We Want Our Own …


I am awake, I am alive, and this morning my thoughts are many …

I began this day in observation mode, watching as men and women from many nations, in many locations, shared their thoughts on racism, nationalism, colonialism, and what it is to them to be ___________ (insert one of many many Indigenous identities in the blank). Their individuality (a fact that I have long stressed with those I meet) was obvious with every statement I read, which got me thinking, “What do I want? As an Anishnaabekwe in 2019, what do I want and what do the people who think like me want?”

My answer surprised me even as it made me smile, for my thoughts lead me to the realization that many Indigenous are long past “wanting to be part” of whatever structure non-Indigenous Western European-style Canadian culture has going on.

We don’t want to be teachers in your institutions because it so often means having to speak your way, biting off our very words, thoughts, and breath.

We don’t want to sit in your legislature because again our words, our ways, our thoughts will fall on silent ears as we are forced to tow the party line and abandon who we are in the process.

We don’t want to work in your corporations, used as the tool, the costume to convince our Indigenous brothers and sisters that the corporation’s agenda is somehow acceptable because they hired one of our own.

We don’t want to be hired (and soon after fired) by mining companies or forestry companies or hydro companies or gas companies with agendas that have little or no respect for Mother Earth.

We want our own.

Because an Indigenous university will welcome alternative styles of teaching and learning, a student-centered approach that works with human beings not enrollment numbers.

Because a corporation owned and operated by Indigenous will be equipped to make the tough call, having been raised on the land so often under discussion by these very entities.

And for communities who choose to be part of oil, mining, and/or forestry operations, an Indigenous-owned entity, owned by the very Indigenous whose land is being ripped open or deforested, is the only type of entity that will truly care about what they do to the land of their people, and what is left behind after the profit-making is done.

So no, for many of us, we no longer want to be part of a Canadian non-Indigenous structure but we welcome you to play a part in ours. Not as the decision-makers for that would reduce our entity to a token representation of what it truly could be. But feel free to join us at our table as advisers and consultants on trade agreements and foreign entities. Trust that we will hear your words, treating you with far more respect that most of us have ever been treated at the table of Canadian business.

Yes, for many, we have had enough of “being included” in your endeavors, realizing now that the inclusion is nothing more than assimilation in modern form. But when we sit at the head of our boardroom tables, when our people again make the decisions for our land, guided by others but not deciding with others, then we will start to see the two-row wampum come to life.

We are done hoping you will ask us to play. We are done begging to be included. A new tide is rising and it is glorious and perhaps you too will be included.

Food for thought on this beautiful summer day in 2019.



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