Mississaugas of Scugog Island Chief LaRocca asks Indiginous leaders: What does allyship mean to you?

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Published July 21, 2021 at 9:04 pm

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There are two sides to every coin and sometimes two edges to every sword, especially if former Residential Schools are the topic of conversation.

So the announcement that the federal and provincial governments will be chipping in $9.6 million to preserve the Woodland Cultural Centre – the former Mohawk Institute Residential School near Brantford – and to support phase three of the centre’s Save the Evidence project, can be considered a good thing.

But there is also the matter of today’s news, that survivors from the school are demanding a criminal investigation into the deaths of dozens of children from the school, which closed in 1970.

For those who want to help – to be an ally – Kelly LaRocca, the Chief of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nations near Port Perry, says all you have to do is ask. That’s what she did, putting the question “What does allyship mean to you?” to Indigenous leaders around the country.

This is what they had to say:

Jeff Forbes, Councillor, Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nations

True allyship to me is to be one with your local land’s flora and fauna, to support growth, food and water; to understand each of their limitations – to create a healthy system.

Laura Colwell, Councillor, Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nations

Allyship to me is owning, acknowledging and learning from your mistakes. It is about kinship, understanding, relying on and connecting with each other to enable nation-building to become self-sustainable.

Pam Palmater, Mi’kmaw lawyer from Eel River Bar First Nation, N.B.

True Allyship is being intentional about self-educating on First Nation’s issues, with a view to taking concrete actions to support First Nations advocates in our collective efforts for justice and reparations.

Cindy Blackstock, Gitxsan activist for child welfare and Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society

Allyship means acting on the solutions that are already on the books to address the ongoing injustices toward First Nation, Metis and Inuit peoples. Caring is not enough.

Jeremy Ratt, Woods-Cree multimedia content creator and host of CBC BC’s original podcast PIECES

True allyship to Indigenous people is taking responsibility to educate oneself without the expectation of reward or praise.

Sheila North, Cree leader and journalist and former Grand Chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak

To me being an ally is about sharing the load, the burden and joys of others, in an effort to make the world a better place for all.

Photo: Peter Power, Canadian Press

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