Ask Me Anything (AMA) with Dr. Joey-Lynn Wabie & Michelle Kennedy

  • Amina

    December 7, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful response. I will implement the recommendations you provided to ensure that I do my part to support and amplify indigenous voices 🙂

  • Jennifer

    December 7, 2020 at 11:14 am

    In regards to the ‘deinstitutionalization‘ you mentioned on the factsheet: How does the nonprofit industrial complex harm the land and our relationship with it? What are some current examples of working outside / in resistance to the nonprofit sector to strengthen Indigenous sovereignty and land repatriation?

    Thank you Joey-Lynn and Michelle!

    • Joey-Lynn

      December 8, 2020 at 1:00 am

      Kwey kwey Jennifer. I wanted to answer the first part of the question you posed: How does the nonprofit industrial complex harm the land and our relationship with it?

      I believe the non profit industrial complex can harm the land and our relationship with it because it is a person-made concept that is layered upon a natural existing and living entity. The land cannot be funded under certain guidelines and rules, it does not listen to policies and funding formulas. It cannot be placed in silos of age, gender, needs, time frames…it is at one with the universe. This is where the harm takes place; when we try and fit our needs within restrictive funding and also have a healthy relationship with the land. It can feel impossible. I find comfort, strength, and power within grassroots organizations who are not restricted by funding, ages, genders, fiscal years, et cetera. There is such power within these organizations since their relationship is not with the non-profit industry but with one another and the land. Real relationships, together, with the land.

      I hope this answered the first part of your question, Jennifer. Miigwetch.

    • Michelle

      December 7, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      What are some examples of working in resistance to the non-profit sector to strengthen Indigenous sovereignty?

      Settlers can give their time, presence, and money to contribute to Indigenous sovereignty.

      With their time, settlers can educate other settlers by directing them to Indigenous created websites, podcasts, documentaries, books, articles, music, and other cultural activities. Education is important and time-consuming. Educating others is a daily commitment that Indigenous Peoples take on which can be taxing and can take away from other frontline work that needs to be done. Do not burden Indigenous Peoples by asking them to educate settlers.

      If you have money, give it to frontline workers and grassroots organizations created by and for Indigenous Peoples. Donate your money to organizations that defend Indigenous land from pipelines, mines, fracking, and theft of resources. When donating money, don’t be angry if your donation is not acknowledged, that is disruptive behaviour. Here are some places you can give to help defend the land:

      Anit-Transmoutain Pipeline Secwepmec Peoples:

      Tiny House Warriors:

      Six Nations Land Defenders 1492 Land Back Lane:

      Coastal Gaslink Defenders Wet’suwet’en Nation:

      With their presence, it is great if settlers show up and support Indigenous Peoples. In non- confrontational times (at a pow wow’s, during treaty week, or Orgage Shirt day, buying from Indigenous businesses) and in dire times (at protests, being a barrier to other settlers who harm Indigenous Peoples). If Indigenous send a call for participation from settlers to help respond to violence, show up. Do not claim to represent or speak on behalf of Indigenous Peoples. Rather, if you have an Indigenous friend, speak from the position of a friend. It is also great when settlers take note that they are too present, in workspaces, community events, or within other organizations. Make space for Indigenous people in organizational spaces and ensure they are being consulted.

      • Adam

        December 7, 2020 at 2:36 pm

        Thank you for providing some excellent resources and your answer provides clarity to a question that is often on our minds yet seldomly asked. It helps guide me, as a non-Indigenous man, in a good way. Gchii-Miigwetch!

  • Amina

    December 7, 2020 at 11:01 am

    how can non-indigenous folks support the work that’s already being done and spread awareness/message to their communities in an equitable way?

    • Michelle

      December 7, 2020 at 1:02 pm

      Shekoli, Amina!

      That is a really great question and one that many people think of. In addition to Joey’s suggestions, I would also look into what the local Friendship Center is doing. Look at their programs and services and see how you can support their work and programming.

    • Joey-Lynn

      December 7, 2020 at 12:19 pm

      Kwey kwey Amina. Allyship within Indigenous (First Nations, Metis, Inuit) communities, agencies, departments et cetera is part of the supportive structure which allows Indigenous voices to be heard and action to be taken. Allies can be seen as support although sometimes sadly also seen as barriers. This can happen when allies centre themselves around Indigenous work that is being done by and with Indigenous peoples. Instead of seeing themselves as peripheral (and still integral) support, they situate themselves within a role that may not be theirs to fill. This can be harmful to the movement in which they are involved. There are scholars that are doing work on allyship, what it means, and how to do it effectively. Lynn Gehl, Algonquin Anishinabe scholar has created an Ally Bill of Responsibilities which can be used to inform non-Indigenous people and educate them. I have listed 2 of the 16 responsibilities below:

      1. Do not act out of guilt, but rather out of a genuine interest in challenging the
      larger oppressive power structures;

      2. Understand that they are secondary to the Indigenous people that they are
      working with and that they seek to serve. They and their needs must take a
      back seat;

      You can support the work that’s already being done
      and spread awareness/message to their communities in an equitable way by situating and understanding your own role first. Once you know why you are wanting to help and the role you have it will become clearer. It is very easy to share, like, retweet Indigenous issues on social media. I would like to ensure that the messages that are being spread can also be positive. Share good stories, successful Indigenous youth who are reclaiming their identity, resources et cetera. We need to hear those messages along with the realities that land protectors and warriors face on a daily basis. Warriors on the streets, warriors raising the next generations of babies, warriors caring for Elders…every Indigenous person who is living on Turtle Island is a warrior. My friend and colleague, Dr. Celeste Pedri-Spade told me one day, “Joey, your very existence is political”. It resonated within me and I see myself as a warrior whose matriarchal line has survived so much for me to even be here.

      I am probably getting off topic here, so I will wrap it up by sharing what Erica Violet Lee, a nehiyaw (Plains Cree) iskwew shared about allies. She said we don’t need allies, we need accomplices.

      Do the work WITH Indigenous peoples, not FOR them! 🙂

  • REX

    December 3, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    The Land As Our First Teacher Factsheet by Dr. Joey-Lynn Wabie and Michelle Kennedy is now available on our Knowledge Hub! See here:

  • Adam

    November 25, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Obviously, the pandemic is affecting everyone in various ways. What I would like to know is how land-based learning and teachings from Elders to the youth/ communities are affected. Are the teachings/ guidance/ supports still able to take place regardless of the current environments?


    • Michelle

      December 7, 2020 at 1:20 pm

      Shekoli Adam,

      I think that these are indeed challenging times and everyone is required to adjust their lifestyle to ensure the safety of themselves, their families, and communities. I agree with Joey’s post and think that there are many limitations to traditional teaching and gathering to learn that knowledge. What I do know is that Indigenous Peoples are resilient and resourceful! I have seen many examples of how Indigenous Peoples are adjusting to COVID-19 social distancing measures. One great example I saw was the Assembly of Seven Generations (@a7g_official) gathering to create a community garden in Algonquin Territory. This is what they posted on their Instagram platform, “This past weekend we helped out our organizational mentor/knowledge keeper @naughtondonna from Kateri Native Ministry. We helped dig up a huge community garden so that we can harvest food next spring for the community. It was a lot of work but a rewarding experience to work with our hands on the land for the day. Miigwetch to everyone who helped us out.” A7G was able to accommodate COVID restrictions, while still providing cultural support and empowerment for youth.

    • Joey-Lynn

      December 7, 2020 at 11:32 am

      Kwey kwey Adam. Great question! The pandemic definitely has changed the manner in which many people gather. Also, older adults are one of the high-risk groups that can have fatal effects with COVID-19. Elders are held in high regard in many Indigenous (First Nation, Metis, Inuit) communities so the risk of exposing them is too high. Amadou Hampâté Bâ shared, ” In Africa, when an old man dies, it’s a library burning”. When an Elder or older adult dies in one of our communities, they are taking stories, wisdom, genealogical history, et al. with them. We want to protect our Elders and older adults with love and kindness which may mean not interacting with them in person and requesting ceremonies et cetera in person.

      There are other ways of communication that can be used: phones, letters, and modern technology! The teachings/guidance/supports are still able to take place but the delivery of it may be different. We, as Indigenous peoples, also are able adjust to the new ‘normal’ and ensure the transmission of knowledge and teachings still happen. I see a lot of online teachings happening! One thing I have noticed is when a person passes and is on their way to the Spirit World, many people are left in grief and are unable to gather. Small outdoor gatherings with strict physical distancing guidelines and masks may work in these situations, while being mindful of the Elder in attendance and keeping them safe and healthy. Miigwetch, Adam. I hope this answered your question!

  • Erika

    November 24, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    A question for the panel…what do you think of the Orange Shirt Movement? Does it benefit Indigenous communities? Is it too settler focused?

    • Joey-Lynn

      December 7, 2020 at 12:40 pm

      <div>Kwey kwey, Erica. I think the Orange Shirt Day movement allowed all people to get involved in a manner which they recognized. Settlers are able to wear shirt to show solidarity with Indigenous peoples in a way that seems ‘easy’ and that can be incorporated within agencies, schools, institutions that does not require a lot of resources. One thing I don’t necessarily enjoy about Orange Shirt Day is that settlers can take the shirt off and resume their regular lives while this is Indigenous peoples reality. We are living with the intergenerational traumas that our family members who attended residential schools have endured and are still healing from. Even so, I do believe that Orange Shirt Day is important and I will continue to support it and participate because it was created from Phyllis (Jack) Webstad’s story about her first day of residential school. Unfortunately, this story is similar to many of the children who attended residential schools. We can never forget.

      I agree with Michelle. Orange Shirt Day events and activities need to have authentic involvement from Indigenous peoples and focus on education and awareness. In this manner, when the shirt is removed and it is no longer September 30, the knowledge and stories remain.


    • Michelle

      December 7, 2020 at 11:24 am

      I think that Orange Shirt Day is a time for settlers to listen to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples. It is a day of remembrance and for survivors to speak about the impacts of IRS and how it has affected individual, family, and community relations. I think settlers should participate in Orange Shirt Day as it not only represents a validation of historical harms but also the current needs to recognize that every child matters, including in the present. I think it is beneficial to the Indigenous community and for settlers relations that on September 30th IRS survivors are honored and remembered. It contributes to education and can lead to an accurate understanding of history. Settlers have can take part in honouring survivors by listening and wearing an Orange Shirt. Where I think it can go sideways is when settlers host events but do not invite the community or Elders to speak. It is important to make space and time for Indigenous Peoples to speak about their own experiences. Settlers need to be aware of where the spotlight is on September 30th, give up power, and make room for Indigenous voices.

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