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walkingwithoursisters

- by Karen Houle

It’s Indigenous Peoples Day here in Kanata. For a long time I had to choose between being who I was as a 2Spirit person, and being included in community as a person with two parents that were ‘half breeds’.

My life has often shifted and changed based on dichotomies, which is a little ironic since I am non-binary.

I want to celebrate today, my ancestors of both Siksika and Kitigan Zibi nations. I do, but it is difficult today. I am honoured and proud of my ancestors. Of my grandfather who was taken from his entire family when his mother died in a school the government forced her to go to. Of my other side grandmother who after she attended these schools was a survivor, but stripped of culture and connection, a success story in the goal of taking the Indian out of the Indian.

Of my parents who hid and lived in shame of who they are, taught by our society that they were less than. I took on that shame as well, and added extra based on my sexuality and not fitting into a gender binary that was brought to this land from Europe. I’m only now starting to make significant progress on unburdening myself of that shame.

Never think I am not proud of who I come from. They gave me strength, and kindness, and laughter, song and my love of all my relatives that live in this world be they rock, spider, fish or my beloved Kahlo.

This is my post today, and it’s not to speak to Indigenous folxs, but to speak to you average Canadians that are my friends. Read something Indigenous today. See a movie made by an Indigenous filmmaker, buy something to support an indigenous artist today, donate to an indigenous organization.

Indigenous folxs are not treated equally in this country. Really look farther than the news that’s spoon fed through mainstream news sources. Think about a man going into an emergency room and not being treated well by staff, maybe roughed up or even killed by security and thought of as drunk, when he might instead be having a stroke. Think about the folxs that go missing everyday, the man camps that stalk girls, the mercury poising and the inability to fix drinking water issues that have been around for decades.

Think of Cindy Gladue, Colton Boushie, Chantel Moore, and all the other know and unknown people that were not treated well by this system in life or in death.

Think about the continuation of the residential system, and sixties scoop in today’s child welfare systems. Think of the money that is paid out to private care group homes that see indigenous kids as dollars. Think about if we even put a partial amount of those resources into assisting the families that we took these kids from. For those that know me think of SA. Whom I miss and cherish and think about every day.

So today, if you can, please celebrate Indigenous folxs, but also start thinking about what each of us, and you in particular can do to change the status quo. Because the status quo is a system that continues in its brutalizing the first peoples of this land.

Miigwetch for listening to my post. I’m not one to really share like this, but if anything, in the quiet of these times, it’s made me reflect on how I need to step up, and what I need to do to create the change I want to see.

photo: women's hands working on the Walking With Our Sisters project

 

 

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