Economic Reconciliation

Re Culturalization

March 04, 2021

“As inherent sovereigns, Native nations have for millennia exercised the prerogatives of self-government, self-determination, and self-education within their territorial land base. Settler colonial incursion and dispossession have constrained, but not extinguished Indigenous sovereignty (though not for lack of trying). “

Unfolding Futures: Indigenous Ways of Knowing for the Twenty-First Century

As you have potentially read in my previous stories, our culture is still alive and well. For the most part, quite intact, albeit, maybe a bit modernized or slightly altered, based on the memory of those who survived.  Considering the devastating history between settler Canadians and the First Peoples of this land, our cultures have endured the potlach ban, removal from our territory and placed onto reservations, residential school, and so much more. Many of our languages are now extinct, which makes it more challenging to piece our culture together thoroughly as so much of who we are is based on land and language. However, even my Nation, Squamish, who is in the heart of Vancouver, has its culture which is experienced well throughout the community. However, this doesn’t mean more can’t be done. Many of our communities have been displaced into urban centres for many reasons and do not get to experience their culture, language and land regularly.

Just as integral in this journey of reconciliation and decolonization, is reculturalization. What does this mean? You’re wondering, is this really a thing? It’s just as real as Indigenous Futurism. It is not a common word, but it does meaning. For me it is the next step after decolonization. To bring Indigenous culture into the mix of things, such as education, curriculum, entrepreneurship, business, etc.  The BC Government, Indigenous organizations and businesses, and some schools, are working on reculturaliization.  Bringing the local First Nations’ cultures not only to the table, but into policy, papers, documents, agreements, plans, strategy, etc.

As I have mentioned before, it’s not just about acknowledging the local First Nations culture but respecting and accepting at face value.  Albeit, it may not fit your ‘norm’, your value system, your system, but it is ours.  It is not less than, in any way. It actually may hold more value than you may want to admit.  Some non-Indigenous spaces have already except it as paramount in the shift required in many non-Indigenous systems.  There is absolute value in our knowing; my ancestors knew this, I know this and our children know it.  This isn’t about control, power or being right.  This is about balance, truth, and wanting a new way of being in our lives today.

So many people are tired of our current ways. I know myself, my family and those that I am close to are exhausted of it: consumerism, racism, disparity, inequity, inequality, homelessness, poverty, and the like.  Many just want a slower paced, less hectic, peaceful and less demanding lifestyle where we aren’t consumed with material wealth, where we respect each other and all living things, where there no longer exists extreme wealth-based privilege, etc.  We need to change our perspective about what we value, how we value it and how we care for everything.

This is where Indigenous culture comes into play.  If you dare to learn anything about us, learn that we value more than objects, trinkets, destruction and consumption.  You will learn that we value our language (even though we may not be able to speak it), songs, dances, ceremony, protocols, land, water, all living creatures, our spirit, our ancestors, our children, and so much more.  We value the stages in our lives, dancing our big houses awake because they require life, the power in coming of age, our role and responsibility to protect and sustain the land and resources through our inherent relationships with them, that our spirit is connected to everything, that we are powerful sovereign people of our territory. The richness of our knowing is not fluffy, devoid of realism, nor solely objective or subjective.  The depths of who we are will never really be fully known unless you are a part of our communities. However, we are willing to share some of it for the benefit of humanity and all things.

So, this story is about moving into a space of knowing not just the history of Canadian colonization on our people. But to explore, learn and embrace our culture as a way of being in your lives. Truly and wholly. Not just at the surface. We have a ton to offer, you just have to express a willingness to learn, listen and practice.  Building a positive partnership takes time, commitment, and a positive working relationship in a meaningfully engaged way. Let’s always take the opportunity to go a bit deeper each time in our reconciliation efforts to find new ways of being, knowing and doing.  We can always do more, as this makes us better for our up and coming leaders of tomorrow.  They are always watching, listening and observing our actions. I want my son to witness great things and strive for the same when he is leading in the not so distant future.