Idle No More
A summary of the aboriginal forum.
On a recent trip to Inuvik, Trinity Western University Siya:m Patti Victor had the privilege of sharing about TWU’s A+ quality of education, campus life, and Aboriginal programs and services at high schools, a youth group, and a career fair.
“Everyone I met was welcoming and inquisitive of TWU,” she says, “including the mayor, tribal council leaders, pastors, elders, and students.”
On February 2, TWU hosted an “Idle Know More”(INM) public education forum on campus to foster dialogue about the national indigenous movement.
“Part of the focus of a university is learning from one another,” explains Patti Victor. “Idle No More addresses injustices to aboriginal communities.” Protests and rallies have been held over the past several months across the country. Thanks to a huge social media presence, the ongoing grassroots movement has gained momentum and international support. According to INM’s website, their goals include protecting and conserving the environment, social and economic equality, and aboriginal sovereignty.
Panelist Kathleen Lounsbury, MSN nursing student from Alert Bay, Kwakwaka'waka Nation, has worked in health care programs in several First Nations communities throughout BC. “We agreed in treaties to share lands, not to give them away,” says Lounsbury, “We must keep this bargain to care for the land together. This will be the beginning of trying to restore the relationship between Canada and the First Nations people.”
Sto:lo Fisheries Manager, Ernie Victor, points out that traditional songs honor every piece of life in contrast to the current focus of fishery issues. “The mandate is the exploitation of fish, not on protecting the salmon; whereas true conservation is honouring the salmon and giving thanks back for this provision,” he explains. “I simply ask for more respect for life.”
Dr. Wenona Victor appreciates what INM is doing, “It humbles me. I am rejuvenated by INM. At a protest rally I saw inspired and inquisitive faces and three-year olds with drums. I watched my eight-year old drum in public without fear. A generation ago, he would have been punished for this.”
In regard to governance issues Dr. Victor believes, “If you are going to live on someone’s land you must understand their ways of being. There is wisdom and genius in that. Justice is about teaching and moving towards good.”
The Q&A included comments from the audience about the ripple effect of trauma, feelings of residual guilt, and the use of terms that can isolate or put people on the defensive. Discussion centered on how best to repair past harms and how the act of healing brings about hope and empowerment.
Pastor Andrew Victor closed the gathering with thanks to those who shared from their hearts. “It all comes down to relationship,” he says, “We want to walk in a way so as not to destroy; we want to honour all life. We have facilitated this today with a holistic look at health, arts, culture, governance, and the importance of all of these areas in terms of aboriginal issues and the INM movement.” This is merely one of countless teach-ins, protests, and rallies inspired by INM across the country. INM’s impact is unmistakeable. Dr. Victor confirms, “INM is not going anywhere.”
The APC hosts monthly Circle Talks, open to all. The next session will be held on Tuesday, April 9th from 4:00-5:00pm in the West Coast Collegium. Cheri Brown is a proud citizen of the Nisga’a Nation. Her family line is Wilp Gisk’aast, House of the Killer Whale. www.idlenomore.ca