June is Indigenous History Month, and in Canada, today is National Indigenous Peoples Day.

In Vancouver, we are privileged to be located on the ancient, traditional and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the traditional territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

National Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated to honor and recognize the heritage, culture, and contributions of Indigenous peoples to the country. It is an opportunity to appreciate and showcase the rich diversity and history of Indigenous communities. The day serves as a reminder of the importance of acknowledging and respecting the rights, traditions, and knowledge of Indigenous people. It part of a broader effort in Canada to acknowledge and rectify the historical injustices faced by Indigenous peoples and to promote healing and reconciliation.

Today, in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, we are going to talk about key ways to demonstrate allyship.

Actively participating in reconciliation means taking intentional actions to support Indigenous rights, advocate for justice, and foster positive relationships. It means taking the labour of learning upon yourself, not asking Indigenous folks to educate you on their oppression. It means being an ally, which is more than just posting a little square with a caption on social media and then calling it a day.

Here are 6 key things to remember when unlearning and learning on your journey to being a better ally to Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
  1. Educate Yourself: Take the initiative to learn about Indigenous history, cultures, and contemporary issues. Read books and articles written by Indigenous authors. Listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, and attend workshops or lectures on topics surrounding topics affecting Indigenous folks in Canada. Educate yourself on the impacts of colonization, the Indian Residential School system, land sovereignty, MMIWG, and the ongoing struggles faced by Indigenous communities, like lack of access to clean drinking water in many rural towns. Understanding Indigenous perspectives and experiences is crucial in being an effective ally.
  2. Listen and Amplify Indigenous Voices: Actively listen to the voices and experiences of Indigenous peoples. Pay attention to their stories, struggles, and aspirations. Amplify Indigenous voices by sharing their perspectives, art, and achievements. Use your platform, whether it's on social media, in your workplace, or within your community, to elevate Indigenous voices and advocate for Indigenous rights and issues.
  3. Support Indigenous-Led Initiatives: Seek out and support Indigenous-led organizations, initiatives, businesses, and events. Attend Indigenous cultural festivals, art exhibitions, and performances. Purchase goods and services from Indigenous-owned businesses. By supporting Indigenous-led initiatives, you contribute to economic empowerment and help promote self-determination within Indigenous communities.
  4. Engage in Reconciliation Efforts: Engage in reconciliation efforts by actively supporting initiatives and policies that promote justice, equality, and respect for Indigenous rights. Advocate for the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Support land acknowledgments and treaty education initiatives. Encourage your local government and institutions to engage in meaningful consultations and collaboration with Indigenous communities.
  5. Build Relationships and Partnership: Foster positive and respectful relationships with Indigenous individuals, organizations, and communities. Take the time to listen, learn, and engage in open and honest dialogue. Cultivate relationships based on trust, equality, and understanding. When engaging with Indigenous communities, be mindful of their sovereignty, traditions, and protocols. Building genuine relationships is crucial to allyship and supporting Indigenous self-determination.
  6. Take Action Against Racism: Stand against racism, discrimination, and stereotypes targeting Indigenous peoples. Speak up when you witness or encounter acts of racism or microaggressions. Challenge harmful stereotypes and misconceptions. Actively contribute to creating safe and inclusive spaces for Indigenous individuals and communities.
Remember that allyship is an ongoing process of learning, unlearning, and taking action. It requires humility, self-reflection, and an openness to feedback.
Most important of all, allyship should be guided by the needs and priorities defined by Indigenous peoples themselves. Act in solidarity, respect, and reciprocity, acknowledging the importance of Indigenous self-determination and the diversity of Indigenous perspectives.

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