interVivos continues to be committed to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. For us, this is an ongoing commitment to establishing respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. We need to be aware of the true history of Indigenous peoples, the harm that has been inflicted, then take action to make things right.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission defines reconciliation as “establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada. For that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, an acknowledgment of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behavior.”
On September 30th, 2021, interVivos joined millions of Canadians in marking the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day honours the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process. Unfortunately, so many more terrible things have happened to Indigenous peoples in Canada, beyond Residential Schools. For example, the Sixties Scoop, forced adoptions, and theft of land.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation got us thinking more about our relationship with Indigenous peoples in our community and why it’s essential for us as an organization to continue to inform ourselves about colonialism and systemic racism. Colonialism attempts to transform Indigenous identities to conform to the governing society. As a result, colonial systems cause damage to Indigenous economies, laws, spiritual traditions, politics, and gender relations. Systemic racism, also known as institutional racism, refers to how whiteness and white superiority become embedded in the policies and processes of an institution, resulting in a system that advantages white people and disadvantages Indigenous and racialized people, notably in employment, education, justice, and social participation.
We are always looking for ways to amplify Indigenous mentors and showcase the impressive work in our community. Indigenous peoples are generally underrepresented in leadership positions. It is important for us to create an environment that values diversity. Our Fall 2020 mentorship program was focused exclusively on Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (or BIPOC) mentors. Check out another blog post about two Indigenous mentors from that program and their experiences as leaders in the community: https://intervivos.ca/meet-the-gwin-sisters/. We’ve also held community engagement events with Indigenous leaders, such as a non-partisan discussion on the Idle No More movement. Please reach out to us with names of potential Indigenous volunteer mentors or guest speakers for our community events at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working with Indigenous peoples means allyship, prioritizing advocacy, and above all, participating in the justice of reconciliation that supports a resurgence of Indigenous sovereignty. In dealing with the effects of colonialism, we are obligated to seek reconciliation for wrongs done. So what will we do?
- Be fiercely committed to concrete actions because this is an act of reconciliation, returning what is owed for past and ongoing injustices inflicted on Indigenous peoples.
- Include anti-colonialism practices in our work.
- Participate in Indigenous-focused anti-oppression and colonialism training.
- Continue to intentionally include and support Indigenous peoples in our mentorship programs and community engagement events.
- Continue to amplify Indigenous voices, fiercely support equality, and be an ally for Indigenous causes and issues.
Continue to follow our blog to find out more about our journey of reconciliation. Are you looking for a pledge to get you started on your commitment to reconciliation? Check out this personal pledge with some commitments you can weave into your life.