Although I am sure many of you have been hanging on with bated breath to hear more about why I identify as an Inter-Cultural Professional since the release of Blog 2. At this poignant time in history, I would like to use this forum to offer something possibly more relevant and desirable to my readers.
Over the last several weeks and months, the non-Indigenous response to learning more about the atrocities inflicted on Indigenous families, in particular children, as a result of residential school policies and private truths, has been most overwhelming. Consistent requests along the lines of “what can I do?”, “how do I change and support further change?” and/or“tell me what I need to say to make this better?” have been nonstop to this business professional from extended settler family relations, friends, and business colleagues alike. My answer would never be a short one if I got started. So, I have trained myself to most often respond with “lets set up atime for a coffee and have a real chat.”
I confess to my ongoing clients at this time that although you are all very much a priority to me and are clawing at my internal work ethic to see your projects addressed with the utmost of professionalism. I also reply with an answer that takes time away from you.
I feel the need to reply this way for two reasons:
- I am someone who most often speaks/shares first without taking the time to assess the full landscape or prepare a well articulated and realistic response in these situations. I then become frustrated and embarrassed within two hours of providing my knew jerk response, while questioning and rearticulating what I should have said; and
- This work, these conversations, any answer to these questions is not easy to share, articulate, and for many, be heard, accepted, and respected. A safe, healthy and trusting setting and tone of voice need to be established rooted in calm and patience, not in anger or frustration from either side of the conversation.
Therefore, here is lesson number 1 for those who would like some answer to the questions:
The easiest thing to do is to acknowledge the land you live, work and plan on, as the land of its original stewards. This doesn’t mean you go around sharing with everyone you meet an intentional Indigenous history of the land you are on (although this would be quite amazing). But when you have a forum, an audience, in person, or on social media, you dig into your heart, spirit and mind to remember how you came to have this forum, this audience, the means to share your voice. Was it because your ancestors came here to find success, wealth in all its forms, privilege to go to school, to practice your chosen faith, speak your chosen language? And if so, who suffered because of this? Remember the children now being found under the surface after so many years of being lost. And speak not from a script, but from how you’re feeling.Tell the story of why you want to support change.
Acknowledge Indigenous presence, truth and story in someway, with sincerity, with transparency and with humility when you can and feel uncomfortable in doing so. Only in that discomfort will you know you are doing the right thing. And if you are not ready to be discomfortable. If you cannot come up with the words that are sitting your heart, spirit or mind. Do not say anything at all. For checking a box, and invoking tokenism is the most insulting, and perpetually oppressive colonial act you can do when opening up a conversation, presentation, lecture or chat about truth, injustice and genocide.
Non-Indigenous are the one’s most implicated in the damage done. Both non-Indigenous and Indigenous are implicated in the damage ongoing.Therefore, everyone must take responsibility for what they can do and what they can change.