›› Lizz Brooks, Indigenous Perspectives Society
As time moves forward, we have seen a lot this last year in terms of Indigenous relations. Individuals and organizations across Canada have made big steps towards progress, likewise, we have also witnessed many missteps along the way. With the constant changing and news, there has been a lot of discussion around what it means to be an effective ally. Ally, supporter, advocate, accomplice… there are many titles that have been created throughout time as individuals continue to grow and support our Indigenous peoples. So, what does that look like?
Everyone has a unique role in supporting Indigenous sovereignty, and in order to do good work, allies are essential at every level. Allies can be seen publicly advocating for Indigenous rights, changing their work environments to remove potential barriers, or having regular conversations with their own inner circles to break down biases. To break down these biases and provide appropriate support, knowing our own levels of privilege helps us to learn both where it may impede our ally work and where we can use it as leverage. With this, we can begin to understand when is appropriate to sit back, listen, and uplift the Indigenous voices that are speaking compared to when we need to use our own voice. Depending on the individual, either speaking up or sitting back can be a challenge, and that’s completely normal.
Decolonization is not about doing things “right,” but rather it is about taking risks and being ok with not having all the answers. If you ever don’t know the answer to a question or with what steps to take next, don’t be afraid search online, in books or ask someone who can help you. If you are ever wondering about protocols or next steps, looking to your local nations for guidance is often invaluable support.
As we continue to walk together, it will be a bumpy path at times, and that’s okay. In the end, it’s not about how bumpy the path is, but rather, it is the way we walk and our willingness to adjust our steps when necessary.
Photo caption: 7 Indigenous Perspectives Society staff members together outside of a wood building on a sunny day holding their hand drums. Staff are both Indigenous and allies. Their drums are painted with varying colourful West Coast lineart designs. Photo: Kelly Legge