›› Lizz Brooks & Shae Zamardi

Today, we are seeing a vast number of Indigenous Peoples reclaiming their spaces, calling for action, and building each other up. Similarly, non-Indigenous people are beginning to regularly ­acknowledge these calls and look for ways to ­support ­Indigenous Nations. But what does ­support look like? To discover how to ­support, we need to first understand who we are ­supporting.

Being Indigenous is more than one ­individual identity or monolith. Our Nations consist of hundreds to ­thousands of unique cultures, identities, and ­traditions that guide our ways of being. In British Columbia alone, there are 198 unique Indigenous Nations with their own culture filled with distinctive beliefs, ­traditions, and language. Our people consist of Elders and knowledge ­keepers, 2-spirit and queer ­individuals, healers and story tellers, ­survivors and fighters. We may have either been raised with our Nation or disconnected from it. We are ­simultaneously holding onto tradition while leading change both in the world and within our communities: each Indigenous experience is unique.

For someone who is not Indigenous, why does this matter? No matter which community you support, it is essential to understand that intersections exist within each demographic of people.

Otherwise, it can be easy to paint only one identity and unknowingly create the “are you ­Indigenous enough?” ideology that can lead to invalidation or tokenization. ­Acknowledging that there are multiple intersections helps to create a ­consciousness that each ­individual’s or Nation’s needs are distinct, and we can begin to look to them for what they need from us. When asking “how can I support Indigenous Peoples?” begin with learning about your local Nations and history, then build upon your knowledge. Each step builds the path to your winding journey.

This piece is provided by Indigenous Perspectives Society. If you would like to expand your understanding on Indigenous history, relations and allyship, please feel free to visit our website at ipsociety.ca to view the number of different trainings we have to offer in uplifting Indigenous ­sovereignty and allyship. Our next Cultural Perspectives Training is scheduled for April 29, 2021. Visit our website to register and join the discussion!