I apologize for the delay in writing, I swear I have an entire list made of people to talk about, though want to attend to the completion of my 10 chosen calls to action first. Many of these will be ongoing processes to completion, and may never ever be completed or fully do these Calls to Action justice, but this will be my way to at least start conversation and change in the smallest of ways. I have 5 of the calls to action noted below and will explain how I have worked on these as a start, along with my opinions to some of them as well. You may have a differing opinion on what I may have to say, and that is perfectly okay, but please keep the opinions respectful if you share them and if you are not able to be respectful please keep them to yourself. Enjoy!
23. iii. Provide cultural competency training for all healthcare professionals.
I have been lucky enough to live and work in a region that is quite diverse in its population. This includes a wide assortment of white folks from all over the country and from various cultural backgrounds, newcomers to the country, and various indigenous peoples from different nations, cultures, languages and dialects. In Northern Manitoba, I am the minority, with indigenous people making up a large portion of the population; which is awesome! Coming from a predominantly white/European population in Northern Ontario, it has at times been challenging, frustrating, and quite different. I say this thinking back to over 7 years ago to the person I was, in comparison to the person I am now. From a person forming opinions of people with little concept or knowledge of any other culture, to someone who today is continually learning about not just indigenous culture, but other people in general. It is difficult to form an opinion when you have been only taught one side of a story over the course of your education.
I am lucky today to have a workplace that has implemented indigenous cultural competency training, put together by indigenous people and presented by them as well. People with lived experience, able to tell factual stories of how everything came about; the good, the bad and the straight up ugly; and done in a way not to put forth blame on the people today but rather give opportunity for education and bring all people closer together in reconciliation and in moving forward in a good way, while being able to learn from the past. I am also fortunate to have been able to learn from various indigenous educators and friends through asking questions and being open to learn but primarily just listen. Listening has totally changed my life, learning as well. I sat and read the first module of my first online course in Indigenous Social Work from Laurentian University. It was basically the entire history of Canada up until now; from the indigenous perspective. The real, factual history. I sat and bawled my face off at home, thinking “why did nobody teach me this”. I thought I had learned everything; how arrogant of me, but also how humbling. Teaching each other about each other is a giant step to empathy, understanding, forgiveness and reconciliation.
38. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to commit to eliminating the overrepresentation of Aboriginal youth in custody over the next decade.
I don’t know if I have much of an impact in this section. My goal here is to do my part on an individual level to help reduce the representation on indigenous youth in custody. I have worked with the youth in Northern Manitoba for over 7 years, but I am not sure that the work I have done has helped decrease this number. I want to say I hope it has. Whether it has been through working in group homes, through out in the wilderness with groups of youth, through respite work, through assessment and crisis services with youth , their families, caregivers and supports, and now through foster parenting. I hope that what I do has a lasting positive impact on the youth I engage with and that they feel confident enough to steer themselves in the right direction and ultimately make choices that lead to happiness in life, instead of becoming a statistic in the criminal justice system. If you can leave a positive lasting impression on a young indigenous youth, I believe they carry that with them regardless of where you come from, what you look like, and so on and so forth and you just hope that they make choices leading down the good path, the right path for them.
48. We call upon the church parties to the Settlement Agreement, and all other faith groups and interfaith social justice groups in Canada who have not already done so, to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms, and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation. This would include, but not be limited to, the following commitments:
ii. Respecting Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination in spiritual matters, including the right to practise, develop, and teach their own spiritual and religious traditions, customs, and ceremonies, consistent with Article 12:1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
I am not a church party, nor am I a faith group, but I think this call to action can be accomplished with or without the involvement of them. I think this section is extremely important and does relate to what I had just mentioned in regards to youth in custody/criminal justice system. If the youth you are working with show an interest or voice an interest in their culture, traditions, customs, ceremonies, then make sure to find the right indigenous people, leaders, elders for them to connect with and engage with. Even if a youth does not voice an opinion on the topic, find the right people to expose them to it, in all of the various forms and see if the youth connects. This is something I will be working on in my home as I continue to take in teenagers from all walks of life, from various cultures. It is important that indigenous youth especially engage in their culture and traditions, as taught by their people; much of this was taken away throughout history and it is time to make it right.
63. We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:
iii. Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.
I love this one because as I had mentioned before, being a student again has brought me to this place of intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect. I don’t think it just stops in being a student though; the learning never really stops and there is so much to learn, on both sides though at this moment it is important to focus on the indigenous side of history, as the euro view has had more than enough time.
I feel it is important to have indigenous culture and studies in all Canadian schools, from elementary to post secondary. All Mandatory! The University of Winnipeg I believe is the first post secondary school to have done so, with amazing results and compelling reactions and comments from non-indigenous and indigenous students alike. My action is to continue to learn as a student, as a social worker in Northern Manitoba, and transfer knowledge I have received to others who may not have the access, availability or opportunity to learn through school or even life experiences.
87. We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.
I am a sports guy, so this one is obviously going to be a favourite of mine to research. I don’t know that I am able to tell the story of these athletes throughout history, but I want to highlight a few that I do know of.
Carey Price- Price is the goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens, and is a member of British Columbia’s Ulkatcho First Nation. His mother Lynda is a former chief of the First Nation. Many people consider him at this point in time to be the best goaltender in the entire world! Even me, and I cannot stand the Canadiens!
Reggie Leach aka- “The Riverton Rifle”- Leach is of Ojibwe ethnicity, a member of Berens River First Nation in Manitoba. Reggie played in 934 NHL games, tallying 666 points. Just a true beauty!
Stan Jonathan- I bring Stan into the fold here as the third NHL’er because he was just a pure beauty as well. I also brought him into the fold because there were several occasions where he and my uncle Peter Driscoll dropped the gloves and settled some scores on the ice. Both big tough dudes, and Stan played for my beloved Bruins. He is Tuscarora, born in Ohsweken Ontario, a six nations reserve near Brantford, Ontario.
OK, that’s it for now, I know I only focused on hockey I n the last section, but there are s many more great indigenous athletes from all over Canada that have significantly contributed to this country both in and out of their respective sports. I will list some more to check out and then that’s it for now.
-Jordan Tootoo, Ted Nolan, Clara Hughes, Theo Fleury, Jordan Nolan, Tom Longboat, George Armstrong, Jonathan Cheechoo, Rene Bourque, Wayne Bourque, Sharon Bruneau, Wade Redden, Bryan Trottier…..etc.