July 24th, 2024

The time for real action is now: Cultural advocate says indigenous voices must be heard, understood

By Tim Kalinowski on July 22, 2017.


tkalinowski@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNTimKal

Cultural knowledge advocate Lance Scout of the Blood Tribe says he understands why many Hatters might be confused about an increase in protest activity among First Nations peoples in recent months. However, Scout says there are very good reasons why indigenous peoples are raising their voices so loudly in Canada’s 150th year.

“I would emphasize the call to action included in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in their final report,” he says. “That’s the emphasis of this whole process. It deals with all issues of social justice, murdered and missing indigenous women, the 60s Scoop, Indian residential schools system, poverty and intergenerational trauma. And also the whole aspect of youth suicides among First Nations.”

Scout says this call to action follows many years of lip-service given to indigenous peoples and issues by successive Canadian governments without taking any substantial actions to alleviate the crushing social and economic conditions of those peoples.

“It is the system which does not work for us. This isn’t a recent thing. You’ve got to think back since 1492, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue … I do believe that is why these chiefs, for example, chose not to go to meet with the premiers last week, and sit at the kiddy’s table.

“This whole call to action is not about taking up arms,” adds Scout. “What it means is to actually lobby, support and take action to love indigenous people for who they are.”

Scout says there is also an unacknowledged difference in values at play, which has made for a shared ignorance between First Nations and the European Christian and industrial perspective of many other Canadians. He gives the example of the ongoing fight over the Standing Rock pipeline down in the United States to illustrate this point.

“We as indigenous people think of the black snake (Standing Rock oil pipeline) as destructive, as a disease,” says Scout. “That’s why we don’t want it crossing our reserves or the sacred river, the Missouri. These pipelines are all over, but to go across sacred land … It’s killing us, what this industry is doing, and at the same time it is offering a convenience; it got me to work here. So I am not advocating a radical approach, I am just taking an awareness approach.”

Scout says despite the poisonous colonial legacy which haunts all Canadians, he sees possibilities for hope going forward.

“We might have our differences but it will be our children in the corner playing together to make a difference,” he says. “They don’t worry about what colour they are, from what nation, or who was here first. They are there playing together, and that’s where I believe and find hope; because that is the natural law.”

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