Reflections on National Indigenous Peoples Day

By Lenora Maracle

We have watched the public reaction to racial injustice and police brutality, we must acknowledge our own history of colonialism and the injustices that have taken place and continue today. In communities across the country, people suffer from forms of discrimination.

I want to acknowledge those who endure the effects of racism and the people who support them. So many of us are hurting and angry that cannot and should not be ignored by current events.

I stand in support of Black people, Indigenous people, People of Colour (BIPOC) and the 2SLGBTQ+, as well as people living with disabilities or limitations of any kind. I will participate in the fight against racism, oppression and marginalization.

The one-year anniversary of the release of the final report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was earlier this month. We remember and honour the daughters, mothers, grandmothers, aunties and 2SLGBTQ+people who were taken away from us, and the survivors and family and community members whose lives have been changed forever.

Colonization often leaves its mark on Indigenous populations in a way not visible to the Canadian eye.

It becomes necessary for us to connect those dots for mainstream society; to point out that suicide rates and addictions can be rooted in trauma reaching back generations. And that Indigenous languages, culture and ceremony exist today in spite of that historical trauma.

We are a resilient people. Resilience is the inner strength that helps individuals bounce back and carry on in the face of adversity. Aboriginal identity, land, culture and history are resilience.

Resilience is in Aboriginal communities.

Aboriginal people need to reclaim their traditional culture, redefine themselves as a people of their territory and reassert their distinct identity. This is decolonization.

And we need to heal. To do this we need to learn how to learn and begin a journey to wellness that involves self-care. We need to understand the forces of history that have shaped present day lifestyles. We need to discover, name and transmit indigenous knowledge, values and ways of knowing, all the while understanding selected Western ways. We need to apply and adapt both indigenous and Western knowledge, values and ways of knowing to address challenges in today’s society.

In the Mohawk Language ‘Kanaronkwa’ means love but of an intense feeling of affection and care towards another person, this how I feel for my indigenous brothers and sisters.



Lenora Maracle is the UNE’s National Equity Representative for Aboriginal Peoples.