Why I don’t celebrate National Aboriginal Day

First of all, as stated in the title, this is all personal opinion and is no way putting down or dictating how others should spend this day. How people choose to spend this day is perfect for them and their beliefs. All these are, are my personal thoughts on this day.

There are many reasons why some choose to pride in such a day. It provides space and time for our people to celebrate who they are as a collective across the lands. It gives others the opportunity to experience admiration for oneself and the obstacles we have overcome to get us to where we are today. It allows for the unification of all nations to gather and join in honouring one another through music, dance, culture, and food. 

And these are all important, beautiful ways for our people to celebrate who we are as Indigenous peoples.

However, I choose not to celebrate or be a part of national aboriginal day, and these are the reasons why:

This day was created by the very same colonial government who has been, and continues to, commit forms of genocide and cultural warfare against our peoples and lands, all in the name of oil extraction and money.

This day was discussed and considered from the beginning by the falsely-indigenous, and colonial governance structure, the AFN.  

This day, although idealized by one of our own, carries the same qualities as trudeau’s agenda of reconciliation, and harper’s residential school apology. It comes with a sense of dictation and authority from the colonizer whereas they feel they should benefit, and even be given thanks for “allowing” us and “giving us” this day to celebrate our indigeneity.

This day possesses a term by which the colonizer has labelled us and will continue to label us, carrying the same connotations as the word “savage,” just phrased in a more politically correct way. And again, they’re changing it to “Indigenous” to make it seem as though they are our new best friends, to follow through with their “new nation to nation relationship,” which shouldn’t exist in the first place due to the fact that our treaties are between us as nations and the crown, not Canada, nor should this new relationship be seen as any means a new form of our treaty relationship with the Crown.

This is the colonial government’s way to state that they are following through with the recommendations made in the TRC report, even though it is the only recommendation they followed through with of the 94 made in total.

This day is celebrated with pow-wow dancing, music, and food. Which is beautiful and I so love seeing our people in this form. However, the opportunity exists for our people to focus on our liberation and collectivity to overcome oppression. Spending time and energy on these items would benefit the cause at a deeper level.

Canadians are only seeing our culture, on this day, as stated above. Powwow dancing, drumming, singing, and eating. The conversations that need to happen are being lost. And these settlers who are attending a National Aboriginal Day event are automatically seeing themselves as an ally. Yet if the time came to fight on the front lines by our side, with the real work, I am sure most of those allies would be on the side of their own.

June is National Aboriginal History Month, as put forward by NDP member Jean Crowder in 2009. Again, this agenda is lost in the greater colonial spectrum. And again, it comes from a place of the colonizer “granting” Indigenous people’s this gift. When I’m reality, the whole year is based on Indigenous peoples of these lands due to the fact that those colonizers are still settlers on our territories.

It is a day to celebrate, for settlers to learn from us, yet at the same time, as I always say, we would never see Trudeau or an every day settler set foot on a reserve in the dead of winter during our day to day life and struggles. If so, it is rare. These people only show up during times of celebration, when we do our best to show them who we are.

The only other times we see white faces in our communities and on our territories is when they are extracting resources from our homelands, when they are making a monetary deal with the chief, when they are operating like present day Indian agents, and perhaps when one or two of them shack up with someone on the Rez. 

Equality for indigenous peoples in “Canada” to the colonizer is our people identifying themselves and living their lives as Canadians. Therefore directly boycotting their lineages, accepting, defending, and giving in to colonization directly.

Because this day is created by colonial systems it can very well be “taken away” by those colonial systems. But the question is, will that make us stop celebrating who we are and where we come from? No.

Right now we are living in very critical times where many of our peoples are applauding the government’s (ie: Trudeau’s) efforts in this “new nation to nation relationship.” Yet the more our people applaud him, the more we are accepting our demise handed down by him with his nice hair and white smile. His words today of renaming “National Aboriginal Day” to “National Indigenous People’s Day” shows just how much false power he has over defining and dictating identities for our people. This renaming of this day is not something that should be celebrated, because as he does that, he is lining his pockets with resources that could solve many crises in our communities. 

To me, National Aboriginal day is the day for Aboriginal-Canadians.

Not for nehiyaw, anishinaabe peoples.

National Aboriginal Day is a day where Indigenous peoples are again attempting to reclaim space (the space being this colonially created day) in a colonially created system rather than attempting to rebuild space in indigenous systems.

What we need is to recognize that we can celebrate ourselves authentically, openly, and unapologetically every year, every season, every day, focusing on our liberation, pride, truth, healing, and nationhood, especially in the middle of the -40 degree Celsius winters so our young people know that suicide is no longer an option.  

We need to tell those settlers who claim that they are allies to know that just because they come to a powwow and have an Indian taco and buy a pair of moccasins from a vendor does not make them “in” with us. 

And we need to know that if the colonial government did not create this day, following the voices of the AFN, our pride would be just as strong, just as loud, and just as truthful.

Because we do not need a day designated and dictated by the colonizer to know who we are and where we come from. 

All we need is to do is break colonial minds, colonial spaces, and colonial fragility with indigenous disobedience. 

And most importantly: A revolution can only happen once our people no longer defend & maintain colonial systems & when we no longer strive for colonial approval. 

When we only need ourselves for our continued existence rather than this colonial dictation and dependence. That will be the day we will truly rise.

Happy Summer solstice- may we celebrate all this season will bring us in regards to food, health, and our own liberation.

This Reconciliation is for the Colonizer

This reconciliation is for the colonizer. 

This settler-colonial reconciliation branded by the government is artificially sweetened with handshake photo-ops and small pockets of money buying out silence on real issues.

The fad and conversation of reconciliation that our people are playing a role in is immobilizing “leadership” and converting indigenous peoples into colonially operated marionettes.

This type of reconciliation is a distraction. 

Instead of being idle no more, we are “reconciling some more” with present day Indian act agents whose hands are choking out our voices for land, water, and our children’s minds. 

This type of reconciliation is for the ones who want to be “friends” with the Indians for land commodification reasoning, for the ones who whisper the words “im sorry” as they watched the priests and nuns rape our children, for the ones who shut their eyes and turned away when genocide was bleeding into their forts, for the ones who defy Treaty daily- without remorse, and it’s for the ones who beat you, apologize, and beat your daughter and their daughters in the coming years.

This type of reconciliation is for the professors at universities who are pro-Trudeau and believe “decolonizing” universities looks like mandatory Indigenous studies classes yet those very same professors still belittle, marginalize, and see themselves better than, smarter than, and superior to every indigenous student in their classes, shaming them for their brown skin and indigenous minds.

This type of reconciliation is for the professionals in work-spaces who want to aid in repairing the settler-Indigenous relationship in their work places but when an Indigenous women brings her children into that space because her sitter didn’t show up that morning, the mother will be told that her children need to leave because they’re laughter doesn’t line up with colonial workplace standards.

This type of reconciliation helps elderly white woman carry their groceries to their vehicle, but later follows a single indigenous woman with 3 children in the store, aisle after aisle, under the suspicion that she will shoplift.

This type of reconciliation will have dollars for moccasin making and small “cultural” events, but those accounts will be “out of money” the moment those events begin to engage in conversations and action around indigenous liberation, sovereignty, and nationhood.

This type of reconciliation sponsors powwows through companies like Potash and Shell, hoping the 1000 first place special will buy out a few hundred acres of indigenous land more easily.

This type of reconciliation claims residential schools are over but maintains a superior and oppressive power dynamic between settler adults and indigenous children at its own convenience.

This type of reconciliation declares “no foul play” to the bodies of young indigenous youth found in the riverbanks in this country’s most racist cities but later claims they celebrate the lives of indigenous peoples.

This type of reconciliation organizes a national inquiry for missing and murdered indigenous women but neglects to do any actual work by configuring the timeframe to benefit the colonizer and showing that bringing justice to murdered indigenous women is something that can go on summer vacation.

This type of reconciliation invents a “new nation to nation relationship” and teaches our people that the only way we can access our treaty rights is if we have a status card, completely negating from the truth that we, as indigenous peoples, do not need a new “nation to nation relationship,” as ours is with the crown “as long as the sun shines, grass grows, and water flows,” and those status cards have nothing to do with our treaty rights.

This type of reconciliation was born by the colonizer’s TRC and will die on the very same shelves as those documents in the halls and walls of colonial buildings. For their benefit.

This type of reconciliation claims they are not racist but makes degrading comments about the braids on your sons and the skin of your daughters in public spaces.

This type of reconciliation will say it wants to bring justice to our women but is raping the very land our mothers were birthed on for generations. 

This type of reconciliation will say there are no funds for following through with Jordan’s principle, none for the lack of clean drinking water in communities, zero for decreasing the price of food in northern communities, and nothing for the mouldy housing and schools that indigenous children must learn in everyday, but will spend half a billion dollars on Canada 150 – a birthday party founded and based upon genocide.

This type of reconciliation claims to “love” indigenous peoples but expects your indigenous child to sing “oh Canada” in their classroom every morning, standing up.

This type of reconciliation is “making space” for indigenous peoples in writing and editorials but later compiles money together to create an appropriation prize.

This type of reconciliation is “putting an end” to indigenous young people killing themselves but only provides enough money for communities to bring in guest speakers and concerts rather than full time therapists equipped with all the tools needed to aid young people in full-blown crisis. 

This type of reconciliation “seeks” to decrease the numbers of indigenous peoples in the criminal justice system but will place a young indigenous male in solitary confinement for 4 years for no real reason other than being an Indian in “Canada.” 

This type of reconciliation wants to build better relationships with indigenous peoples but is building better ways to commit treason, genocide, colonization, and prejudice with nice hair and a smile of lies.

This reconciliation is for the colonizers. 

This is a time of pseudo-reconciliation for continued colonization.

This reconciliation is colonization, disguised with dollar signs and white-skinned handshakes. 

This reconciliation is not our reconciliation. 

Because.

The only reconciliation that exists for us, as Indigenous nations, is the reconciliation we need to find within ourselves and our communities, for agreeing and complying to this madness for so long. 

The only reconciliation that exists for us, is the reconciliation needed to forgive our families, our loved ones, for acting like the colonizer.

The only reconciliation we need. Is a reconciliation that doesn’t involve white skinned handshakes and five dollar handouts for our lands.

The only reconciliation we need is indigenous reconciliation. Free of money. Handshakes. Photo-ops. Inquiries with summer vacations. The continued rape of our women, our girls, our lands, and our babies. Highway of tears and roadways of fears. The continued murder of our women, our girls, our lands, and our babies. Free of shaming our boys out for being indigenous boys with indigenous hair. Free of shaming our girls for being indigenous girls with indigenous skin. Free of support for the colonizer’s version of indigenous “culture,” yet no support money for liberation. Free of supremacy. Trickery. Fake it til you make it syndrome. Indian agents. Sir John A Macdonald governments disguised as Trudeau. Colonial chiefs. Free of the continued manipulation, colonization, degradation, and humiliation of Indigenous people. Free of colonially written documents claiming to “save” us, viewing us always, as victims. Free of the lyrics of Oh Canada for breakfast for our children. 

Instead of us living in times of reconciliation, we are living in times of recolonization. 

And it will only happen if we allow it.

This reconciliation is for the colonizer. And we need to leave this conversation. 

We need to reconcile with ourselves. With our families. With our nations.

For our babies. 

Because I want our children to to learn about our own liberation, rather than the colonizer’s reconciliation. 

And I want our children to know that 
Indigenous liberation will always overthrow colonial reconciliation. 

Because having our homelands is more important to me than a photo-op and handshake with government officials named Trudeau. 

Artwork by: Votan Henriquez 

Wasted Energy on the Battles Against Appropriation and Racism: Indigenous Systems are Resistance

“Let’s raise our children to fall in love with indigenous systems rather than attempting to destroy colonial systems from within.”

I say this because our babies need to know what is important. They need to know what will truthfully keep us alive in the long run. I say this because everything we are fighting in colonial systems rather than building up in our own systems is an example of us wasting our own resources. I say this because I do not want my grandchildren to think that a “dream job” at the UN is worth more than knowing how to fend for themselves on their homelands.

We spend more time & energy fighting appropriation, oppression, and racism in the colonial structures that they are built and thrive upon than we do re-learning and rebuilding Indigenous systems.

Imagine if we put the energy that we use in trying to convince, change, challenge, and confront colonial systems and instead used that very same energy on reestablishing, restoring, revitalizing, and regenerating indigenous systems. 

The battle against things like appropriation, racism, what the government is, or is not, doing in regards to mmiw, residential school documents/stories, and notions of having indigenous pre-requisites in universities, what a government official said about indigenous peoples, and girls wearing headdresses at music festivals are all things that can be deemed as injustices, offensive in nature, forms of inequality, and downright discrimination. 

However, we fight and battle these things with all of our energy, some of us even becoming emotionally exhausted because of it. We even allow it to impact our mental health to the point of anxiety, depression, and even suicide. We fully drain ourselves all in the name of justice and equality.

The truth is: this energy that we are utilizing for these injustices could be used for so much more for our people. 

Yes, it is important to stand up against something wrong, to make ourselves heard, to be present to the realities of what colonialism is attempting to do around us. But we must spend more energy on our own systems. 

Because truthfully, we cannot and will not change colonialism. Colonialism will always act like, operate as, thrive upon, and respond as exactly that. Colonialism. So why do we expect any different or act surprised, infuriated, or dismayed when colonizers act like Sir John A Macdonald and Christopher Columbus? Anything that originates or was created by colonizers, will carry all the same characteristics as said colonizer. Colonialism will always be colonialism

There should only be two exceptions as to why one fights this hard against any of these aforementioned injustices. 

1. When it defies or undermines treaty in any way, shape or form, or 

2. When it leads to an unjust death.

Otherwise, we must begin to think about conserving and preserving and utilizing our energy and resources into indigenous systems. Whether that be indigenous education, natural law, land based learning and loving, traditional kinship and parenting, language revitalization, and medicinal health. 

If we cared as much about any one of these areas as we do when a settler commits a social and political injustice on our people, oh my how we would flourish.

If a Twitterstorm that lasted days on end based on “practices healthy indigenous families follow” or “what a land based school can do for our children,” rather than “how the colonizer fucked up again, and I am so shocked, and here’s what I have to say about it,” our systems would make a comeback so prominent, that our grandchildren would never have known the colonized lives we are living today. 

If indigenous activists practiced land-based relationship building and deconstructing nepotism in communities rather than placing all their energy in a rally against a new and improved “founding father” and their legislation, then our babies would grow up knowing that the best way to grow up is with mud on their boots from the knowledge of how to grow their own food and valuing the sanctity of kinship.

The peculiar thing about indigenous peoples fighting with all their life force in order to gain some form of respect or a place in colonial systems such as with a case of appropriation, or even mandatory indigenous studies classes in academia. The very things we are battling are also what we are fighting so hard to be a fair and equal part of.

It’s like we are saying “hey! we hate colonialism…..but we want equal and fair participation with colonialism and all the systems colonialism has created. And we also want to be recognized by the colonizer as an Indigenous person in their spaces. Because that means that I am respected. And therefore makes me feel worthy.”

Holy shit!

Let’s change this rhetoric to “hey! colonialism is destroying our lives. Let’s no longer be a part of it. We need to rebuild our relationship with our lands and families and all the systems our people and lands created. And we only need to be recognized by our own. Because that means I’m part of a sovereign nation.”

Now, when an action of the colonizer completely disrespects treaty or takes the life of our own, that is when knowing how and when our systems as indigenous peoples operates would be the most effective response.

For example, if they attempt to take away our right to education (in Treaty it is described as the “power of the pen”) which, let us clarify here, is not academia. It is simply, education. Academia is the colonizers watered down, ego-induced version of education. Education is what our right is. 

So the colonizer attempts to control how we choose to educate our people and says “you can’t do that. That’s not academics. It’s against our academic system. You will not graduate from the education system. You also owe us 1500 dollars for attending our classes. Because you can’t afford it, you are kicked out.” If we knew our systems thoroughly, and practiced them as such, we could reply with “we are our own people. Your laws are irrelevant to us. And we will educate our own as stated in treaty, as long as the sun shines, grass grows, and water flows. Without what the colonizers created: academia. We will learn based on the land and based on the knowledge of the ones from long ago. Indigenous Education is free. Colonial academia is not.” Our children and young people would then begin relearning, reestablishing, restoring, revitalizing, and regenerating indigenous systems rather than losing self-esteem and self-worth due to being on the front lines of colonial academia.

The reality is there has been thousands of little white girls dressing up as Indian “chiefs” for over a hundred years.
There has been an insurmountable amount of teachers and professors stating that these lands were “found,” and the cowboys never murdered the Indians and their babies.
There has been a multitude of cases of indigenous appropriation from Victoria’s Secret, to Boyden, to boutique moccasins made in China.
And because of this…
There has been hundreds of rallies and protests and runs across these lands to fight colonial legislation.

There have been countless petitions and speeches in parliament and meetings with prime ministers all in the name of equality for indigenous peoples on their own lands.
And there have been an array of articles on how and why we can become equal and gain justice in these colonial systems.

 
Yes. These things are great for awareness. But that’s where it ends. There is no real change when one befriends/battles colonial systems in order to attempt to achieve indigenous equality and greatness. An indigenous person battling in a colonial system simply becomes an indigenous person serving in a colonial system. 

Rather than servants to the cause they become servants to colonialism.

There was a moment in my life where I knew I no longer wanted to fight for equality and justice in colonial systems. It was when I knew I was lying to my ancestors and my grandchildren concurrently, and I felt it in the pit of my stomach. I was lying to them by thinking I could create change in colonial systems, I was lying to them by shaking hands with Stephen Harper and envisioning a better future. I was lying to them when I sat in a national office as a program officer, streamlining federal dollars to hundreds of organizations who desperately needed it for their young people, and concluded that this, right here, was what positive change looked and felt like. I was lying to them when I drilled and questioned government officials at the UN, with tears in my eyes and fear in my throat, imagining that my pleas and words would be strong enough to get these officials to deliver the equality thousands of indigenous young women needed in their communities. 

My body told me. I was lying to my ancestors and my future grandchildren. By believing. Believing that I could kill colonialism inside a colonial system.

Colonial systems continues the pattern of colonial cycles. 

Colonialism will always act like, operate as, thrive upon, and respond as exactly that. Colonialism. Colonialism will always be colonialism.

It’s time to tell truths to our ancestors and future grandbabies.

Tell them the truth. The truth being that rather than placing all of our energy in appropriation scandals, academic racism and university elitism, what MLAs and MPs said and what they did and did not do, a headdress being worn by a blond head and made in China moccasins, we must put our energy into our own systems.

Grow a garden, plant some wildflowers, and put your body on the land to maintain indigenous land based education and to begin to understand the basics of natural law. 
Learn a word or phrase a day. To rekindle your relationship with your language. To remember what it’s like to live mino bimaadiziwin. 
Spend time with an aunty, a kokum, or in another community, and learn one ailment that one plant can cure. It may be useful down the line. 

And most importantly:

Forgive your mother. Or your father. Even if they’re dead. Even if it’s during the moments of their last breath. To revitalize that kinship model. To honour your ancestors and future grandchildren. 

To tell the truth to your ancestors and future grandchildren.

“Let’s raise our children to fall in love with indigenous systems rather than attempting to destroy colonial systems from within.”

 Art by: Melanie Cervantes

To the Iskwesis/Young Ones with Brown Skin:

A reminder to all the kwezens/iskwesis and young ones with brown skin,

You no longer need to be on the brink of critical mental health crisis due to the struggle and battle against colonial systems and oppression.

You no longer need to be in deep pits of anxiety attacks, exhaustion and depression due to the constant battle against misogynistic morales and indigenous men and women fighting them like the colonizer themselves.

You no longer need to get exhausted, angry, and even physically sick for attempting to fight and dismantle patriarchy, colonialism, misogyny, oppression, and injustice.

You no longer need to walk through hallways with clenched fists and gritted teeth, preparing yourselves to battle colonialism as you weave your way through school, medical systems, and your non-indigenous job sites.

You no longer need to drive yourselves to points of anxiety, depression, and sometimes even suicide as you attempt to be social-justice warriors and freedom from oppression fighters in systems that breed everything you are fighting against.

You are medicine for your families, communities, and nations for you are our future mothers, aunties, kokums, matriarchs, and you are medicine as whoever you define yourself to be, in a time where practicing the expression of your self-identity is critical in the resistance against colonialism and misogyny.

Never forget iskwesis/kwezens:

You carry identical self and inner power as those did generations before you.
You possess similar DNA to the ones who resisted and defended your homelands to ensure your feet could still first touch the ground on those same lands.
Your existence is the living manifestation of hundreds of thousands of prayers from matriarchs and kokums.

You are a conduit of your ascendant’s devotion, rage, and commitment to the cause – carry yourself as such.

You have the potential to grow nations and embed liberation to those who will exist hundreds of years from now.

You have a fierce strength that can provide you all the tools necessary to commit to a healthy lifestyle as long as you look for the right guidance.
You have the force to disassemble and obliterate white male dominance with the fierceness in your smile and fearlessness in your words.

You are not a victim.

You are not a survivor.

You are the truth.
You are the truth of resurgence, self-liberation, and an undeniable, wildly unapologetic, deep self-love as you aid in the restoration of ourselves from colonial systems into the true nehiyaw, anishinaabe peoples we are in the systems that continuously provides sustenance to ourselves and our livelihoods

You are a defender of the land, a protector of the waters, and a combatant against colonialism. 

You are love.

You are sacrifice.
You are beautiful brown skin.
You are our resurgence.

You are our resistance.
You are the most feared weapon against a white privileged male, and all you have to do is breathe.

You are our heroes.

I love you.

We love you.

The land. Loves you.

To the young brown skinned indigenistas, warrioristas, rebels, truthseekers/truthleaders, and rule breakers,

If you find yourself battling in colonial systems, becoming sick, filled with anxiety, and on the brink of mental collapse, remember- no one can take on a system, change a system, or dismantle systemic values steeped in oppression, misogyny and colonialism if that is what that system was founded on, and if that is how that system is maintained.

Instead, 

Breathe. Rest. Eat. Take care of yourself first. You are important. You are deserving. 

And most importantly, re-energize yourself by practicing sovereignty over your colonially-resistant body by saying “no” and teaching that same word to your children, nieces, or nephews- for it is a word of decolonial resistance, a word to be known as a renegade against colonialism, a word that your skin and tongue will become best friends with- all in the name of loving yourself and loving your people.

To all the brown skinned revolutionaries with red lipstick or fire cracker eyes-

You are the human manifesto of the old ones prayers. 

To the cinnamon-skinned compañeras of the cause,
Nourish, strengthen and love your beautiful, strong indigenous body and nourish, strengthen and love beautiful and strong indigenous systems. 

Your life is as important as the livelihood of the land and as the lives of the old ones before you.

Stay strong. 

Stay beautiful.

 Stay proud

of your brown skin. 
Photo by: Melanie Cervantes

The Rage of the Privileged vs The Rage of the Oppressed

The rage of the privileged will never surmount to the rage of the oppressed. As much as it convinces itself it does. As much as it portrays itself to be. As much as it self-victimizes it self in pursuit of.

Here’s why:

The rage of the privileged thrives off of the false idea that they are exempt from wrong-doings and not responsible when committing injustice.

The rage of the privileged gives excuses and self-proclaimed righteousness in the murder and victimization of the oppressed.

The rage of the privileged holds self-legitimization and “we are the real victim” discourse as a reason to commit treason and acts of barbarianism against indigenous bodies and treaty lands.

The rage of the privileged is the outcome of settler children being raised completely and utterly by colonialism in the cobweb of confusion that makes up their systems.

The rage of the privileged carries generations of guiltless blood on their hands and hundreds of years of slaughter all in the name of “safety, protection, and freedom.”

The rage of the privileged is little white boys and girls being told since infancy that they are better than society, more than the land, and above karmic and spiritual law when they commit wrongdoings against others.

The rage of the privileged is a system on the brink of collapse forcibly by the rage of the oppressed.

Because the truth is, the rage of the privileged will never surmount to the rage of the oppressed.

The rage of the oppressed thrives off of the reality that we are responsible for bringing justice to injustice and truth to falsities.

The rage of the oppressed whole-heartedly resists and battles against those who committed wrong-doings, murder, and victimization on our own.

The rage of the oppressed maintains accountability and can completely discredit the settler’s “we are the real victim” discourse, therefore resisting all acts of treason and barbarianism against indigenous bodies and treaty lands.

The rage of the oppressed is the outcome of indigenous children being surrounded completely and utterly by colonialism in the cobweb of confusion that makes up settler systems and knowing who they are and where they come from amongst it all.

The rage of the oppressed carries retaliations against the generations of genocide on their lands and hundreds of years of slaughter all in the name of colonially created “safety, protection, and freedom.”

The rage of the oppressed is indigenous children being told by the privileged, since infancy, that they are less than society, less than the land, and below karmic and spiritual law when they commit wrongdoings against others by. And still standing up against it. Day in, and day out.

But the truth of it all?

The rage of the oppressed stems from the love for the people and the cause and because of this the rage of the oppressed will always be stronger than the rage of the privileged.

The rage of the oppressed knows that it is a rage founded and grounded on stories of the land and made of deep familial lineages.

The rage of the oppressed can start a bloody revolution, but instead it waits, and chooses to raise children with the intelligence and confidence of indigenous nationhood and liberation.

The rage of the oppressed knows that they can choose to no longer being oppressed simply by dissolving the story from the privileged in their own lives and existence.

Indigenous peoples know their stories of oppression, our children know our stories of victimization, the lands on which we live, play, and grow on know the stories of genocide, yet the thing that can destroy all of these stories and more

Is the love we have for our people, the liberation we crave for our communities, and the nationhood we need for our survival.

The rage of the privileged will never surmount to the rage of the oppressed because the rage of the oppressed can completely, utterly, and ultimately discredit and destroy a story that was never our own to begin with:

The story of being oppressed.

20 Acts to Celebrate the Love of the Resistance & How to Devote Yourself to the Cause- Choosing Revolutionary Love Instead of Canada150

150+ years of colonialism, colonization, genocide, attempted assimilation, racism, murder, rape, and the vehement hate for our people by a so-called “nation.”

It is a very influential space and time in which we are living and our Indigenous children are being born in this very significant time. They are being born as witnesses to their parents responses to the continued colonial tactics on the lands and territories on which they reside. They are being born in a space where the possibility of creatively manifesting Indigenous liberation and serving the cause are two paramount processes which are unfolding before their very eyes. They are being born as physical examples and answers to our ancestors prayers. They are our continued prayers. Indigenous children that are born today have the opportunity to recognize their ability to stand in, and live in, their own Indigenous liberation rather than colonial agendas. They are the ones who can be raised by parents that never entered the halls of a residential school.

The Indigenous children born today are born at a time where their very breath and existence is a means for celebration. For they are our old one’s living prayers.

There was a point in time in Indigenous civilizations where the coming together of the peoples lead to tactical plans to defend, preserve, and resist all systems and symptoms of colonialism before they even left the minds and mouths of the colonizer themselves. Today, the opposite is occurring. We have collectively self-actualized a negligent response time to colonial paradigms, therefore only responding to colonially created crisis and events after they happen.

Where does this leave us? It leaves us in a colonial crossfire completely unarmed and unprotected. This maintenance and prioritization of colonial systems and symptoms provides space for our own systems to be subservient to our own indigenous existence.
An example of this is seen as in the agenda of “Canada150.” We, as Indigenous peoples, and Indigenous parents specifically, are focusing on how to resist “Canada150” rather than the more important question of “what should we be celebrating in our lives in order to re-situate ourselves in liberation, sovereignty, and nationhood as the land changes?”

The dialogue that our children and young people need to hear during this time should originate around our own successes, the things we are grateful for, and the love that we have for all those before us who resisted for our own existence.

Instead of #Canada150 we need to talk about and practice the ways that we practice falling in love with the resistance and our methods of devoting ourselves to the cause. Some of these actions and practices of love for the resistance and devotion to the cause look like:

-The generations of powerful matriarchs who prepared us to fundamentally and intelligently succeed in the ongoing battles of revolutionizing ourselves and our peoples.
-Our ancestor’s resistance to all forms of colonialism, even if it lead to their extermination, exclusively for the sake of their unborn grandchildren.
-The Indigenous art-creators, songbirds, laugh-makers, story weavers, movement builders, motion orchestrators, and metamorphosis coaches resurrecting the fires that burn within us and within the lands and territories in which we are born from.
-Reconciliation being an extinct term in our vernacular because it has become a habitual practice in our daily lives, specifically between other nations.
-Indigenous children being celebrated as they are born on their lands and territories.
-Liberated Indigenous families resuscitating a kinship model that is fully committed to land based practices, authenticity, and revolutionary love.
-Indigenous feminism founded in the land, practiced by the grandmothers, and interwoven in the thousands of descendants that are to follow simply because that is who we are.
-Moshums and kokums gracing the lives of, and instilling knowledge in, their own future generations completely unrestrained from colonial ideals of family relationships.
-Indigenous children able to freely express themselves safely within their own homes.
-Indigenous birthing practices unbound and free from colonial dominance
-Mother tongues slicing through formerly forbidden domains, as the words drip down walls of rooms and buildings that have attempted to extinct them.
-The knives of our forefathers being lodged into the heart of colonialism so as to reaffirm our dignity and strength as Indigenous peoples.
-Indigenous children growing up in homes void of residential school residue and colonial pain.
-Motherhood, fatherhood, and their direct influence in childhood consciously recognized as the fundamental role in ending all forms of colonization.
-A sustained relationship with wild game founded on homage and subservience to the animal’s life-cycle for our sustenance.
-Indigenous peoples conducting themselves in adherence to their role in the treaty relationship, and highly disputing the human behaviours which are fundamentally sacrilegious to treaty.
-The terms “Raped” and “Murdered” no longer being the only phraseology to describe “indigenous women” in media.
-Healthy Indigenous women overthrowing colonialism, patriarchy, misogyny, violence, rape, and murder all in the name of self-love and the generations of babies on their way.
-Indigenous fathers relearning how to be fathers in a landscape that attempted to destroy the Indigenous father.
And lastly
-Indigenous Peoples falling in love with themselves, their ways and their lands over and over and over again as the resurgence untangles itself from the colonial shame and post-forbidden ways of existing as a Nehiyaw, Anishinaabe, and every other nation. Indigenous children knowing 100% that they are loved, and they can become love, simply by being.

Instead of #Canada150 we need to talk about and practice the ways that we practice falling in love with the resistance and our methods of devoting ourselves to the cause.

For our children, and our grandchildren.

Because this is all for them.
Image by: Melanie Cerventes

The Revolution of Indigenous Motherhood

Motherhood- the most difficult yet rewarding experience of a woman’s life. From the moment of giving birth (whether it goes as one desires, or the complete opposite) to the sleepless nights and napless days, the truth is- motherhood is what one chooses to make of it. Yet, that is just the surface. Underneath that comes layers of responsibilities and actions which hold decisions as to what the future will look like for Indigenous peoples, based on how a mother chooses to raise, and love, her child(ren).

The truth is, Indigenous motherhood can be the restoration of nationhood, it can be the key to melting the colonial mould of what motherhood should be and restoring it with the truth of what Indigenous motherhood is. Indigenous motherhood is void of all the behaviours that have trickled down from residential school trauma, genocide, missing and murdered indigenous women, the sixties scoop, and racism. It is void of these things not because of ignorance, but because Indigenous motherhood is choosing to raise our child(ren) from a place of Indigenous love. With this comes transformative healing within ourselves to recognize that in order to be a mother- we must heal. We must destroy the systemic cycles that have been forced upon us as a peoples and re-create a resurgence of our own systems- in order for our children to determine their true identities as they grow. This would look like implementing land-based practices into a child’s everyday life, or ensuring that a child grows up knowing where their feet first touched the ground and where home truly is. By continuously practicing Indigenous norms over colonial norms, children will be deeply rooted in their existence as an Indigenous person and the colonial system will, hopefully, fall away.

Over the last few generations, Indigenous mothers have raised and prepared their children on how to survive in a colonial way of living rather than how to thrive in Indigenous way of being. With that can come fear-based parenting, and pain-based parenting. Fear-based parenting in this instance would look like Indigenous mothers telling their daughters, no matter the age, to always be on the lookout for predators as they, being an Indigenous girl or young woman, will always be a target for violence and possibly murder. Pain-based parenting would look like Indigenous mothers projecting years of their own violent lives, deriving from colonialism, onto their children through emotional and physical abuse as well as shame and humiliation tactics that these mothers learned through colonial systems. Fear-based and pain-based parenting in this context can be an inter-generational passing down of deconstructive, colonially created ways in which parents discipline, reward, and view their relationship with their children.

Indigenous mothers now have to make a very diligent, and critical choice to raise their children to thrive in an Indigenous paradigm. It is still paramount that young Indigenous girls, and women, are taught self-defence and safety, yet it is more imperative that these children learn why and how colonial systems operate in order to continue to attempt to subordinate their peoples, how and why colonialism unfolded and attempted to destroy their peoples, and how their peoples resisted and survived in order for them to be alive today. It is imperative that rather than mothers teaching daughters to be on the look out for predators, which is a preventative measure based on an outcome of colonialism which brands them to be victims prior to anything happening, mothers teach daughters to be on the lookout of any form of self-victimization in all areas of their lives, which is an empowerment tool, teaching daughters to stand in their own power prior to anything happening. Now, that’s not to say that our daughters will no longer become victims if they choose to personally void victimhood in their lives, yet if I grew up knowing what I deserved and my worthiness, rather than in an upbringing steeped heavily in parenting operating in a place of abusive colonial outcomes, I would not have stayed in an abusive relationship as long as I did, therefore I would not have been raped at the end of that relationship. When we remind our daughters of the strength, and the generations of resiliency and self-love before them, is when we will see real change. The truth is, when we teach our children about the deception that colonialism is, we are giving them the tools to disentangle and destroy roots that they will constantly be falsely told are their own in mainstream society. These children will then be the seeds which will be planted free of colonial residue and pain with the promise to grow in the awareness of true sovereignty, nationhood, and self-empowerment steeped in indigenous truth which will ultimately trickle down in their own parenting and within the future generations of our peoples.

Indigenous based child-rearing is the key to destroying suicide in our young people, to ending the numbers of crimes our children are committing in our communities, to deconstructing the normalized cycles of drug and alcohol abuse in our pre-teens, and to altering everything we think we know about parenting in present day colonialism. Indigenous based child-rearing in today’s generation resides in watching the restoration of unfaltering kinship in our Indigenous family systems unfold and allowing that to reside in the raising of our children with the knowing of who they are, and where they come from, wildly and unapologetically. It is found in recognizing the power in being a mother as an Indigenous woman- as children were the route the colonizer chose for termination- we now have a responsibility to raise our children as the route for restoring nationhood and revolutionizing communities. We are protectors and defenders of who we are and where we come from- undoing hundreds of years of colonization through the very practice of child-rearing. Indigenous based child-rearing in today’s generation resides in following the lead of your child. It resides in the wildness of love, and providing your child, no matter the age, the space for unapologetic emotion. Which means being continuously aware of the words you choose to use with your child. Acknowledge that your child, even your newborn, has the capacity to understand their own bodies. Appraise their cries to show them that yes, even at a few weeks old, it is truly okay to feel and express emotions. Through this we can begin to guide our children to consistently and confidently self-liberate, which will subsequently and ultimately lead to the liberation of our peoples as a whole. Indigenous based child-rearing is found in raising our children to understand the crisis at hand and to teach them how to move through it in revolutionary ways. It is found in teaching our children, from the youngest of ages, the sanctity of treaty, and the sacrifices made from generations before in order to keep those promises in place today. It is found in decrying the privilege that is now seen in young activists as they lay claim to creating change for our people, and instead teaching them about the real revolutionaries. It is found in teaching our children that it isn’t our job to restore, or even rebuild, our nationhood, it is our job to strengthen our nationhood- as it eternally exists alongside treaty.

Motherhood, in itself, can be the most difficult yet rewarding experience of a woman’s life. From the moment of giving birth (whether it goes as one desires, or the complete opposite) to the sleepless nights and napless days, the truth is- motherhood is what one chooses to make of it. Yet Indigenous motherhood is the ultimate weapon in destroying colonialism, through the tenderness, and wildness, of Indigenous truth and love