Our hearts are heavy but what can we do to help make positive change?

Mom and child at the Indigenous Children Memorial at the Vancouver Art Gallery

A lot has happened in our country over the past few weeks that has brought to the fore front the racism that is prevalent in our society. The discovery of 215 children’s remains at a former residential school in Kamloops is a painful reminder of what Indigenous people have gone through in Canada. To say my heart is heavy is an understatement. As an Indigenous person I'm well aware of the atrocities that my ancestors have faced at the hands of colonialism. The intergenerational trauma is real. It's not just a part of our past but very much our present.

Last week I stopped by the memorial at the art gallery and was overwhelmed by so many emotions. Seeing a mom hold her young child as they looked over the 215 pairs of shoes was a stark reminder that 215 little ones died without their parents and 215 parent’s arms were empty. I have been grieving alongside my Indigenous and non-Indigenous friends and family members.

And now, just a few days ago, a Muslim family was out for a walk in London, Ontario and four of the five family members were struck and killed by a vehicle in what is now being identified as a terrorist attack. Their nine year old boy is the only surviving member and he is (at the time of writing this article) in hospital being treated for serious but non-life threatening injuries.

These two incidents are devastating and bring up so many emotions. I’m sure you’re feeling them too – anger, sadness, frustration, helplessness. So what can we do? How can we support those who are grieving, those who have been victims of racist attacks, those who are too scared to speak up when something awful has happened to them?

Here are some ideas that I have put together:

Resources for learning about the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

 

Take Bystander Intervention Training

Learn how to intervene when you witness racist attacks on the street. I recently attended an online seminar with Hollaback! for bystander intervention training. I found it super informative and it gave me the tools I need to feel confident to be able to intervene safely and the seminar is free. They have many seminars available every week via zoom.

 Details at: https://www.ihollaback.org/

 

Support for Indigenous people

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line created by the Indian Residential School Survivors Society provides support for former students and those affected by residential schools. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the toll-free 24-hour national crisis line at 1 866 925 4419.

If you’d like to donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society please visit their website: https://www.irsss.ca/

 

Lastly, we must stand up to stereotypes, prejudice and systemic racism. Have those conversations with your family and friends, even children. Be an ally, be a support person, be a good neighbor and together we can work towards creating an anti-racist society. 

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