Indigenous Perspectives Society

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The Impact of Language

 

Language, namely the words we use and how we use them, is a central feature for the foundations of our relationships. Yoga gurus claim that language effects our brains, provides us the ability to heal, and also helps us determine how we perceive our world. Social service practitioners will often say that how we say things and how we use language can create and/or deter positive social responses. Our grandmothers have repeatedly told us to consider our words before we speak them.

The commonality between our ancestors and professionals in the fields of relationships is that language does matter. And it matters most in Indigenous communities where language has often been used to harm or oppress. Worse yet, the aggressor alleges that the Indigenous party is “simply oversensitive”.

The truth is, our words are conduits of powerful messages that indicate whether our intentions are good and what our values are. Individuals acting as allies must take great care to avoid language such as “running on Indian time” or “lowest man on the totem pole”. For Indigenous communities and individuals, these micro aggressions have great impact. For non Indigenous communities these statements may be a reference point that have been learned, but the meaning behind the words creates greater divide between themselves, Indigenous peoples, and their true allies. Words do matter. In fact, the words we speak will convey messages to our listeners of who we are, what we stand for, what we will not tolerate, and what our core beliefs are.

Be the leader who carefully considers their words and avoids use of words and phrases that convey culturally relevant connotations which may be offensive. When uncertain, refrain from using clichés or learned phrases that you do not know the historical origin or significance of. Better yet, find safe and respectful spaces where meaningful conversation can be had that addresses micro aggressions and their impact in Indigenous communities.

Rachelle Dallaire, Executive Director, Indigenous Perspectives Society

What does Indigenous look and sound like?

 

With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and both the governments of Canada and British Columbia adopting the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, more people are wanting to ‘Indigenize’ their work with images and voices to reflect the new way of seeing presented through reconciliation efforts. Considering the diversity of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, this process has raised the question, “What does Indigenous look and sound like?”

In my position at Indigenous Perspectives Society (IPS), I have interviewed many individuals, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. When interviewing Indigenous applicants, it has been my experience that they come from a range of cultural backgrounds and immersion. Some have been raised in traditional families with cultural teachings, values, and experiences. For others, many have been displaced from family and cultural rearing by the child welfare system, and some never taught their culture out of shame instilled by the dominant mainstream society and colonization.  The gift offered by these varied experiences is a diversity in the stories shared by applicants.

In one interview, an Indigenous applicant in her introduction of herself shared the words “I know I don’t look Indigenous.” While I did not say anything in the moment, at the end of the interview when I provided her feedback I shared with her that when she identifies as an Indigenous woman, to do so with pride and unapologetically. Having said this, it did get me to thinking that this was not my first experience with an Indigenous candidate who felt the need to explain why they did not look a certain way. I hold the Canadian government, our mainstream stereotypes, as well lateral violence in Indigenous communities responsible for this.

With the implementation of the Indian Act in Canada, the Canadian government exploited Indigenous identities by dictating that the government and the government alone was the only body that could confirm whether an individual was in fact an Indigenous person. With this colonial exercise came mainstream and societal expectations and the stereotypical practice that an Indigenous person ought to look a certain way so that they could be easily identifiable.

Worse yet, these societal stereotypes found their way into Indigenous communities whereby community members then resented their counterparts who didn’t quite look like them. Skin being dark enough, hair straight enough and linguistic patterns became a way to separate and divide Indigenous communities.

We know that Indigenous looks and sounds differently depending which nation, group, or community you are part of. We also know that heritage and blood lines contribute to what Indigenous looks like. In the spirit of reconciliation, I encourage non-Indigenous allies to honour self-identification and to remember that Indigenous can look and sound as diverse as anyone in the world.

Rachelle Dallaire, Executive Director, Indigenous Perspectives Society

 

 

Perspectives To Action

Indigenous Perspectives Society and Stream of Consciousness

On November 7, 2018, with the support of Stream of Consciousness and Sunset Labs, Indigenous Perspectives Society is pleased to bring together speakers and performance artists for an evening exploring key efforts in response to the Calls to Action of the Reconciliation Commission.

For this sharing session, Indigenous Perspectives Society is pleased to bring together speakers, performance artists, and screen a short film to explore key efforts in response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We are fortunate to host “Perspectives To Action” on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen peoples.

*You can attend this event in person or live stream from anywhere! Information below.*

Featured speakers:

  • Eddy Charlie, co-organizer of Victoria’s Orange Shirt Day with Kristen Spray, speaking about Residential School
  • Dr. Jane Dickson, Law Professor at Carlton University and Instructor at Indigenous Perspectives Society, speaking about the Justice system and the Gladue Process

We are also pleased to present:

  • Rachelle Dallaire, Executive Director of Indigenous Perspectives Society
  • Charlie Batchelor, Indigenous Perspective Society’s Youth Representative

Dance and Musical Performances:

  • Eddi Wilson, Two Spirit performance artist
  • Aurora Finkle, musician

Film:

  • A Short Film featuring Laurie McDonald, Two Spirit Elder and Instructor at Indigenous Perspectives Society

Ways to be part of this event:

  • In person at the Sunset Labs by registering for “Perspectives to Action: Stream of Consciousness Event” and purchasing your ticket here under Training and Workshops
  • Live streaming: Enjoy this event wherever you are by registering for the Live Stream
  • There are reserved FREE tickets for youth up to 18 years old.

 

Thanks to The Makehouse

Indigenous Perspectives Society is greatly appreciative of Jenny Ambrose and The Makehouse for their recent Clothes Swap Fundraiser! As IPS is a charitable not for profit, the generosity of the Makehouse with their time and effort helps makes our work possible.

Thank you to all who came out to support the event! The event generated $685, and after venue expenses IPS received $335.  With the success of this event, we are looking forward to a possible Spring Clothes Swap, and hopefully a donated venue space!

For more information about The Makehouse, visit www.themakehouse.ca

Return-It and Support Indigenous Perspectives Society

Did you know that if you bring your recyclables to the Langford bottle depot at Alpine Disposal & Recycling, you can ask for the proceeds be donated to Indigenous Perspectives Society?

It is a great way to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill while supporting the training we provide to service providers throughout British Columbia and across Canada.

Alpine Disposal & Recycling is located at 1045 Dunford Avenue. When you bring your in your recyclables, tell the staff at the depot that you are donating the the refund for your recyclables to Indigenous Perspectives Society.

For more information on about the impact of the Return-It program read this.

Return-It - It's Worth It