Over the last decade, people have started to understand the deep seated racism towards Indigenous peoples. Non-Indigenous people are starting to become more aware of the human rights violations throughout Turtle Island, a recent catalyst for non-Indigenous wanting to learn about Indigenous cultures was the uncovering of children who attended the Residential School in Kamloops.
In terms of being an ally, It can be EXTREMELY hard, not to mention daunting, trying to figure out where and how to start. Wondering what is acceptable and what is not, trying to figure out what exactly is the line. In the next few paragraphs I will outline only a few ways that you can begin to learn and understand different Indigenous cultures.
The first suggestion that I can make is, look to educate yourself. This free course offered by the U of A is a great place to start.
Secondly, attend events! There are often events going on near you such as pow-wows, elder story-telling, drumming circles…more often than not there is an elder present or someone who can get you in touch with an elder. (With COVID measures changing often, there might not be in-person events, there will no doubt be online events in which you can take part.) Whether you ask them or you could send an email…Indigenous persons are actively trying to educate non-Indigenous people through ceremonies, activities, youth camps, etc. The most important part about that though is that one comes from a place of humility, simply trying to learn. This is an amazing approach because then you can share what you have learned with others.
Thirdly, this one is great for everyone BUT….social media!!! Get on your social media and follow some social media influencers, but learning from people who are actively involved in their nation’s culture is like the tip above…you can only learn from Indigenous persons. You cannot rely solely on facebook articles and google searches to learn and appreciate the boundaries and customs of Indigenous people and individual individual nations customs, current events and history.
It is the responsibility of society to start attempting the reconciliation of the past, not that of the nations recovering. I do want to say that this is not by any means an exhaustive list of ways to learn and become more involved in your community.
Some examples of Indigenous Social Media Influencers:
- @bentarrowyeg(I mean we had to put this one in there!)