The National Indigenous Peoples History month is traditionally a time when Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities come together across Turtle Island to celebrate Indigenous culture and achievements as well as learn about Indigenous social structures, languages and spirituality to name only a few aspects of complex Indigenous social systems.
Regardless of where or how you recognize this month though, National Indigenous Peoples History month also implores us all to remember the various atrocities committed against Indigenous communities and peoples across Turtle Island. We must all take pause to honour the survivors of the Residential School system and Sixties Scoop, as well as countless other Indigenous peoples continually subjected to violence and discrimination by law enforcement agencies and colonial systems.
This month asks us to understand that colonization was not an isolated event of this nation’s history but is present today as a structure, revealing itself through systemic discrimination, boil water advisories, gendered and lateral violence, as well as unwarranted prejudice and ignorance amongst non-Indigenous communities.
Our call to action for National Indigenous Peoples History month is this: Instead of saying “I didn’t know”, learn. Commit to engaging in the uncomfortable conversations within the justice community as it grapples with realities of anti-Black and Indigenous racism and genocide.
Indigenous Services offered at the Human Rights Legal Support Centre employs Indigenous staff who provide services at every stage of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal process and works to increase access to justice in Indigenous communities.