On Being Indigenous (Indigenous Peoples Day)

On being Indigenous. Thinking Indigenous.

I love being Indigenous. I don’t need Indigenous Peoples day to celebrate it, I live it.

I get up every morning as my ancestors did and pray to the Creator to thank him for the night of rest, for the powerful mountains, oceans, rivers, and all living things that surround me.

I thank the Creator for our magnificent and abundant Hupacasath territory and the responsibility that comes with it to protect and manage it, ensuring it will continue to provide for generations of our people to come.

I follow in the footsteps of my ancestors, as they carved the path before me.

I think Indigenous. For Nuu-Chah-Nulth, hishuk-ish tsawalk (everything is connected), hishuk tsawalk (everything is one). I don’t think we are separated from the Creation. We are all connected. .

My relationship to the lands and waters are unexplainable other than to say they are strong, interconnected and bring me strength, resolve and hope. My spirituality is based in the lands and waters.

The lands and waters provide for us, and we are blessed with rich salmon runs, sea resources, berries, medicines, foodstuffs, and trees -- their bark, branches and wood. We were the richest people around before the white man came…now we struggle to retain enough for our use and for years ahead.

Respect for all that we have is foundational to who we are.

Our history goes back further than the mind can remember and tells truths of our ownership, governance, laws and protocols.

Our culture is based on the lands and resources and has many facets, it is not just singing and dancing, it is so much deeper. Immersing ourselves daily in our culture keeps us empowered and focussed on everything we do.

Taking care of one another is one of our fundamental teachings

Standing with our respective Nations keeps us united and resilient

Being indigenous is not easy as I have had to struggle all my life for our identity, our lands and resources, our governance and our very lives. Being indigenous had made me into a warrior, one that has had to fight many battles with governments and industries to maintain what is important and sacred to us. I had no other choice but to raise my voice for all to hear, going to court, defending the land and walking the streets with many to communicate our cause.

Being Indigenous is not easy and has meant we are subject to violence of colonialism and racism. Despite the structuraldiscrimination and inequities, we persist. We will not give up until our people are free from violence.

Being indigenous has meant that we have been subject to paternalistic, confining laws like the Indian Act and the assimilative Residential School system.

Being Indigenous means that we have to prove we have title to the land even though we were here when the white man arrived. They never got our land by war, treaty,discovery or by any legal means. They just took it and said it was theirs.

Being Indigenous means we have to negotiate for our lands and resources back when they were ours to begin with.

Being indigenous means we have had to learn patience, staying power and never give up attitudes in our lives as we struggle with governments to regain our place amongst the family of Nations.

Being Indigenous is a blessing. It is hard to have non-indigenous people and governments understand why things are important to us: our ties to the land, our spirituality, our need for self- determination. We will continue in our struggles for what is ours, In my language, ‘niiwaasnish nisma’ means it is our land. The title to all above, title to all underlying, title to all waters. It is all ours -- always has been and always will be. We are rising and cannot be stopped.

I work towards better lives for my grandchildren and many generations to come with hopes that they will be living what we fought for and not still fighting the good fight that we have had to do all our lives. That their energies will be for creating a positive, thriving future. I hope they will not have to endure the violence of colonialism like those who came before them. I hope they will be maintaining peace in our relations with Canadians - not still be demanding that their people stop killing us and destroying our lands.

On Indigenous Peoples Day, during COVID times where you can’t attend events, I urge you to email Prime Minister Trudeau (pm@pm.gc.ca), Minister Bill Blair (ps.ministerofpublicsafety-ministredelasecuritepublique.sp@canada.ca), Minister Marc Miller (marc.miller@canada.ca)
RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki (Brenda.Lucki@rcmp-grc.gc.ca), to have them meet with the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and Martha Martin, mother of Chantel Moore, who was shot senselessly by a police officer in Edmundston, New Brunswick on June 4, 2020 on a wellness check.

Collectively, we have to transform the systemic racism in policing in Canada. Ask the PM,Ministers, Commissioner to fund Indigenous-led solutions and alternatives for policing. Write your provincial Minister that deals with policing and demand changes as well. This is a huge issue and we need your help. Being Indigenous should not mean you can be shot by police. Being Indigenous is not a crime and should not be treated as such.

Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day support an important issue that is preventing another Indigenous person being shot senselessly by police

On Indigenous Peoples day reach out to a person, Nation or group to find out what their main issues are. Listen and learn and then ask what can I do to help.

Indigenous Peoples day is not just to watch singing and dancing or enjoy our marvelous foods. It is a call to action, to bring prominence to our struggle and make a better future for all of us, in our way.

Indigenous Peoples day is to envision a future that does not have racism and colonialism so our lives living together could be so different. A future not based on white dominance and violence. Imagine a future of peaceful co-existence. Then we can really celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day.

Indigenous Peoples Day falls on the summer solstice. A powerful day as the earth turns to a new season of growth, a new beginning. Let us together use that power for change for indigenous peoples.

I love being and thinking indigenous, let us collectively work hard to ensure that indigenous people everywhere can celebrate their indigeneity without fear of losing their lives.

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