The New Relationship
Below is my keynote for the Coquitlam Cultural Summitt. It's an amalgamation of 2 previous keynotes as well as some new ideas weaved in. Like all my speaking engagements, there was some improv that I will never be able to retroactively capture - so you'll just have to come to them.
I offer this to anyone who's just starting out writing these and I thank Marcus Youseff for always making generous offers around writing and his ongoing mentorship. Especially in areas as specialized as keynotes, where knowledge sharing is hard to come by.
I will also be making a podcast of this keynote that will come out soon!
Kim setsadeh nenkynee Syilx, Tshilqot’in, Dakelh and Ktunaxa
Sechanalyagh - City of Coquitlam, Terra Dickinson, Maria Danysh
Limelet - Coast Salish Peoples and especially the Kwikwetlem Nation whose Ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of thousands of years we stand on today.
Thank you Medo’s - that’s some of you - the white folx.
Kwikwetlem - refers to “red fish up the river” - where a unique salmon run happened in this area. In my research to be here at this event today I learned that the Kwikwetlem people “had a lively economy based on fishing, gathering resources, and making trade goods such as baskets. The Kwikwetlem possess rich traditional knowledge passed generation to generation that tell their stories, place names, spirit places, trails, travel tours, traditional names, songs, and much more.”
I’m wondering if there are any members of the Kwikwetlem First Nation here today?
If you feel comfortable and would like to stand up or raise your hand I would love to pay my respects for allowing me to be here.
**Wait and see if anyone presences themselves
**If no one does
Well - this is why we’re here today aren’t we - to work on a very violent relationship between the non-Indigenous peoples and the first peoples of these lands.
**If someone does
Way - hello, what an honour it is to be here on your territory my peoples have had thousand year old trading agreements with the Sto:lo and Coast Salish peoples. We would travel down the river from the Interior and enter your territories, these incredible lands and visit with the intentions to respect the thousand year old laws and traditions of your peoples and the land.
I come here today in continuance of this tradition, with the intent to respect you, these territories and my time here. To honour the long traditions of our Ancestors living, trading and existing in a good way.
Limelet- thank you and I hope my time here as a guest, honours the cultural protocols of your peoples.
Hycka O siem -
I am very grateful and excited to be here. This is my 3rd and final keynote of this year and I think that’s a good thing because I’m getting sick of hearing my own voice. :P
I will say I am very excited that this is not at 9am - limelet Brenda Leadley for getting up early to rally the troops!
Brenda and I go way back - to 2009 I believe, she was Artistic Director of Presentation House and gave me my first theatre gig out of university. She cast and directed me and I played Jade.
I just want to honour Brenda for her consistent support and advocacy for Indigenous artists in the community. She’s also got one of the best smiles and gives amazing hug, so it’s always an honour to share space with her.
But what am I doing here, why is this “actor/writer/director” of “fire creator” whatever that means talking about the “New Relationship” - shouldn’t it be some policy analyst, some sociologist, some expert in community engagement.
She looks 24
And she sounds like a prepubescent boy - hey this voice gets me some good voice over gigs :)
So let me set this up for us - I’m going to talk about who I am and what I do, then we’re going to talk about who you are and the role you play in this new relationship and then we’re going to talk about next steps - practical applications and then we’re going to do a Q and A.
Good, because even if you all said no - we literally cannot change that format.
Also, behind me in size very big, we’ve got a slideshow of images from shows that I have or am working on, so if you get bored of looking at me, I would love for you to look at all the places I’ve been and see inside some of my work and processes.
When I was in the process of being a keynote here the organizers kept saying - practical application, practical application people really want practical application. When I was interviewing for this position - which let me just tell you - it sort of felt like I was being vetted for CSIS.
There was a somewhat rigourous paper application process, I had a phone interview and then they did a background check - just joking - they didn’t do a background check - wait did you cats?!
Hahaha ok - well it just felt like they we’re really wanting to make sure they have the most suitable people for this even and I appreciate that.
I was curious though like - are they going to like go and talk to all my ex-bf’s - and then I thought nooooo they wouldn’t have time to go through that long list. :)
But I will say working with government is quite an ordeal. And I know it from the inside - I’ve worked with or in all three levels - and I got out and I’m still alive!!!! But damn do I miss those benefits.
But let’s take a couple steps back because I want to take a moment to self locate - what’s that Kim.
Self location can communicate:
-who are you accountable to
-Where are you raised
-Gifts, roles, responsibilities
-What brought you here today
-How do you intro yourself and identify
Self location is about relationship to land, language, spiritual, cosmological, political, economical, environmental and social elements of one’s life.
Self location is a part of Indigenous learning and ontology because the way we work is about situating ourselves in humble and conscious relationality to our cosmology.
Relationality? Cosmology -wut.
Basically what I’m saying is that as problematic as Disney’s Pocahontas is - they got some things annoyingly correct including the line in colours of the wind, “We are all connected to each other, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends.”
Relations are the connections and bonds between us and the cosmo’s aka the Universe. I am connected to each and every one of you right now. As we exist right here and now in this moment, I’m connected to the earth we stand on - and I work to honour and nourish the bonds between me and the cosmos to live in a good way, aligned with my values.
Indigenous creation, is not hierarchical, it’s relational.
And so I participate in the act of self location - so you and me can work in good, respectful, conscious relations. If you’re interested in looking into more - which I highly recommend you do - you read the research and teachings of Margaret Kovach and Kathy Absolon.
Self location - is incredibly important for working with Indigenous peoples because the relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples right now is - well, how do I put this - it’s shit.
It lacks trust, it lacks clarity, it lacks integrity, it lacks truth, it basically lacks all the elements to composing a healthy and nourishing relationship and we are all responsible for it and it’s status.
And it’s of the greatest importance to me that we heal it - our lives and it's my firm belief, humanity’s future depends on it.
Self location is the first step to presencing ourselves in this current reality - to enter into relations and I have found in my work and experience that white folx/medo’s always want to dive in.
It’s so abrupt, it’s so accostive, it’s not natural to us.
Ya’ll ask us for a meeting and within 2 mins you’re asking us to start working on “action items” and deliverables and we’re like hold up, take a minute - whose you’re fucking Grandma.
Building trust requires us to walk through the portal of vulnerability - that’s the only way to get there and when you come in, wearing business casual apparel and throw up your glossy PP and don’t allot an appropriate amount of time for us to presence ourselves, to self-locate then we’re just feeding into the old sick and unhealthy relation that’s been occurring for over 400 years.
So I’m going to spend a few mins self locating and during this time I encourage you to take a breath, relax into your body, and come meet me here in this present moment as I invite you into my life, invite my Ancestors into the room and share with you my spirit work.
Having my Ancestors in the room with us, is really important because it honours them and when mine come, it pulls into relation yours and so some of yours arrive too.
And our Ancestors have some things to talk about.
I come from 4 Nations. Which makes me a super indian and the reason why I’m so obnoxious.
I do think sometimes when I get introduced people are like HOLEH how many indians is she?
On my Matriarchal side, I come from the Tshilqot’in and Dakelh Nations. This is near the Williams Lake and Prince George area. This is a great example of what happens when white folks jump in too hard and fast. I come from the Tshilqot’in Nations - and so how did it get bastardized to Chilcotin. We said Tshilqot’in - oh k cool Chilcotin - and then they just ran with it.
To me, it’s such an embarrassing and oppressive residue of colonization, it’s like all these contemporary examples of ignorance printed across these giant green signs along the roads and in our towns and on Indigenous peoples territories - so if you don’t believe we live in a white oppressive and thus supremacist society, I encourage you to take a walk around the block and read all the signs that have abhorrently got the names wrong.
And don’t sit there and start to get fragile and think omg she’s getting mad at us - don’t position me to be the “aggressive” person here. Those signs are aggressive and we’re complicit in maintaining them.
And if the roles were reversed it would be unacceptable and I wouldn’t be asked to speak here because there is a double white oppressive standard in our society where it’s ok for non-indigenous peoples to be blatantly ignorant but it’s not ok for us.
Imagine I came in here and repeatedly pronounced it cow-kit-blam instead of Coquitlam. You would judge me and ask why hasn’t she gone and done the work to pronounce it correctly.
But let’s get back to self-location.
My mother is Terri Harvey - the most loving Matriarch I’ve ever met. Mom’s parents and my Grandparents were Emma Mack, a fierce advocate for Education and Maxine Mack an inductee in the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame.
The Tsihlqot’in is where I spent the majority of my summers as a child, on the Anaham rez, making fires and falling face first into cow pies. Which was really exceptional indian training for the steaming pile of colonial shit people try to feed me on the daily.
The Tshilqot’in are fierce Indigenous peoples, the interior demands it. The land demands it.
Here are a few examples of what I mean.
In 2014, after 20 years of fighting the canadian state, the supreme court of canada, made a unanimous precedent setting decision that confirmed we had aboriginal title to over 1,700 square kilometres of our homeland, not just “old village sites” as the canadian state had argued. This was the first time in canada aboriginal title had been confirmed and my people fought for decades to accomplish this.
In 2017, we were the first Indigenous community in canada to say no to a federal evacuation order, we made this decision to stay and protect our community after the government abandoned us and then the royal canadian police threatened to take our children away.
Our community members, who are trained in fighting wildfires, community members including my Uncles, Aunty’s and cuzzin’s fought the blaze so successfully not a single dwelling burned.
In 2018, the prime minister of canada exonerated six Tsilhqot’in men, hanged in 1864, for leading an uprising against the settler colonials illegal occupation on my Indigenous Nation.
I come from badasses and I’m damn proud of it.
On my Pa’s side we come from the Syilx and Kutanxa Nations.
My Father is Harold Harvey and his parents and my Grandparents were Susan and Joe Harvey.
My Father is the most extensive and accomplished learner, he truly is the most humble and smartest person I know. Which is wickedly powerful combination.
On my Syilx side we come from leadership, a long line that goes back to the 17th century from what we know.
You know that valley in between Merritt and Kamloops called Nicola? That’s named after my great great great great great great Uncle, Chief N’kwala.
My relatives travelled all over Europe to meet with King George and the Pope to try and get the colonizers to respect Indigenous peoples inherent rights.
The Interior Salish is unceded land and the King’s and Queen’s over the Atlantic had made oral agreements with us about respecting our land and title rights to fish and hunt and use the land as we have done from time immemorial.
My Ancestors we’re a part of the Interior Indian alliance where over 20 Chiefs worked to ensure our people had the opportunity to live peacefully.
So on my mother’s side, I come from fighters and my father’s side I come from diplomats.
My Ancestors did their work over generations - the work to get the colonizers and the non-Indigenous peoples to do right by us and I stand here before you in continuance of that work.
It is my intent to create new relationships between Indigenous peoples and Canadians that is focused on equity, safety, inclusion, excellence, vulnerability, courage and peace.
I will aim to provide safe passage for the artists I work with, as well as the community at large, working with the understanding that evolution will be uncomfortable and inconvenient.
I will measure my impact by embedding deep work and thoughtful reflection into my practice and I will be humbled by my mistakes and courageous with my work and forever grateful for your generosity and compassion.
I use storytelling as the modality to accomplish these ends, with theatre and tv and film writing, as a blogger and podcaster - I’ve recently found that I’m much more comfortable with being called an Indigenous Cultural Evolutionist - which is the name of my podcast because I believe that is the work I’ve been called to do and gifted the abilities to do so by my lineage and by my Ancestors.
I believe the most sacred bond we all have is the relationship we have to the earth and for many people that bond has been ignored, or severed and is the cause of the great climate and relational crisis we face today.
I bear witness to all of you here today and this knowledge exchange as a protocol, ceremonial and I’m honoured to share space with you, to urgently work together to create an environment that is healthier than the one we’ve inherited and one that we are proud to steward in for the next generation.
For I believe that we do not inherit the land from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our children. I work in service to me peoples, in deep relationship to the wellbeing of all of our future children. I work for them. And they need us to work more urgently and in better relations today.
I hope this act of self location - gives you an idea of who my people are, who I am and how I came to be here. So when you ask me to work with you, it’s from a place of knowledge and understanding and not just a bullet points of “expertise.” We have to stop working in a deliverable based way - it’s so colonial and it’s not successful.
And what is success. Recently in my Indigenous methods class at UVIC, where I’m currently doing my Masters, we had a really in depth class discussion on what that means, and one thing that stuck out to me is that Indigenous peoples are not asked often enough or ever.
With many institutions and in programs we’re told what success is - because it aligns with the org’s pillars or strat plan. We’re asked to parachute in and help medo’s accomplish their deliverables so they are successful and that is white supremacy in action and not an equitable relationship.
As an artist, this is how I define success and I ask you to consider it when you’re engaging Indigenous peoples:
-If it's useful to the community.
-If I build my ability to serve the community with a process that brings peace and equity.
-If I can release myself from colonial conditioning and share that process and or experience with the community.
-If I can re-traditionalize or Indigenize myself with a conditioning that centres a world view from my self location.
-If I create a methodology that is useful for other Indigenous artists and peoples to confidently self locate themselves and find their role in serving the community with greater ease.
If success is the accomplishment of purpose, than success to me is effectively serving my Indigenous communities by bringing equity and peace to our cosmology and inter-relationality.
Understanding self, our location and having confidence in that knowledge is at the heart of the work. Giving time for that Indigenous investigation of self and our relations to our cultural grounding is vital. Kovach defines cultural grounding “as the way that culture nourishes the researcher’s spirit during the inquiry, and how it nourishes the research itself”
The work must be cultural nourishing and the process is actually the work itself.
With all of our work, before we start engaging we need to shift the colonial paradigm into an Indigenous worldview, so the work is equitable and not upholding settler supremacy.
Otherwise we will continue to have colonial led “Indigenous” programs and we don’t need anymore white thought up indian system making.
I don’t think any of my Indigenous families have gone to “reconciliation” programming. It’s not for us and that’s a fucking problem because that’s where soooooo many resources are going and how programs are being made.
I don’t believe reconciliation is the answer because at the genesis of this concept is a return to a relationship when it was healthy - and here is the truth that many Settlers don’t like to hear, embody or account for - it was a shit relationship from the start which is why we need an entirely new one.
One that is going to be very uncomfortable for you, very inconvenient for you and ya’ll have to be prepared for that and I don’t think anyone sitting here right now is.
There might be 1-2 people at best who might be able to leave this room and could being a process in an Indigenous world view, with the capacity to meaningfully engage Indigenous peoples and not create more violent and unethical programming that causes Indigenous artists and peoples hurt but not more than maybe 2 people.
I am not saying there is not knowledge in this room, there is and I’m sure there are many degrees, Masters and PhD holders but I’m telling you the majority of that is not sufficient enough learning to authentically and safely engaging with Indigenous peoples.
I say that I have a PHD in whiteness because I’ve spent close to 34 years learning all of your systems, the nuances of them, the intricacies, the fragilities, the insidiousness, the beauty and the horror.
I have worked in or in direct relation with municipal, provincial and federal governance and found it in its systemic nature divisive, territorial and completely jagged.
It’s my belief that this dichotomy is purposeful in its intersections with Indigenous politics, because it forces these contrasting worldviews to be oppressively shoved into one that acts like a shredder instead of a container to receive and support a pluralistic pedagogy and society.
So there are a number of challenges we face when working on this New Relationship to even begin to think of engagement strategies.
There is a deficit of knowledge from Non-Indigenous peoples regarding Indigenous paradigms and ontologies.
Non-Indigenous peoples are either oppressively trying to make Indigenous peoples subservient to white systems whether they are conscious of it or not.
Non-Indigenous peoples are frozen in shame or guilt to change and thus we become stuck in the white oppressive cycle.
I’m here to make some offers around how we can move forward from this dangerous stasis we’re in.
I had the fortune of participating in the Banff Cultural Leadership Program last year, I learned many many key tools that have really built my capacity.
In our second module, Tim Cynova the Chief Operating Officer of Fractured Atlas which is is a non-profit technology company that provides business tools for artists based out of NYC. They have some of the most comprehensive anti-oppression policies I’ve seen, I implore you to check them out.
Tim Cynova is also one of the most passionate arts leaders I’ve ever met. When he came to Banff he was so excited to speak to the cohort and it’s the only time in my life I’ve ever seen this, he had to take a knee in the middle of it.
I’m not sure if it was how riled up he was of the lack of oxygen in the mountains but this guy took a knee in the middle of his arts leadership powerpoint and it continues to astound and impress me.
Anyways, I learned some pretty astonishing statistics about workplace efficiencies and employee well being from Tim’s blog entitled Work. Shouldn’t. Suck.
Now, these stats are American but in my research I found the numbers in Canada that are very comparable. So even if we wanted to embody that ridiculously ill informed and unwarranted canadian optimism to boost these %’s to assuage our guilt - they are so wild - they are still relevant.
So here goes-
Only 15% of employees feel engaged at work.
And around 60% of the total employees at your organization are disengaged at work.
And this one - 25% of employees are actively working against you.
So ya your instinct about Todd making your life a living hell is correct.
But here’s the last one that just actually makes me laugh - 51% of employees are actively looking for other jobs - most likely at their current place of work.
And we in the arts and culture sector are not absent from these realities.
In the past year I have visited a theatre where I actually saw employees actively working against the AD and organizational leadership. Employees actively tanking shows.
And for me, in my teachings, when you aren’t fully participating, participating in making something happen, it’s deemed by the community that you are actively responsible for not making it happen.
My biggest intent with my work, with my writing, is achieving equity for Indigenous peoples so every community member has the opportunity to live peacefully.
And that is not going to happen with teams statistics such as this - so managers out there, team leaders - do an inventory of your stagg and find out who is willing to play ball and do the work and find out who you’re paying to find their next job.
Employee workplace compositions is huge to forging this new relationship. And we need teams of people willing to double down, we need people willing to have courageous conversations about falling on our faces and not spending their time on charityvillage annoyed at how little your paying them.
I believe that if we can all start addressing this team compositions, I think we can alter those statistics because it’s going to centre, motivate and instill joy back into all of our jobs and roles within the community.
Find people who enjoy failure, cultivate workplace environments that celebrate reflection and accountability and letting a project go. Did you know at Google they throw failure parties? That when their Google X teams realizes an idea is not working and they let it die the bosses throw them a party?
That fosters a workplace that embraces vulnerability and courage and humility and we need a lot more of that.
We gotta be brave and lean into the vulnerability it takes to be courageous.
I believe one of the prevailing reasons why non-Indigenous and even some Indigenous peoples don’t engage in the new relationship we need is because of fear.
I believe fear is at the root of everything that stops us when we know we should do it- we get too scared and we freeze in the fear.
And I need you to unfreeze yourselves.
The discomfort you feel cannot be more important than the safety and well being of the lives of Indigenous peoples. And you need to spend some time with that because it is our truth.
The convenience of non-Indigenous people, Settlers has been prioritized over Indigenous peoples well being and that is not okay.
It’s been the canadian states agenda to make you scared of Indigenous peoples and or ashamed of what’s transpired between us since colonization began over 400 years ago.
In my blog and podcast, I talk a lot about Canadian culture being a shame culture - and I need you to refuse the shame, the shame that is attached to your fear, that has become permanently attached to who you are because we are the artists and thus the evolutionists.
We need to build a new culture that is founded on vulnerability, courage and respect and you have some of the greatest opportunities to lead and open these portals for the new relationality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and it starts with your influence and the stories you presence in your daily work.
Stop participating in email chains about staplers, or how someones not staying in their lanes and making shame culture your workplace culture - start celebrating invention and braveness and failure.
You have to go and do the work to make yourselves more comfortable, because you’ve been hiding behind and rationalizing your lack of efforts inside your comfort and it’s been at the expense of Indigenous peoples dignity.
You are going to make mistakes, that is a truth you are going to mispronounce something but know you are going to fall sometimes, you will get complaints, you will not know the answers to some questions but beyond appropriating stories or putting your students in red face, I don’t think you can mess up that bad.
And when you get really scared about misrepresenting something culturally, always remember you will never mess up as bad as Prime Minister Justin Trudeea who has made it his hobby to dress up in brown and black face.
Just remember - you can’t mess up as much as the Prime Minister. :)
You failing cannot stop you from trying. This is not to say that we are just going to go out there without building our capacities to ensure we’ve done everything we can to build environments that will keep people culturally, spiritually and physically safe - you urgently need to go do that work but we have to start in that process.
And the first step is with self because the unhealed pain of non-Indigenous folk, those who come up to mic’s at talkbacks, on the street, on social media posts, emails asking “but what can I do? What can I do?”
Is freezing us all in time because this work is relational, we have to move forward together and we can’t if you’re frozen in pain.
Here is an offer - investigate what’s happened in your life that has resulted in you not knowing more about Indigenous ontology.
Interrogate your lived experiences that have kept you from having Indigenous peoples in your life on the regular.
Trouble your pain, trouble it because it troubles us everyday.
We have not had the privilege of not working to heal because it is that urgent for us.
Ask yourself why you have not done it already. Because non-Indigenous folx - you frozen in shame actually the biggest obstruction for the new relationship needed.
I feel bad because the canadian shame culture also makes you feel powerless. I meet so many people, Dept heads, team leaders, HR Directors, Executives and Executive support staff who adamantly believe they have no power.
You need to stop believing that because it is not true. You have power, everyone does and we can’t succumb to patriarchall, colonial capitalism - or the 3 headed goblin I like to refer to it as - patriarchy, colonialism and capitalism.
I don’t need to empower you, you were born with power and I might just be here to ignite it. A part of this first step is going and doing a reflection and inventory on the power you currently have in your life.
As a parent, employee, community members - whatever you are - you have power to presence Indigenous peoples and if nothing else personal sovereignty to build your capacity to better understand the vexed histories between us.
You want to know where I got my PHD in whiteness? The University of Google.com - well not all of it - this doctorate also involved a loooooooooot of field work but this University of Google houses so many resources.
I believe that in this age of technology and access - ignorance is not a choice. And if you were unconscious of the level of ignorance you have before - I’m bringing us all into consciousness that we have a lot of work to do - and you need to go urgently do it.
-Bill C 31
-the violent and continued history of the Ministries of Children and Family apprehending our children
-the state run incarceration genocide program
-the euro-centric centered pedagogy of white health care systems that refuse to care for the wellbeing of Indigenous peoples
-the minutia of intergenerational trauma as an embodiment - not just a term.
Read the TRC and Missing and Murder Indigenous Woman Final report, listen to the All My Relations Podcast, CBC’s Unreserved, take Indigenous courses at night, see every exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology, and injest as much Indigenous art and stories as you can so you can be the leaders and space makers for all citizens to get the education they need to bear witness to the lives of Indigenous peoples and not too get stuck in the shameful colonial past.
The canadian state might try and erase Indigenous peoples but you have the agency and power to bring us into the world views of your communities.
Communities composed of people who will grow up to be system and policy makers, political leaders, that will either be educated and know and respect the value systems of Indigenous peoples or not.
If you don’t bring Indigenous peoples, stories, art, and plays into your communities you are then complicit in holding up canada’s agenda of “eradicating the indian.”
You become complicit in maintaining the canadian narrative that Indigenous peoples are only found in textbooks, or by Indigenous guest speakers once a year and that engaging and holding the rights and well being and presence of Indigenous peoples on a daily basis is not important or necessary and that hurts us.
I fight on a daily basis to be seen, heard and respected. Indigenous peoples are positioned to fight for our dignity all too often because canadians are too scared or frozen in shame to stand with us.
Our communities are waiting in the circle for you to make the space for this new relationships, to hear these stories, learn how to be in circle and grow up to become socially conscious members of society who understand and empathize with Indigenous peoples humanity because you passionately prioritized and presented Indigenous art, stories and people.
And that is truly what it comes down to - space making. I don’t like being called a director or writer or whatever isolated manageable title colonists give me - what I do is build my capacity to create safe spaces for the new relationship to exist, develop and grow.
What we don’t need is colonial and white led programming “for” Indigenous peoples. We don’t need you to go spend more money on programming that is developed in a white and imperialist paradigm, run by colonists and sold as “Indigenous.”
That creates more systems forcing Indigenous subservience and state resource dependency. That upholds white constructs and sustains a white supremacy heritage because it’s deliberately not designed to lead to Indigenous sovereignty.
It’s just the age old white oligarchy forcing Indigenous peoples into white systems and programming.
And my Ancestors did not live for me to die like that.
And it is a death - it kills the aliveness of our spirits, it erases the erotic nature of our existence, it’s anti-Indigenous white focused evolution and I ain’t here for that.
What you have to go and do is your due diligence on self and then your communities to find the Indigenous leaders. And they are there.
Don’t let that deficit of knowledge, unconscious complicity in white supremacy or shame tell or make your believe otherwise.
You are powerful people and you have to go and leverage your privilege, knowledge and power to unshackle yourselves from fear and shame and build your capacities to hold Indigenous space.
So what do you do now?
Don’t email me - ha!
I’m kidding but like not really. What happens after these events is people get very excited and email me saying “I’m doing this thing and we want you to come lead it.”
A lot of Indigenous peoples are extremely busy with work on self, kin, community and Nation and we need you to respect that for Indigenous peoples that servitude to our peoples is priority 1.
So when you send an email - and make offers - make sure they align with those values and that protocol. That you offer how you can help them and not perpetuate colonial transactional relations that serve the white system and imperial agenda of taking Indigenous peoples away from our community work.
This harkens back to the white folks always wanting to dive right in - instead of going and doing the work to find the people in your community you want people like me to just give it it you.
I am a FT family member, a FT Masters student and FT theatre practitioner. I should not be doing one of the latter two but hey who needs free time.
So please don’t email me asking for things and positioning me to feel bad because I can’t respond to your email for weeks or months - that’s the waiting list I have right now - especially for non-Indigenous led initiatives.
Don’t email me or other Indigenous peoples asking for things - I feel like we’ve given you quite a bit - ya know billions of hectares of land -and you still need things? Jayzuz!
Email me making offers - I love getting emails where people have offered a part of themselves and been vulnerable enough to share what our time together meant - those are nourishing. I’m pretty alone in this work so I really appreciate those but please don’t distract Indigenous peoples from out important Nationwork.
Besides you have so much personal work to do - call that therapist and psychologist because you have some colonial shame unpacking to do before you begin the engagement work and you want to be supported in that.
Mine is Daryl Ternovski - he’s amazing - just making that offer to you.
You also have to go en enroll in Google U - you have to read reports, attend events, enroll in night classes, attend events at the Friendship centres.
So much - you have so much learning to do.
And then you have to go find the knowledge holders in your communities - a lot of the emails I get are “who do you recommend.” I’m in the midst of adding that page to my website but I also don’t like feeding you that information.
You need to go make relationships in your community by attending events and working with Indigenous org’s and peoples so you get Indigenous peoples from your communities, invested in your communities leading these programs and initiatives.
You’re missing it if that’s what you’re sitting there right now being like I’m going to wmail Kim to come engage with my program. So take a step back and go do that spiritual self work to start this healing and relationality in a good way and do this in an Indigenous paradigm.
As space makers for this new relationship I do want to say that it must be of your utmost priority to learn how to host Indigenous peoples.
Our lives are complex, beautiful and ever evolving and you better know that truth and be able to deal with those impacts before you invite us and positions us to be “inconvenient” or “challenging”.
State your intentions, be accountable for your impacts - aka the mistakes you will make and never stop building your capacity and knowledge, your ability to support and hold space for Indigenous peoples.
When I create space for peoples to gather, intersect, relate - I’ve done my due diligence and I make clear statements about my shortcomings and I take absoloutle responsibility for when I fail in properly supporting people. That’s Indigenous leadership to me.
Because if you don’t do that - you’re only widening the gap between us because like I said off the top - our relationship is shit and there is not trust and we will not remedy that if we don’t know how to take accountability.
Now - I can sense some people saying - omg - that’s a lot - I’m scared - maybe I will wait for the Indigenous person in my office - or the one we subcontract to initiate something.
In the meanwhile - I’ll start an email thread with 17 people thanking Lucy for that event. Graciousness always disguises fear right?
No. Well maybe to some but not me - I’ve consulted for countless org’s that give me the long list of why they haven’t started and I’m saying to you right now that you need to start.
Start lunch and learns that gov over the TRC’s calls to action - get someone to email one out once a week.
Pay and Indigenous knowledge holder to come into an all staff and do relational learning.
Google and read as much Indigenous literature you can. Practically alll book stores now have an Indigenous literature section. If you’re a manager buy some books and get your staff to do a reflection one.
Prioritize building your knowledge on Indigenous theories, ideologies and the violent histories of euro-settler imperialists coming here.
Refuse shame, unshackle yourself from fear and know that this will be an ongoing one.
We need you - all of you sitting right here and now - we need you to go an initiate this work.
The lives of Indigneous peoples have gone far too long under imperial rule and violence and you have the ability to ignite the power within yourself to create systems, programs and relations that make our Ancestors who are watching us and our future children's lives filled with the peace we all deserve.
I believe Indigneous and non-Indigenous peoples have yet to have our finest hour and I believe that we can create and forge that new relationships together and participate in a cultural evolution that we so desperately need.
From my Ancestors to all of yours, sechanalyagh, limelet, thank you.
Here is a picture of my paternal Grandma Susan Harvey who is Syilx and Ktunaxa and my paternal Great Grandmother Harriet Paul who is Syilx and married Frank Paul who was Ktunaxa.
Harriet refused to speak english and only n̓səl̓ xcin because she thought english was stupid. I love that level of refusal.