Date Added: November 18, 2022
Betty Kayla’s presentation shows that she is proud of her heritage and wants to keep it intact. Consequently, she embarked on a journey to learn more about the traditions of her ancestors so she could document them and preserve them for future generations. From a personal standpoint, culture and traditions are integral to human life and are the cornerstone of human existence. Learning about your culture gives you a deeper understanding of the previous generations’ ways. In her presentation, Kayla reveals how her father taught her the Taos Pueblo Hoop Dance, practiced hundreds of years ago in the southeastern USA (Kayla, 2017). She further reveals that by watching the dance, she gained a deeper understanding of her ancestors’ view of the world around them. Indeed, the opportunity to witness the Taos Pueblo Hop Dance was a cultural turning point for Kayla, a magical experience that will forever remain embedded in her memory.
Kayla narrates to the audience how her curiosity made her embark on a journey to find her voice. She yearned to reclaim the stories of her heritage. She wanted to integrate her culture into films and music and then share them with the rest of the world. I was shocked to learn that Kayla grew up in a multigenerational family together with members of her extended family. It was perturbing since, like most people, I grew up in a nuclear family where the only members present were my parents and siblings. Although it was good for Kayla to know her multiple roots, it was pretty confusing since she never felt she was enough of a Dutch-Indonesian, Chinese, or Native (Kayla, 2017). I agree with Kayla’s perspective that we should never ignore our cultures, however, modernized we are. Our culture is the identity that makes us visible and allows us to transfer cultural practices to future generations.
The Indian Act Explained Interview with Bob Joseph 21 Things you may not know about the Indian Act
Watching Bob Joseph’s interview provides a new perspective on how the indigenous communities in Canada were subjected to discrimination hinged on the law. Joseph says the Indian Act aimed to assimilate Indians into the nation’s political and economic mainstream (“The Indian Act Explained”). More specially, the Indian Act targeted Indian women. According to the Act, Indian women who married men of non-Indian descent lost their status and had to leave the reserve. On the other hand, Indian men who married women outside their ethnicity were not affected by the Indian Act. On the contrary, the non-Indian women they married would gain status and privileges.
By looking at laws such as the Indian Act, it is evident that they were retrogressive and created a double standard. From the Act, I can draw parallels with other laws that have discriminated against women and subjugated them in other parts of the world. For instance, before World War II, laws prevented most women from voting or working in the United States. However, the onset of the war created many vacancies in factories and other sectors since most men had been drafted into the war. Therefore, women moved in to fill those vacancies, signifying the start of women working in America and earning wages just like men.
Another challenge of the Indian Act was the loss of native culture. Under the provisions of the law, Indians were placed in reserves, where they were expected to assimilate and abandon their culture. Worse still, they did not own the land under which they lived, denying them property rights. People should be allowed to preserve their culture and language since it is their identity. For instance, the Indian Act renamed individuals with European names and stopped them from using their traditional names. Bob Joseph provides himself as an example, revealing how he was given a European name in place of his ethnic name, Sam Noquilla (“The Indian Act Explained”).
Truth and Reconciliation Senator Murray Sinclair: The Truth is Hard. Reconciliation is Harder
In his keynote speech, Senator Murray Sinclair emphasizes the importance of forgiveness as a starting point for reconciliation. He provides an example of South Africa of how Bishop Desmond Tutu was at the center stage of the healing process through the Truth and Reconciliation committee. He took his role in the committee to emphasize to both the victims and perpetrators of apartheid to forgive one another and to move forward and build their nation (“Senator Murray Sinclair”). In addition, Senator Murray Sinclair stresses the need to establish proper relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous people to quell underlying tensions. He avers that for the two groups of people to interact efficiently, they must respect one another. According to him, a lack of respect will create imbalance and an aspect of dominance that will further worsen the situation.
For healing to be achieved in Canada, there must be proper relationships between First Nations and non-indigenous communities. They have to learn to coexist and work towards improving their society. For that to be achieved, I believe both the victims and perpetrators should unite and solve their differences amicably. The settlers must ask the natives for forgiveness for annexing their lands, limiting their freedoms through boarding schools, and mutilating their culture. Indeed, reconciliation will only occur if the challenges affecting the First Nations communities are addressed conclusively. For instance, Murray reveals how incarceration rates among First Nations communities are among the highest in the world in any ethnic community (“Senator Murray Sinclair”). Besides, preventable diseases like tuberculosis continue to wreak havoc among indigenous people and lead to adverse health outcomes. For true reconciliation to occur, challenges such as lack of safe drinking water and limited education opportunities among the indigenous people must be addressed to prevent feelings of disenfranchisement.
A Documentary by Tasha Hubbard
Tasha Hubbard narrates how Colton Bushies was killed in cold blood and how the demonstrations led to violence and death. She wonders how her Cree people can be killed in their territory, where they should live freely and in peace. After informing her parents that she would write about the injustice surrounding Colton’s death, they advised her to film it (Hubbard, 2020). Consequently, she embarked on a tour of her Cree territory to investigate the people’s feelings regarding the murder of Colton Bushies. Her tour revealed how her people were unwilling to have specific conversations regarding the injustices perpetrated upon them.
Although most of the community members did not want to talk about the injustices, they did not want Colton’s death to be in vain. They wanted justice for a young man whose life was taken abruptly without any reason.
Under the slogan “Justice for Colton,” they embarked on a process to lobby the responsible authorities to take action and bring the perpetrators to book. They agitated for the special rapporteur to survey discrimination and systemic racism perpetrated against indigenous communities within the corridors of justice in Canada (Hubbard, 2020). Professor Hubbard acknowledges that the easiest way to heal is for people to have uncomfortable conversations regarding racism and injustice against the natives. From a personal standpoint, I believe the First Nations communities should be given a right to express their culture and live freely on their land without being subjected to unnecessary violence. Government agencies should be at the forefront to guarantee all citizens the right to life and freedom of expression. In her closing remarks, she says that things can only change if there is a willingness to change by the responsible authorities.
Reporting in Indigenous Communities Online Guide to Indigenous Coverage
For decades, indigenous communities in Canada have not had a chance to air their voices on many issues due to poor media coverage. Duncan McCue is one of the journalists who noticed this anomaly and decided to create a platform where issues affecting indigenous communities will get the light of day. He, therefore, came up with Reporting in Indigenous Communities (RIIC). McCue pitched his ideas to the John’s Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University as an educational guide to help journalists who cover stories in First Nations communities. The university provided a supportive environment that enabled him to launch in the Fall of 2011 (McCue, 2011).
McCue desired to bring together journalists, students, and educators to find better ways of highlighting stores in indigenous communities. Being an Ojibwa, he understands that his community has been sidelined over the years, denying it a chance to air its story. He provided an example of an artist who rapped in her indigenous language and taught it to her baby (McCue, 2011). Duncan McCue is sure that if journalists are offered opportunities to learn about indigenous people, whether online or in a classroom, the audiences will benefit more. Other journalists should learn from McCue and cover previously unknown stories from marginalized communities. Such a feat can be accomplished when institutions like universities partner with journalists and provide them with funding and a platform to undertake their work.
I agree with McCue on covering stories in indigenous communities and disseminating the information to the world. Doing so will decrease marginalization and give the rest of the world a better understanding of the cultures of indigenous people. Such a practice will gradually decrease negative cultural differences and discrimination that have been meted out against the members of indigenous communities.
- Hubbard, T. (2020). nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up – interview with director Tasha Hubbard. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmm-kaGrWBo
- Kayla, B. (2017). “Why Do I Make Art? To Build Time Capsules for My Heritage.” TED Talk. https://www.ted.com/talks/kayla_briet_why_do_i_make_art_to_build_time_capsules_for_my_heritage/transcript
- McCue, D. (2011). Knight Fellowships Talks. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_t6CLSzIroE&t=74s
- Senator Murray Sinclair: The truth is hard. Reconciliation is harder. (Oct 27, 2017). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SxtH_E6FqVo
The Indian Act Explained. (n.d.). The Agenda with Steve Paikin. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhBrq7Ez-rQ