
Oki nick, sokwa anistoni daniku natwisa oka assum. My name is Tim Fox, and I'm originally from the Kainai Nation. It's a part of the Siksika Confederacy, the Blackfoot Confederacy. My family comes from the Aapohsoyioyiikoan clan. And in English, that translates to the Many Children's Clan. I am a proud father of a 12 year old daughter and also currently working for a settler created philanthropic organization. The Calgary Foundation have been there since 2017 in the same role as Vice President and Business Relations and Equity Strategy. Really happy to be here.
03:09 SARENA PROVOST, GUEST 3:
Oki, nisura umatuwaki nimoto do Piikani, born and raise in Piikani First Nation but currently call Mohkinstsis home. I am Indigenous Manager from YMCA Calgary and I am happy to be here.
03:24 JAMES: As you can tell, we have some very exceptional guests. I can't wait for you to hear more from Angela, Tim, and Sarena. Let's get into the first question we asked our guests and that was what is the best way to describe what the National Day for Truth and reconciliation should mean for Canadians?
03:42 TIM: Well, I think right off the bat, it's definitely a commemoration holiday or a commemoration day. Much like we have throughout the year for many things, many significant events. For me, I'm also the child of Residential school survivors and so growing up, I didn't really know exactly what that meant, or the fact that both of my parents also went to residential schools, or even what residential schools were about. I think all Canadians can probably resonate with that. Definitely our generation and generations before us can relate to the missing story of what that what that was like. So for me, when I do this work, I try to invite Canadians and participants of the workshops that I facilitate for truth and reconciliation to really recognize their responsibility behind amplifying that story, and amplifying the significance of the impacts, the negative impacts that some of our communities are still going through but also recognize, I think this day and age we are seeing a lot of important issues amplified through Indigenous voices like we're now finding our voice when it comes to protecting our land and protecting our water and protecting women and children and all that kind of stuff. And I feel like Canadians see that externally. They'll see this news story, although read about this march going on but without taking a deep dive into what truth and reconciliation means, they're still going to struggle with why these efforts are being made in the first place. We see a lot of our peers at these gatherings for healing and reparation. I think our hope is that we'll see a lot more Canadians come out and support those efforts. There's such a huge need for change and and I think the Indigenous community in general is still not equally treated as equal as any other Canadian, so there's this level of inequality that's still happening. And so for me, that's what that day is about. It's about learning about all of that, not only on that day, that day is definitely significant with a specific focus on what that means, and there's a lot that we have to reconcile as a Canadian society, I would say as a North American society in general, so very long winded. But to me, it should mean to all Canadians a level responsibility that they have and that there's a lot we have to reconcile with.
06:41 ANGELA: I'd love to add to what Tim said, even though he did such a wonderful job and a fulsome job of answering that question. One thing that I have been adding to the discussions I have with people around what it should mean to Canadians, because every now and then you'll have somebody say, well, I came from a place that had genocide. Or I came from a place where we were starving and or I have come from a conquered people or all these fallacious things that people say that don't equate to this conversation, but how I stop them every time in their tracks when we're having a discussion is by saying, isn't it great to be part of the first group of people who are doing this right? Who are actively engaging in not doing the things, repeating the mistakes of the past that cultures had when they clashed with each other. When I saw the word should in the question, that's what I thought about, should, what should it mean? Tim talked very beautifully about what it does mean and what it should mean, but it also should mean that it's giving Canadians the chance to do this right, to make amends, to learn the truth, and to establish relationships toward reconciliation. The word reconciliation I sometimes find misleading because to reconciliate or to reconcile means to make right a formally good relationship and I don't believe that it was a good relationship that we're now making right. But I do believe we can now forge and correct the incorrect relationship that was started. We can now forge together towards the future, making right relations.
08:40 SARENA: Again, I think both Angela and Tim have really said beautifully, really what it should mean. But for someone like myself as a young person, it's always an upward battle and the one thing that this holiday should not be is a holiday. Some people will just take it as because now it's a stat holiday recognized across Canada. And some people just take it as a day and just take a day off. But really, what are you doing in your efforts to learn and to engage and to amplify our voices or even understand it? So what it should be is a day of it's not a holiday, it's a day for you to actually engage with community. It's an opportunity to attend events to hear those stories. You can even spend the day at home watching movies like we were children, Bones of Crows. And there's a multitude of videos that people can watch online. You can listen to survivor stories. One of the things that I struggle with every year... I'm a granddaughter of a residential school survivor. I'm also a daughter to two-day school survivors. And that's the other piece that's also missing is when you're talking about these schools that it's not just residential schools. It continued into day schools and then those day schools continued into the child welfare system. So it's still unfortunately still embedded in our society and barriers that we face and barriers our children's face and our communities face and I just think that I'm really tired of having to be the one to tell, to educate, and it's exhausting when you hear the stories that I've heard growing up from my aunties and even my grandmother before she had passed and my mom and having to come to work and constantly, Hey, can you tell me about this or hey, can you come and share this knowledge or hey, can you do this? Well, I will start it, but at some point, it's your own journey to take on. And so what the day should be is a day of your own learning and your day of your own engaging because at some point it becomes exhausting emotionally and spiritually to continue to carry the load of having to teach, and even though I like it. But I've gotten to a place where it's not my responsibility. I've done my fair share and I've done enough. We're now, what are you going to do? So, I think it's a day for people to engage in community and to take on their own learning and quit extracting from us, they're trying to do the work and hold space for other people and for our elders and for our community, that it's their responsibility to carry their own space.
11:29 JAMES: Sarena provided an excellent segue into the second question we asked, which was what can non-Indigenous people do to honour this day?
11:39 ANGELA: I think that's such a beautiful question because so often we find days of remembrance, especially cultural days of remembrance and I think the general population thinks it's for the Indigenous people to remember. No, that's not what it's about. It's for Canadians. Canadians have been gifted the time to do their own learning. And like Sarena says, hold space for this learning and there are so many opportunities when you live in a city as big as Calgary or any other metropolitan area in Canada, there's going to be a ton of events so you can attend events, you can meet people, you can support Indigenous vendors on the actual day. But because we're talking about the whole year, you need to sort of think about this on a broader scope than just one day supporting Indigenous businesses. I actually recommend people listen to 88.1 FM, which is the Indigenous Radio station. Not only do they got some awesome Metis fiddling, they highlight Indigenous entrepreneurs, Indigenous businesses, Indigenous events. It's like a way to use your commute to learn about the Indigenous community. I also always recommend Doctor Yvonne Poitras Pratt, who's a Metis scholar. And her colleague, Doctor Patricia Danyluk, they wrote a paper about the ways you can start this work as a non-Indigenous person. There's three steps. One is quietly by going to museums, by reading books, by listening to the radio, by appreciating art, by attending events. I guess that sort of segues into number two, which would be like attending vigils, attending marches, attending powers, attending round dances, attending craft sales and starting to meet the people and learn about the culture and then the third step which not everyone gets to. But if you got to that step, it would be to help walk alongside Indigenous lead initiatives. You have to watch out for trying to use your power and privilege. You're trying to use it for good, but you're overtaking and you're overpowering and you're abusing that. If you want to be someone who actually gets involved, you have to ensure that you take a back seat. And you only pull the oar. You're not directing the sails, you're not commanding anything. You are helping Indigenous initiatives and Indigenous people in those events. That's what they recommend, and I think those are great steps because the biggest fear I hear is that I'll do something wrong and I tell people all the time, you're going to. I screwed up six months ago and I've done this work for years and I always say you're going to just apologize. I think in the colonizer society we have been taught to feel shame and then make excuses. Oh, I didn't know. Oh well, somebody told me this. Oh well, I read that. Oh, No. Apologize. Thank the person for teaching you what they're teaching you about how they want to be treated and move forward. It's the only way to make progress, so that's why step number one is the best because it's quiet, it's solitary, it's alone, there's zero risk, and then you start to get as you learn, you start to incur more personal interactions. And putting yourself out there a little bit more, but you've done the learning and now you know when you screw up because it's not if it's when. Sorry, what do I need to know so that I can do better in the future? Thank you for sharing that with me. I will always do that.
15:25 TIM: Yeah, I agree. I think that there's some really amazing, tangible things that people can do on that day. But I also like to encourage people just to have a lot of realizations because we are talking about the full year and things that they can do beyond just the day of commemoration day. So one of the realizations that speaks to what Angie just talked about when someone who's non-Indigenous or someone who's been so conditioned by colonization, and we all have, it's that response, that guilt and then that shame and all that kind of stuff and I just would like people for that day to realize that historically, there's been a very negative impact. If you're Indigenous, there's this negative opinion about who you are. I've had to grow up with some of it. My parents definitely had to grow up with some of it. My friends like Sarena probably has faced levels of discrimination and racism just by who we are and it's one thing for me to talk, about this stuff and in theory and from a broad perspective but I always like to tie in some sort of personal reflection as well, so one of my biggest fears of Char my daughter going to school in general was that she was going to face levels of racism and then expected to happen so soon. But in Grade 2, and I think even Angie knows the story because I had to reach out to her to calm myself down and to not react in a papa bear kind of way and so. But she did. And so Canadians people just didn't need to realize that our history, this Canadian history has been strategically designed. It was on purpose. It's not when we encourage people to learn about residential schools or the 60s scoop, it wasn't just something that just so happened to happen to a group of people. It was intentional. It was intentional and has led to how society exists today, our attitudes, our beliefs, they're shaped by this very conditioned piece of history, which is contributing to discrimination. It's contributing to stereotypes about who Indigenous people are, and all you got to do is walk downtown, any urban center and you'll see Indigenous people struggling with poverty, with substance abuse, with all that kind of stuff, and what do we do because of how we've been conditioned is like, oh, there goes that Indigenous person, there goes that lazy, this, that, and the other thing. When they do what we're suggesting on this podcast and through this learning that Angie and Sarena talked about is more than just watching that movie, is more than learning about what these schools were about, but realizing that it has had a long lasting impact that exists today and that there is a need for all systems to change, there's a need for all of your families to change. People do some of this work in these workshops and after I spend some time with them, they come up to me and sometimes they ask. OK, so what's next. And I feel like because of how we were conditioned, we are used to identifying a complex issue or problem and then immediately wanting to find a solution or fix the problem. It's not that straightforward when it comes to this truth and reconciliation work. I encourage people and this is a concept I learned from my time with the circle on philanthropy where they encourage us to think about all of our spheres of influence. So for your listeners, I would encourage them to think about their spheres of influence when it comes to their family, their immediate family. Then think of their spheres of influence when it comes to their friend groups. Then think of their spheres of influence when it comes to their workplaces and if they're engaging on that day and beyond watching these movies, going to workshops, reading articles, all that kind of stuff, and they're becoming enlightened and motivated to really step into this work. Then they struggle with what to do next. I want them to think about their spheres of influence. All those people within those spheres of influence that I just talked about and ask themselves, do all these people have this same level of realization and motivation that I now think that I have? And if the answer is no, then that's what's next, because Canadian history has done a good job sweeping this truth under the rug, not talking about it time and time again. When we hold space for that, we often get that reflection. Oh, I didn't learn about this, or this is the first time learning about this in this way. So those tangible things, but moving forward also have that realization that there is a need and a requirement for Canadians to change their attitudes and their beliefs need to change. Our children are still being impacted by these stereotypes. And when that incident happened with my daughter, I went to the school to contact the parents of those children and let the parents know that she was the victim of racism because children are not born with those ideologies, they're learned somewhere along the lines in those kids families were hearing these things about who Indigenous people are. So when my daughter raised her hand to suggest a cultural activity that focused on her Indigenous ancestry, her First Nations heritage. I don't know what she was met with, but she showed up at the end of that day with apology letters. We had to figure out what was going on. We ended up realizing that she was teased. The school didn't contact us, just made sure that she was sent home, and I don't know if that would have been the same response if a non-Indigenous child was being put in that situation, their parents probably would have been called. Other things would have happened, but because of the work that I do and I'm so passionate about, people need to change. I don't hold any resentment or anger to those children. I hold their families responsible.
21:43 SARENA: I really resonate with her story because when I was younger. So I have this birthmark on my arm and it's kind of like pigmented skin. So it's different colors. And when I'm not tanned, it's darker than the rest of my skin. And so when I was growing up, I was called a dirty Indian. And every school year at gym, I was met with like steel brushes and bleach because they wanted me to... I was not clean enough. And every day I go home and tell my mom. Can I please go to school and be Gunny? Can I please go to school with my cousins? Nobody there is like me. They don't look like me and I can't, I can't. So I started wearing long sleeve clothes and I was really insecure when I was in elementary school. And so the school didn't do anything. And this was way back in the 90s and for six years I went through that. You know now that I think back on it as an adult, I did blame the children at the time because I was young and I just assumed these kids are mean. And I had nobody that was willing to defend me, to stand up for me because they didn't want to be put at risk of being bullied. My mom's constantly at the school every day, but it never changed. And I would love to think that there's hope that society will change, schools will change. But Tim is 100% right. But these are learned behaviors. This is table conversations. These are things you were learning at home, and then it's trickling into how you're because kids don't see color. When I was growing up, half of my friends I remember I got called an Apple Indian because more than half my friends were kids from town because funny enough, I was a keener, I was this, I was that. Children from the community didn't want to hang out with me. And so majority of my childhood friends are people from the town. And it's a struggle. And so when I started to get older, I started to... that's why I was like OK so I again I blame the children because as I got older things changed. I had different friends and had different peers that were backing me up it was the other around. I was being teased by my nation friends and so I do see our children in care because I do work with children care and you know it's a struggle for them even... there's this kinship disconnect that they don't understand and it does stem from residential schools and every year, our kids, I guarantee you every year our children and they go back to school, they're facing some kind of racism. They're met with some kind of a barrier. I remember I have a little a little niece that's seven years old. And she was asking me about residential schools one day. So I was trying to find a movie for her to watch, try and educate her. But there even the resources for them at that age is hard because they're in this stage of exploring and wanting to know, but if it does stem from the home fires like what you teach and what you educate and what you're willing to share with your children and, like I said, I want to have hope that there's a little bit of faith in humanity that things will change and systems will change. But it is their responsibility. Once you've engaged in this knowledge or you've attended a session, whether it's a blanket exercise or you've gone to some kind of a conference, it's your responsibility to further your own learning, and that's where I'm saying that it gets exhausting. Is once you've have a base of understanding. It's like Tim said, what's next? But the what's next step always falls on us as Indigenous knowledge keepers or elders because they think we have all the answers. But I'll say what I tell my peers. You weren't there to get me through high school. You weren't there to get me through university. So it's not my responsibility to get you through this learning and it's what they feel value in that. How important is this? And it's hard when you hold space and you have to hold space every day. It becomes spiritually exhausting and right down to offering tobacco. People don't understand that every time you offer someone tobacco, you're constantly putting them in ceremony. And I've got one year. I was in ceremony every day because I was constantly being offered tobacco to sit with this elder or tobacco for this event to happen. And the thing too is we can't say no. We were taught never to say no. And so when people come to us, it's really hard to try and put that learning back on them because then they come and they ask you for something, especially if they come with tobacco, because people have learned what that tobacco exchange means, it's hard for you to say no and so you get put in this place where you have to continue to hold space and then have to go home and try if you have children, try and go home and try be a parent while you're still carrying all of this or like over the summer, I had my niece and my nephew and I felt what a parent felt for two weeks and man that was a lot of work. And then that same two weeks I had to hold a blanket exercise and I went home that evening. My niece was like, I wanna do this, this and this. And I was exhausted. But I had to dig deep inside myself to be like, OK, let's go. Because I didn't want to ruin her day, but they have to understand how extractive this is and how it doesn't just impact us, but it impacts our families and impacts our communities. And so be mindful but what they should also do is be mindful of when they're asking these things when they're asking these things. And before you ask, is this something you could do on your own before you come to community and then also Calgary has a massive Indigenous community. There is over 70, either Indigenous led programs or agencies within the City of Calgary. There's round balances almost every year. There's Tsuut’ina and Siksika and Stoney that are neighboring Calgary that people can all attend functions. There's things year round and there's things that people can engage with and supporting Indigenous businesses. There's a ton of them that are tech savvy. They're all online now. You could buy stuff online, not just having to go to a craft event. You can buy something year round and so just things like that. So again, it's a responsibility that one has to take on themselves and not something that has to keep coming back to us.
28:52 ANGELA: I think to quote, I don't know if he's former Chief Cadmus Delorme. I know he said he wasn't going to run again for the Cowessess nation in Saskatchewan. I saw him speak last October. And just back to what Tim and Sarena both said, these discussions are great. The conferences are great. The university classes, all those things are great. All those conversations are great. But the most important conversation is the one at the dinner table. And he's 100% right and that is what non-Indigenous people can do to honor this day. I have my own, my very own uncle, who knows he can't talk the way he normally talks or wants to talk or used to talk when I'm around. Because I have made a point of being a disruptor wherever I can, and because I have blonde hair and blue eyes, I get more opportunities to tune in to those conversations, and we're talking right from my kitchen table to a hot tub in radium a couple of years ago. I'm not visually recognizable. And so I always have to say, and I encourage you because it's not easy to be a disruptor and I don't want to start conflict. My question, it's always a question. Ohh, where did you hear that? Oh, why do you think that? How many Indigenous people do you know? Oh, where did you see that happen? It's always a conversation that starts with a question and people find very quickly they don't have an answer or they don't have an adequate answer and so my kitchen table, Tim’s kitchen table, Sarena's table, those are important conversations wherever we're at. And that's what every Canadian who knows better can do. When you know better, you must do better. And so if people could do that, that would change a lot of the interactions in our society.
31:10 JAMES: Our third question was why is it important to continue to honour this day throughout the year?
31:17 TIM: I think there's an opportunity. I think the relationship... sometimes often, the relationship between Indigenous people and Canadians is often fractured. It's broken. One of my good friends Jessica Bull Duke would say there's this invisible border that we have placed between these two groups of people. And there's tons of examples that I can share, but I think there's an opportunity to strengthen those relationships. And for Canadians to really realize and experience the beauty of Indigenous culture and heritage. So when a non-Indigenous organization comes to me or a non Indigenous person and this has happened in the past, comes to me and says, you're doing this work, and I really have this desire to learn Indigenous history and learn about the truth and reconciliation and all that kind of stuff and that. So I've made it a point. If I get that question to ask them what that means, and often times they'll say, well, I want to learn about the residential school system, or I want to learn about the 60s scoop. And then I have to stop them really quickly. And I say, do you realize that that's not Indigenous history. That's a part of the deep, deep, dark, hidden Canadian history. If you want to learn about Indigenous history, it's a lot more beautiful than that. It's about witnessing this act of the exchange of tobacco and how we are taught, and even though it is the responsibility, it's the responsibility that we are taught. But it's a really beautiful thing to watch. When you have that and what we do with that and all that kind of stuff and so people just don't really realize the beauty of this paradigm in this world and our values and these things that we have been taught.
This is an example of a big lesson and value that I have been raised with and I try to live my life by and do this work by, is this Blackfoot term, kima piisto which loosely translates to the kindness and compassion for all things not people. And so as tough as this work is, as challenging as this work is, I try to do it in the most kind and humble way and be that for my friends and my colleagues in the community. That's just what I've been taught. And that's a value and life lesson. Sometimes it's been disrupted because of this history and some of our peers in the community, maybe were not exposed as much as they could ever have. But again, that's through no fault of their own. That's through everything that happened to Indigenous people when we weren't allowed to do things or it was against the law to do things, it was so extreme. That when we are experiencing the beauty of healing and the beauty of hope. And one thing that's exciting for me is that there's a new kind of leadership that's emerging in the younger generation. And they're actually going home and teaching and educating their parents about a lot of this stuff. So that's what gets me excited about this. That's why I know things are changing, that this younger generation has no patience for any of that kind of stuff. And yeah, I see that in my child and the children around me and my friends’ children and so there's a lot of progress that's happening and they're not afraid. Our friend Beena Patel would encourage us to do is design for progress and not comfort. And I think that's what I'm saying in this other generation, they couldn’t care less if you're comfortable or not in a dialogue about this. They're just more interested and motivated to know that things really have to change, not only in the space of reconciliation, but I would say, in the space of equality in general. Just because our society at one point was built off power and privilege. It was built, built up of characteristics of white supremacy. And that's what we are living in today. That's what we're challenged by today. That's what our systems are built off and so I'm just really hopeful for that younger generation and the last thing that I'll say for this question is, for Canadians, just to realize that on days like that, likely Indigenous people will be showing up to do this work, and they should realize how exhausting that is and how heavy that could be. But they should just come out and give us that respect to come up and show up as participants and hear what it is we have to see or engage in this learning if they can because we are every day we're showing up to do this work and I think the invitation is for them to also show up in into that circle and really learn what the beauty of Indigenous history is because it's not these negative things that's a part of Canadian history. And if they're Canadians and they really have to learn about that.
36:48 ANGELA: I think to add to what Tim says, the more they learn, the more effectively they can help Indigenous people do this work. I'm loosely paraphrasing Murray Sinclair, former senator doctor Murray Sinclair, he said, Essentially, I took you two and showed you the mountain. It's not my job to climb it. And that's such a beautiful metaphor for me. The other reason I think it's important to continue to honor this day throughout the year is that the legacies of Canadian history, not Indigenous history and legacies of Canadian culture and of colonization, don't exist only on one day. They exist every day of the year, and some of the offshoots will call them that legacy. Like a misrepresentation in the prison system, in unemployment, in medical and education, all of those things exist every day. So I think the Indigenous community is providing a brilliant, beautiful opportunity in the Canadian governance. Governments provided a beautiful, brilliant time slot, a space for people to start these journeys and to start this learning so that on the other 364 days of the year they can be more effective in helping to move society towards reconciliation.
38:19 SARENA: I also would like to add to that, like Tim has said, there's so much beauty to our people and when I say beauty, there's historical sites you can visit, so you can go to riding on Stone head Smash and Buffalo jump, you can go out to Blackfoot Crossing and learn about treating number seven. You can learn about the Indian Act and where all of this stems from and how there are two living documents that continue to this day to govern one population of people. Every day, our Chiefs are still battling to sustain our just our Treaty rights just to exist. Right down to protecting our land and we're not just showing up at these places just to cause trouble. There is true intent behind what we do and why we do what we do. There's powwows you can attend, but if you really want to learn about a culture and learn the DP where this this dark history comes from, it does come from that Indian act, the White Paper, 60 scoop and that is not like Tim said, it's not our history. That is Canadian history. And until Canadians learn to separate those two concepts and to quit putting them together because that's what they are, is that it's a peace legislation that was created by colonizers that to this day still govern us. Sadly, I was an expired Indian for about a year and I'm now my Status cards up to date so I'm no longer expired. That's what I mean is there's little things simply down to a Status card that still govern us by, but the one thing that I love about our culture is that there's a lot of young people in my community that are learning to learn the language, and right now there's two young girls that work for Waterton Lakes National Park that speak fluently in our language and our linguistics. They have an education in linguistics, and so they're developing a hiking program based on the language. And so there's a lot of beauty when he talks about these young leaders that are up and coming, they don't care, they're going to do their own thing and they're creating spaces in places that we never thought we would be. You look at Waterton Lakes as an example. You go down there and you can see any of those park wardens and say I'm coming to pick medicine, they will take you into the back mountains to where it's sacred and nobody else can go and we can access our medicines. Or if you're going to go and get teepee poles or lodge poles for your sweat, Waterton Lakes is open to allowing us to do that. I don't know if Banff is in that same space yet, but I know for sure Waterton is, but those are small victories that we're having, and there's a lot of beauty to it. We can learn a lot about our sacred ceremonies and stuff from these places as well. So there is beauty to us and the one thing I really love is that we're still here after so many years of colonization and continued colonization to this date. We're still here and our children. It's really important for us to pave the way forward so that our children have hope and can feel pride in who they are. A lot of the young people that I work with that grew up in are in the urban centers. When you ask them where they're from, they'll say Calgary. Nine times out of ten, they struggle with identifying with where they're actually from. But when you guide them down a path to connect with their roots and their ancestry, there's a different sense of pride that comes out of that. And girls love to learn to make ribbon skirts or to build a hand drum or go on those cultural field trips to connect with the land and have land based teachings or have elders come out and and engage in sharing stories that oral way of learning. They love that stuff. And so there is a lot of pride and beauty in what we have. And I think again they're not the bigger victories that we would like to see, but they're small enough for us to feel pride and proud and find beauty in. So I do encourage Canadians to explore this place you call home, you know, watch making. So watch Elder In The Making and it's on YouTube. It talks about this place you call home. Who's crowfoot, right down to Fort MacLeod. So I just think that there's a little bit of hope and a little bit of faith and I'm really thankful that we have our elders here to teach us. And I'm not fortunate enough to have any of my grandparents alive anymore. But there's a lot of elders that have filled that void in my life. And I'm very thankful for that.
43:33 JAMES: And the final question we asked was if there was anything else they would like to share with us.
43:39 ANGELA: I think it's absolutely imperative that people locate themselves in terms of their power and their privilege. Because I've had so many straight white males say to me, well, I didn't, I was just born this way. Like why am I a bad guy? And I'm like you're not a bad person, but you are very fortunate for the way that you were born. The way that you came into this world and all you can do is own that fortune and move forward in the world accordingly. And so I encourage people to examine the wheel of power and privilege. Which you can find on Google, the Wheel of Privilege and Power, and it's Sylvia Duckworth's illustration. And it talks about all the different ways someone can have power or privilege. And it can be everything from your first language, your gender, your mental health, your sexuality. Your level of education, your skin color. We are born the way we are born and with that comes no guilt, no shame, no debt. But it comes with the responsibility of how we were born. We have to acknowledge where things are easier for us, where we have more power, where we have more privilege and move forward responsibly knowing that and another thing I tell people is that it's not all on the outside oppression. I mean, there is outward oppression, but there's also inner oppression and we can't see that you can't see I have a Blackfoot mom. Her name is Bukaki. She's from Ghana. Her English name is Wanda First Rider and she and I speak about how different we feel in Safeway, how different we feel walking into a school, walking into a courthouse, being pulled over by the police because of how she looks and because of how I look and if you are treated a certain way every time you go somewhere, you're going to start to assume that's how people feel about you when you walk in the door. So what I tell people all the time, the easiest introductory act to making right relations with Indigenous people is to smile, because if you have internalized oppression, you see a neutral face, that's a negative face because of your history because of your past interactions with other humans. So smile, how you doing? Where have you been? It's great to see you. That is the easiest way you can start making right relations with anyone who is oppressed.
46:30 TIM: Yeah, I think I'll add just a couple of thoughts. First of all, just recognition to my Indigenous peers that are doing this work because it isn't easy, but it's very necessary, I have a lot of respect for people like Sarena, Angie who are tasked to a certain extent, maybe not in all of our roles, but it's definitely part of my role. So it's something that I have accepted and I do find actually liberating. I find it liberating going into these spaces and being this shift disturber. Emphasis on the F and that word shift disturber because I feel like we are these answered prayers from our ancestors. We have such a strong connection to prayer and spirituality and to land that I can't help but think that our ancestors were praying for the survival of our ways when they were forcibly getting their kids taken away from them so I often say that we're not just the fastest growing segment of the population. Indigenous people are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. But that's not just by coincidence that we are these answered prayers. So we are put in these places we want to have a challenging day with a workshop. It's nothing compared to having a child being ripped from your arms. And so I think about that and that's why I'm so happy to do this work. As challenging as it is. So just a recognition that this work is ongoing and that there's a lot of Indigenous people are taking on that responsibility, so just wanted to honor them. And then the other thing that I'll say is there is another resource on the conversation. So there's a website called The Conversation and the article on that website is called Settlers With Opinions. So I always use that article not to let people know this work isn't about guilt or shame or anger. That's not our point. That's not what we desire to amplify in people or participants who are engaged in the things that we do. But there are challenging attitudes and beliefs out there who used to really get to me, and I've learned through elders that I've talked to that, yeah, Tim, it's your responsibility to do this work. You're doing the right work. But it's not your responsibility to change another person's mind. It is your responsibility to give them the facts. So everything that we're talking about, all of these things and resources, it's not based on our opinion, it's factual information. These historical events actually happened. And hopefully those challenging attitudes will be like, oh, well, maybe, I don't know enough or maybe I was led to believe something that isn't totally true. And so when I'm faced with the challenging opinion or that slightly racist uncle or aunt at the dinner table, I just redirect my energy. I don't get so defensive or argumentative. I just sort of stop and listen and and say, OK, tell myself do I have the energy or time to engage in this? And if I don't then I say, OK, well, thanks for sharing your opinion because I redirect my energy and I know that the progressive minds, the people who are excited and want to change and shift and have a desire to do that far outweigh those negative opinions. So I just redirect my energy, but I want Canadians to know that it's not about guilt or shame or anger. It's about giving the chance to do this life right, if not for ourselves, then for the future generation of, not only Indigenous children but all Canadian children that are coming up after us.
50:06 ANGELA: I need to step in here and say thank you to Tim for that because over the 15 years we've known each other, I've come to him a couple of times ready to jump off the roof or do something really drastic because I can't get through to someone. And Tim very wisely said, you've done all that you can do. If their heart isn't ready, it doesn't matter what else you do. You've done what you can, not everyone is. That's what you said to me. Not everyone is ready to hear it, but you've given them the facts and that lets me sleep at night when I come head-to-head with someone who just won't progress with me. So thank you very much for that.
50:52 SARENA: I've been in those places where I've done a couple blanket exercises, even in this year, there was two that were, I don't know, we were thinking, but we did a whole bunch in June and there was two within a week of each other. And man, were they heavy, there was a lot of stuff that was just kind of dumped on us as facilitators, and we were told, well, this isn't my responsibility. This isn't my... Well, this happened to me and even right down to this, this one participant compared our trauma to having to put her child in daycare. And we struggled with that and and then there's people telling their personal experiences. And so it was exhausting and end of it I didn't have an answer for any of it. Usually you have an opener and we have a debrief after a blank exercise and you have someone that starts it and someone that ends it. And the person that ends it has to listen to everything so that they can kind of come up with a closing comment. And it got to me. And I was closer and I was just like, I'm going to take the tobacco and put it on the line for everybody because I don't have a response and like Tim said, I just didn't have the energy. Even during the blanket exercise, there was this one lady that just kept laughing and just kept giggling and then there was this disturbance and this disruption that you can feel like it was a joke or like none of this actually happened. And there was a bit of denial. And so sometimes, the work can be hard and Tim is right, you just have to let it go. So sometimes when we have that tobacco exchange, the tobacco that I get, I go put it on the on the land. And I thank creator for all that we've been blessed with. And then I ask for prayers for them to open their hearts and to open their minds because sometimes you get to the point where, just like Tim said, is it even worth it? Because it can be exhausting when you're trying to hold space and if that space is met with negativity, it's even harder and heavier because every time I do an exercise, there's a comment or something that causes an internal trigger from my own traumas. And you don't realize it because people like to think you're strong and you've done these so many times. You can do them over and over, but sometimes there's little triggers that hit us and so then that's when you get to the end of the exercise and you're just like, I will just say a prayer and encourage them to do some self-care, encourage them to engage in any more further learning if they're interested. There's this elder named Patrick Daigneault. He's a Metis/Cree elder and I have so much respect for him. He one time told me we were holding a space for Elder Council for Doctor Reg Crowshoe, she's elder council and Patrick's part of that council. We couldn't smudge in the space that we were in. And he told me, don't welcome me to your home if I can't be me in your home. And so that has forever resonated with me, and so all of the work that I do, I think about that. Am I creating a space where people can be who they want to be and that this is a home? Like whether it's a work environment or you're in a ceremony or you're sitting with elders, they look at that as a safe space as a home space, as a home fire. And am I making it safe enough for them to be them and to feel safe? And so I always encourage everybody that I work with, whether it's within my own internal place of employment or externally, think about the space that you're holding and how you're holding that space. And can we smudge or can we be us in that space without judgment. And so I always encourage people to think about those kind of things and it's not just on specific days, it should be year round that those spaces are created. And to get away from the tokenization and do things from a genuine space and place. And that's intentional. And that is not just something that, oh, well, I did this because it's Indigenous peoples month or I did this because it's, Indigenous veteran's day. It should be something that's long term. It should be something that's ongoing. And the one thing that I really appreciate about the YMCA is that we created a TRC working group, and it's not led by Indigenous staff. It's led by non Indigenous staff that are allies that are willing to do the work and to hold that space. They now know what it what it takes to hold the space. I as an Indigenous leader within the work, I have faith in them that I can walk away and know that this work can be done and done the right way, and so we've had cultural field trips, we've had workshops and they're year round. They're not just on specific days, they're year round or a month. It's something that we do almost every month or something that we're hosting internally for people to learn. And so I think that that sort of thing too that we could do is not just do something on specific days or specific month, that's something that should be year round. So I have a little bit of faith and I'm very thankful for Tim and Angie and and my other brothers and sisters in this work. And I'm very thankful that we have our elders to help guide us.
56:42 ANGELA: Another book that I would encourage people to read if they're gonna start doing this work is called Is Everyone Really Equal and it's by [Ozlem Sensoy]. And just one last thought, Tim was talking about how it's not just done, Oh, I did this. Tick check the box. Struggle to create space wherever you are. There's a term called Decolonization which is the antithesis of colonization. So look at whose story is missing, whose culture is missing, whose voice is missing, and why is that. And with the reference to time I heard an elder say once that if it takes you 100 years to walk into the forest, it's going to take you 100 years to walk out of the forest. And so we've got a lot of work to do. But like Tim and Sarena, I have a ton of hope. I have 3 little kids and they get it. My son is 6 days younger than Tim's daughter. I have a daughter two years younger than that, and she she's in Grade 5 now. But when she was in grade two, she sat beside me at the supper table and she said, mamma, residential schools were bad. And if a seven year old can start that conversation, I think that anyone of us can start and hold that conversation to the best of our abilities. If you don't know, you can look it up. You can read, you can watch a video. If your child starts that conversation with you. I think that's a beautiful entry point.
58:21 JAMES: Before we wrap up today's episode, I want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the incredible guests who led their voices and wisdom to this important conversation. Thank you for sharing your stories, knowledge, and passion for truth and reconciliation. Your voices are the catalyst for change, and we are deeply honoured to have had you on this episode. And to our listeners, thank you for joining us on this journey. Remember truth and reconciliation is not just about one day, it's about every day. Let's continue the conversation, educate ourselves and take action.
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