Good morning everyone and Happy Canada Day!!
While we were taking a break on social media for the last few weeks myself and Team Jilly have been working hard behind the scenes to further educate ourselves on diversity and inclusion. We’ve been reading books, taking online courses, and having some difficult conversations.
When thinking about celebrating Canada Day most of us are excited to head to the pool or beach with a Caesar in hand. But there is a lot more to Canada and it’s history that I am just learning about. After doing some research I learned that Canada has a rather violent past associated with the discovery of our country. In trying to be more inclusive and diverse I think it’s really important to research and learn why we celebrate certain holidays. As Canadians, it’s important that when we are celebrating our countries roots that we are also celebrating the land we are on and the people that were here before us. I am still learning a lot about our country and it’s roots but I am excited to share with you how our celebration will continue to evolve as we learn about our country and it’s history.
Today, I am so excited to welcome Shayla Stonechild to our blog. As a Nehiyaw Iskwew from Muscowpetung First Nations, Shayla, has always been a catalyst towards Indigenous youth unlocking their full potential. By reclaiming their voices, bodies and spirit that have been silenced and stolen throughout history.
I’ll let her take it away!
Tansi, My name is Shayla Stonechild and I am Plains Cree from Muscowpetung First Nation, however, I currently reside on the unceded traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people – also known as Vancouver, BC. I am the founder of the “Matriarch Movement” a platform amplifying indigenous womxn through meditation, movement (yoga) and medicine (reclaiming an Indigenous worldview). I am also a yoga instructor at Vancouver’s newest fitness/social collective, “CMMN GRND” and am currently hosting my third season of APTN’s “Red Earth Uncovered.
Reclaiming our roots requires an uncovering of the darker truths that we have been suppressing – personally and collectively. An acceptance and acknowledgement of our shadow side as a country – which has been woven with patriarchy, white supremacy and genocide against Indigenous People. Canada has been here for 153 years, Indigenous people have been here since time immemorial. You cannot be talking about Black Liberation without talking about Indigenous Sovereignty. It is intersectional. Especially if you’re living on Stolen Land.
When I see the celebration of this country, I see the celebration of the genocide towards Indigenous people. I see the severed treaties that were built on white lies and broken promises. I feel the unearthing of our Mother, being dug up to make way for the pipeline in the name of temporary profit. I taste the poisoned water within our own backyard in First Nations communities. I hear the sound of thousands of native children screaming, from being taken away from their families and put into residential schools against their will. I feel the long ago battles that my ancestors fought in the place I now call home. When I look in the mirror, I see a Missing and Murdered sister in the eyes of my own.
This shift is happening. We are now coming face to face with everything that we have been desperately trying to hide, ignore, and/or suppress. In order to understand the present and form a more humane pathway forward, we first have to educate ourselves on how we got here. We say we want balance and harmony within our lives – but we cannot have balance and harmony without first integrating and becoming aware of the darker aspects within our own psyche. It requires an unveiling of the shadow aspects within ourselves and then as a collective. When you begin to heal yourself, you inevitably invite others to do the same. When you begin to heal the land, you inevitably heal yourself.
We have to move into the resistance, acknowledge it, accept it and then take inspired action to move forward – whether that be from a state of privilege or a state of oppression. The Western worldview is based on fragmentation, individualism and conquest. The Indigenous worldview is based on wholeness, respect, reciprocity and relationship. When we speak in many indigenous languages – it is through a sense of kinship to the world around us. Colonization and capitalism has led us to a state of separation. Separation from the language, the land, each other but also within ourselves. The byproduct has been polarity and fragmentation – first within us and then manifested within the collective.
We must become aware of our own biases and the ways we have been harmed or have caused one another harm. When you begin to view racism as the virus and white supremacy, the patriarchy and genocide as the symptom – you begin to have a more objective view, which creates more understanding for one another’s experience. You begin to uncover the root of the problem. You realize that there can be two different versions of truths and several realities going on; depending on one’s own intention, perception and belief system. We cannot heal the darker aspects of our humanity before we discover those aspects that may have been perpetuated or activated within ourselves. When we can look past the polarity of us. vs. them and witness someone else’s suffering as a part of our own – this will allow us to also see another’s life as one of our own. We must grieve the loss of our own humanity and reclaim what it means to be human. This does not mean spiritually bypassing it or pretending that one another’s experiences or feelings are not valid or do not exist.
It is an invitation for deep listening, learning and unlearning. It requires a turning towards everything that we have been desperately trying to run away from. An acceptance of it all – the grief, the sadness, the confusion, the guilt, the shame. It is through an acceptance where we can begin to process our emotions, reflect on our past, rewire within the present and then come together to reunite. The same energy it takes for destruction is the same energy it takes to birth creation. To breathe a new way of being, a new way of seeing and a new way of living. We are our own medicine, however, we are also each other’s own medicine. We must reclaim our humanity and our relationship to one another and the world around us. This is not a moment in history, this is a movement. How do you want to be remembered?
Instead of celebrating Canada day, I invite you to first educate yourself on our history as a country and the relationship between Canada and the Indigenous People.
You can read:
– “21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act” by Bob Joseph
– “Sacred Instructions” by Sherri Mitchell
I then invite you to think of ways we can move forward towards the path of reconciliation, what that means to you within the present moment and the role you’re currently playing within society. You can also donate to indigenous lead platforms and organizations that are doing the good work.
Platforms/Organizations you can donate to:
The “Matriarch Movement” is an online platform dedicated to honouring our Spirit and our Stolen Sisters through meditation, movement and medicine (reclaiming an Indigenous worldview). It is a platform made by Indigenous Womxn for Indigenous Womxn. Making movement accessible to indigenous people.
PAFNW – Pacific Association of First Nations Women: “To bring our vision into reality, we advocate for systems change and provide Indigenous, culturally safe learning and offer holistic supports to uplift Indigenous women and strengthen families”
Ancestors Future: Future Ancestors Services is an Indigenous and Black-Owned, youth-led professional services social enterprise that advances climate justice and equity with a lens of ancestral accountability.