July 2, 2021

Reflections on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Honouring June 21 at FoodShare

June 21, National Indigenous Peoples’ Day is now a permanent paid shutdown date for all staff at FoodShare. This is one of the commitments we have made to truth and reconciliation.  

We plan to use this day each year to celebrate and honour Indigenous peoples and the ways  Indigenous leadership, knowledge and stewardship has helped make life better for all. At the same time, we will also use it to acknowledge the ongoing harm of colonization and to support  folks and organizations fighting for Indigenous rights across Turtle Island. You can read our full statement about the importance of this day from 2020 here.

FoodShare will also shut down for September 30, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to remember and reflect on the ways in which this country’s residential school system has caused—and continues to cause—tremendous harm to Indigenous peoples. 

We encourage other organizations to do the same. 

This year, a few members of our team shared their reflections on Indigenous Peoples’ Day and how they spent June 21. We’ve shared their submissions below.

Markus: One of the things I did on June 21 was go for a walk and visit the first bookstore I’ve been in in over a year.  I picked up Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga and started reading it that afternoon. Special shout out to Queen Books in Leslieville for their great selection of works by Indigenous authors. 

Fateha: I spent time thinking about solidarity, empathy, and standing alongside our communities while being able to critique larger systems at play eg. capitalism, white supremacy, settler colonialism. As well, I realise as a settler, when we read the UNDRIP and the TRC reports, it’s also important to think about how to implement/action out the recommendations in our day to day in tangible ways. I think with all allyship, we will never be perfect and can never think that we will be able to reach some pinnacle of knowledge and then stop trying. We have to keep trying, do our research, continue to interrogate ourselves, and show up. The Treaties and Indigenous Traditional Knowledge Frameworks are such important values for us to really sit with and then go into our lives to practice them, especially in the face of so much continuing oppression against Indigenous peoples. 

Katie G:

Paul: I spent a chunk of the day reading this book that pushes back on the settler colonial narratives used to rationalize land theft. I bought it on a trip to Six Nations Reserve awhile back. 

jade: June 21 was my last day camping at Algonquin National Park, the traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg. Before my trip, I spent some time reading about the histories and stories shared by the traditional caretakers of these lands, and learning about the ongoing Algonquin land claim. I shared these new learnings with friends, had conversations about the things we knew and were trying to learn (and mostly, unlearn). 

Toes in the soil, floating in the water, I reflected on how this very land was stolen through colonization to create the park I was camping in. Reflected on how in that very moment of occupying that space, I was benefitting from these ongoing processes of displacement and genocide. Considered my own complicity in them as a settler/daughter of immigrants.

I read by the lake, turning these words from the first few pages of Billy-Ray Belcourt’s memoir over in my mind, digesting them as deeply and wholly as I could: “Nôhkom, I’m not safe. Canada is still in the business of gunning down NDNs. What’s more, state violence commonly manifests as a short-circuited life, one marked by illness, sadness, and other negative affects by which we become ruled until what remains of a body is a ghoulish trace. Despite the stories of progress and equality at the core of Canada’s national identity, a long tradition of brutality and negligence is what constitutes kinship for the citizens of a nation sat atop the lands of older, more storied ones. I can’t promise I won’t become snared in someone’s lethal mythology of race. What I can do is love as though it will rupture the singularity of Canadian cruelty (irrespective of whether this is a sociological possibility). Herein lies my poetic truth.”

Photo by my lovely friend Chris M. 

Moorthi: I was reflecting on how Canada was so quick to blame other countries like Sri Lanka for the genocide of its people but Canada, as of now, has not acknowledged that the government of Canada was actively involved in genocide against First Nations people. Canada is first in the line to point out about human rights violations but fails to look at themself and what they have done. 

Moe: I spent time learning about and caring for some new plants in my garden (this summer I have been learning about Indigenous plant medicine with Dr. Jacqui Wilkins (@among_the_wildflowerss). I also re-visited one of my favourite books, Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta.

Andrea: I spent time reflecting on a talk on 1492 Land Back Lane I’d attended the day prior given by spokesperson Skyler Williams. Skyler spoke about everything from the legal battles, the hard work of returning the land to what it ought to be and the joy of being out at camp and seeing animals like the raccoons on the land and even hearing the coyotes in the distance. On Monday evening I happened upon a family of racoons here in the city and, for much longer than I usually would, watched them climb and play in a tree. I spent some time in quiet gratitude to land and water protectors, renewing my personal commitment to support them whenever and however I can. As a settler who grew up in Caledonia, this particularly includes supporting the moratorium on development from the source to the mouth of the Grand River and the awesome and vital work of initiatives like Protect the Tract. (Others who are interested can sign Sign E-Petition 3466 before July 31, 2021). Any day off for me is spent with lots of littles, so when I hung out with my baby cousin, and did my auntie story time duty on Zoom we read books by Indigenous authors, including one of the bigger kids’ favourites: Go Show the World by Wab Kinew