I am the descendant of Japanese & Ainu indigenous people from Ainumoshir, what is now known as Hokkaido in northern Japan, and Anglo-Germanic/Norse Europeans, all of whom were, in their turn, colonizers. I am a settler and an immigrant to Canada. I have been privileged to reside, uninvited since 2010 on the unceded, traditional territories of the Lekwungen (Esquimalt & Songhees) and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. I express my profound gratitude for their welcome and tolerance as I work to dismantle my colonial, patriarchal, and racist cultural biases.
Indigenization and Decolonization are processes, not just goals.
I choose the path of reconciliation and cross-cultural healing with great intention. I work for it (inside myself) and try to model it for others. I intentionally check my privilege and attempt to be as generous (in heart as well as in other ways) as possible.
I try to walk with respect for my place on the land, in the world, and in time (7 generations). I try to hold respect for my fellow humans, creatures, and self at the heart of my choices.
Reverence… I am astonished by the humility and resilience that all of the Indigenous People I’ve been able to connect with and build relationships with have for this work. I revere them and the humanity that it takes to even entertain such an auspicious undertaking as indigenizing the deeply entrenched colonial systems. I honestly believe that it is part of a crusade to save the world, to save humanity and that honouring this journey is the only way we will all be successful. The lessons I learn daily in this work are without boundaries or limits and apply to every element and dimension of my life.
I try to move through this work (all of my work) with quiet grace. I’m not expecting to be “changed”, I am doing the changing… always. With each new step on this path, I feel that I’ve been given an incredible privilege to share this journey at Camosun and recognize that many who will experience the post-world will not have had such loving guides. <3
Here are some of the ways I incorporate this into my daily work as President and teaching that you might like to try:
- Write a personal indigenization plan (like this one)
- Share your personal indigenization plan with your colleagues & students
- Be gentle but constant with others who are at different points of their journey
- Seek ways to promote and amplify Indigenous voices and stories
- Share Indigenous Council and Band websites
- Share news articles about issues of Indigenous Rights and Sovereignty
- Buy, read, and share books & publications written by Indigenous persons
- Buy, display, and share Indigenous art from lands you have relationships with or reside on and credit the artists
- Acknowledge the territories of Indigenous peoples in every meeting and at the beginning of every class & learn to correctly pronounce their place names
- You work & reside on
- You were born on
- You travel across and to
- Explore your family’s relationship to the land and learn the stories of Indigenous peoples that intersect with your ancestry
- Listen and reflect when Indigenous voices speak their truth. Like, Love, Upvote, Share, & re-Tweet what they say; but don’t add to, dilute, or appropriate their words for your own gratification.
These are just some of the ways that I seek to honour and emulate the intentionality, respect, reverence, humility, and grace my Indigenous colleagues, friends, teachers, and acquaintances have shown me as I learn to be better. Please, when you see me stumble – or unaware that I am misstepping; help me learn to become better by letting me know and if you’re ready, I’ll do the same for you, too.
Here are some of my favourite links and stories that I’ve shared with students, colleagues, and members recently:
- Native-land.ca – Use this map to find out what lands you are residing on, where you were born, and have lived. This is a growing resource, when I first became aware of it, there were only territories of Indigenous peoples in North America.
- W̱SÁNEĆ Resources for Settlers – Sometimes, it can be hard to figure out where to start indigenizing and decolonization. We shouldn’t require our Indigenous colleagues, friends, or acquaintances to hold our hands and show us the way, especially when helpful guides like this exist. Their entire site is wonderful.
- Signs of lək̓ʷəŋən (Esquimalt and Songhees) site markers – You can explore these seven unique site markers that designate culturally significant sites to the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations along the Inner Harbour and surrounding areas as part of your own journey to connect to the land you are residing on and better understand the significance to the peoples who stewarded it before it was settled.
- Esquimalt Nation: Language & Culture – The Esquimalt Nation is a small nation on the water of Esquimalt Harbour. Their traditional name is Xwsepsum, also written Kosapsum. Though not all nations in BC have treaty claims, the Esquimalt do through the Douglas Treaties, which have endlessly been disputed but have formed the basis for their Land Use Plan.
- Te’mexw Treaty Association – Someday, I hope to be able to refer to a new, modern treaty in my territorial acknowledgements, The City of Victoria has expressed support for these treaty negotiations which started in 1994 and are through five of the six stages in BC’s lengthy treaty process.
- Article 13 of The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) – States, “Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.” And though it went into force in Canada on Jun 21st, 2021, having already been part of the 91 Calls to Action (National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation) made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada over six years earlier, BC and most of Canada has yet to implement enough font characters to allow for Indigenous names to be registered and recognized. All you have to do is Goggle to see how widespread it is that government officials are still requiring that Indigenous parents change their infant’s names, or worse have done so without consent or consultation in order for parents to obtain a birth certificate which is required for to access government resources like a care card, tax credits, or register for daycare spots.
- By now, you know of my deep and abiding love of knitting, I was especially excited to be able to share Honouring W̱SÁNEĆ knitters: Part One as part of some of my recent territorial acknowledgements. If you didn’t know, Honouring W̱SÁNEĆ knitters: Part Two is out! How will you make sure not to miss Part Three? Subscribe to the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council Website Newsletter!
Still with me? I know what you’re going to ask me next. OMG, Lynelle, how do you keep on top of all of this? What is your secret, where do you find all this information? Well, mostly I am just looking for it and, confirmation bias says you’ll see more of it when you start paying attention. But there are other ways to help it come to you.
- Subscribe to EVERYTHING Indigenous you can! Here are a couple of great news sites written by Indigenous People telling their own stories in a way that respects the communities they report about. IndigiNews is BC Focused, and CulturalSurvival reports on Indigenous people’s issues from all over the world.
- Follow EVERYONE Indigenous you can on social media, if you “LIKE” something, tell the originator and be sure to try to find out who they are because sometimes material gets disassociated from the original author when shared on social media.
- If it isn’t clearly part of an intended media campaign movement or covered under fair use, be sure to ASK FOR PERMISSION before you use any Indigenous works for distribution. In fact, it’s usually awesome to ask for permission anyway, it lets the authors and artists know the audience they are reaching.
- All this supposes that you’ve already explored the amazing resources Camosun and our CETL Faculty have already created:
Thank you for letting me share my Personal Indigenization Statement and Practices with you. Hopefully, if you’re signed up for the CETL Course, Working Together: Indigenizing Your Course, you’ve found this useful. If you’re just starting on your journey or ready to delve deeper, you can find upcoming course offerings on the CETL LibCal where you can sign up for courses like TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW (TTW): Understanding Indigenous People and ŚW̱,ȻENEṈITEL: Doing Good Work Together is a follow up blended course to TELŦIN TŦE WILNEW: Understanding Indigenous Peoples. And maybe, I’ll see some of you at the next Indigenous Education Community of Practice!
Thank you. Iyairaykere. (イヤイライケレ。)
Comment below to share your own resources with me and others who read this page. If you are interested in sharing your own Personal Indigenization Plan with your fellow CCFA Members, send it in for the Confluence Blog!