Good morning everyone!
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 country’s 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 its 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
– The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission & Calls To Action
– The Final Report of the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
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.
Beautiful truth Shayla. I surely need to spend this Canada Day learning more. Thank you for sharing your heart, and also those resources ♥️
❤️ Beautiful, eloquent, powerful and so important. Thank-you for sharing Shayla!
This was so powerful. Thank you team Jilly and Shayla for this blog post. I will be purchasing those pieces of literature and relearning the truth of our history that isn’t written in a way to favour our white ancestors.
I love all of this! Thank you for sharing your perspective, Shayla. I hope people take your words to heart. I have a lot of learning to do and I so appreciate you pointing me in the right direction. 💚
Shayla, thank you for every single word.
Especially this reminder: “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? “
Jillian & Team thank you for making space for this.
Thank you Shayla for your message I was particularly affected by your request to “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.” And removing the them vs us polarity. Thank you again.
Hey Shayla and the Jilly team,
My name is Stephanie and I am Ojibway from Chimnissing Ontario. I am an Indigenous Blogger/Influencer and I cannot tell you how amazing it was to see this shared today. It’s a topic we need to be sharing about and talking about way more often. Today I shared my thoughts on Canada Day over on IG, and I made a pledge to not be silent anymore.
This was such a fantastic post to read today! Thank you Shayla for your words and knowledge. Thanks Team Jilly for using your platform in this way.
Thank you! I started the morning sending of a silly Meme to my son who is teaching English in Japan. It was about to describe Canada Day to an American and it was mostly light hearted and silly. From there I stumble. On Jillians story this morning and my day took a big turn. I immediately looked up and can now say that I live, work and play on the tread up all and unceded territory of the Musqeuam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. I immediately sent this story to my son, and said “this is what you should share with the kids”. I had an uncomfortable albeit open conversation with my partner about our white privilege and ignorance to the history of the aboriginal people of this land. I had another in-depth conversation with two of my longest dearest friends about the same thing as the visited me while recover from surgery. I have just finished reading this article and won’t try know and will learn more. For me this has been a true Canada day where my heart and eyes have been opened . Thank you for this and all of the information and stories.
This was beautifully written. My grandparents are Mapuche, Indigenous people of the now known as Chile. With you, I am learning so much on being allies and finding forms of creating better tomorrows. I am thankful for your life and courage to speak on behalf of your community Shayla. Thank you Jillian for encouraging this important and a little bit uncomfortable conversation to occur in your platform. I look forward to more posts like this!
I love everything about this!
Thank you for your courage to speak.
So beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and opening our eyes and giving ways to act. This is a time to challenge our beliefs – what we have been told – and move to a place of new truth, listening, supporting and understanding and action. I love the way you compare the Western view with the indigenous world view. The latter sounds so much better and I will strive to share that message and internalize it!
Hiy hiy Shayla for sharing such powerful beautiful words. You captured so much in a brief blog.
You are a talented writer.
As a mixed woman Metis and Black I appreciate this blog and the education to those who may not understand.
Beautiful words. Thank you for leading this important change and healing and giving guidance to learn, listen, and grow.
We have a lot of work to do as Canadians to better know the other Canadians. I hope we can meet and know and learn and befriend you Native Peoples.
I will start to read the books you have suggested.. All the Best for a better Canada!