Commitment to truth, reconciliation and reciprocity
In order to decolonize, organizations can’t decolonize fragments of the work, you can’t choose what you want to lean into around Indigenous sovereignty or reciprocity. Non-Indigenous organizations need to move beyond surface level engagement, there needs to be meaningful engagement and relinquishment of power and control.”
Tanya Ironstone Locke, Executive Director, Child Welfare League of Canada
How to go beyond a land acknowledgement
Do a self-assessment. Before creating an action plan to support Indigenous people and nations, it’s important to analyze what you’re already doing. Are any of your current behaviours causing harm? If so, it’s possible to change your habits to prevent future damage. Hold yourself accountable for changing your habits in your action plan.
Do a resource assessment. What resources can you personally provide to support Indigenous people and nations? Don’t be afraid to get creative here.
Do your research. We recommend investigating the following questions to inform your plan. These questions will help you better understand what’s happening in your area and how you can help. (This is not an exhaustive list: create your own research questions, too!)
- What is the Indigenous history of the land I occupy? Can I find any Indigenous place names for locations or landmarks in my area?
- What first nations are located closest to me? How do I pronounce the nation’s name? What projects is the nation working on? Who are their elected leaders? What are their goals for the future?
- What is my city doing to support Indigenous communities? Is my place of worship, club, gym, etc. doing anything to take action?
Outline concrete plan steps with specific, measurable actions. Look for points of alignment between your resource assessment and your research. For example, what areas of action is your organization taking around the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
And during your research, you might have discovered that community members are currently convening to protest the installation of a new pipeline on Indigenous land. Use this alignment to create an action step.
Go public. Don’t keep your plan to yourself. Share your action steps with your friends, family, and neighbours. Put them on Instagram. Tell your community that you are committed to supporting Indigenous people, and challenge people in your life to create their own plan.
Keep your action plan somewhere handy. Your action plan doesn’t belong in a drawer. Print it out and put it on your fridge. Store it in the notes section of your phone. Put it somewhere that will help you see it regularly.
Reflect on your progress. Your action plan is an ongoing commitment. Our lives constantly change, and so will your relevant actions. Reflect on your progress from time to time. How many of your action steps have you actually completed? What have been the biggest barriers to carrying out your plan? Are you making any life changes that will make it difficult to continue executing your plan as written? If so, restart your self-assessment and resource assessment, and outline new steps that work for you.
Stay humble. This work is ongoing; your learning does not stop at your action plan. Know that all of us have room to grow and more to learn. If someone calls you in (or out) on your plan, accept their words gracefully and use the moment as a learning opportunity.
Seeding Reconcilation on Uneven Ground
The 4Rs Youth Movement has developed a detailed framework to engage Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people in cross-cultural dialogue. Their work is is grounded in the idea that in order to change relationships, people need to share an experience together in order to engage in conversation that in both process and content encourages respect, reciprocity, reconciliation, and relevance. The framework describes essential elements in this shared experience, within which such dialogue can take place.
Althosa Healing Services
FAQS to build your cultural awareness and engage in respectful relationships with Indigenous people. Atlohsa Family Healing Services is a non-profit, charitable organization that has been serving individuals and families across Southwestern Ontario and beyond since 1986.
The Feasthouse – A platform for Indigenous Abundance
We would like to highlight a resource developed by The Circle on Philanthropy called The Feasthouse. “It is a place to be in and among Indigenous power, strength, responsibility and generosity. Come in, you are invited to feast with us.”