5 ways Canadians can be an ally to Indigenous communities right now

Jun 10 2021, 7:00 am

With the recent discovery of 215 Indigenous children’s remains, you may be wondering how you can help Indigenous communities.

Daily Hive spoke to Jocelyn Formsma, Executive Director of the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC), on ways Canadians can be an ally to Indigenous communities.

The NAFC also made a statement on the discovery of the children which can be found here.

“Anybody who’s worked in our communities knows that the intergenerational effects and the harm are still very much underlying … it just really brought people back to a place of ‘this still hurts, there’s still something here,'” Formsma said.

She also said she was amazed by the “level of outpouring from everyone” who responded to this situation quickly and with care — Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

To keep up the support, here are five ways to be a great ally to Indigenous communities during this difficult time.

Support Events

Keep an eye out on social media for local events where you can show up to support and demonstrate alongside Indigenous communities. The NAFC has been holding space for these types of events. People have also set up tents, tepees, sacred fires, and shoes at local land sites or churches. In Vancouver, you can go honour the children by visiting the growing memorial of children’s shoes being lined up on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Connect with Local Representatives

Connect with your local representatives to put pressure on advancing reconciliation, and commit to child welfare reform plans. In particular, looking at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) calls to action. The volumes of reports and calls to action are given to everyone. Although it’s been six years since the reports came out, this new discovery is bringing forward how important this work is. You can find the reports here.

Donate to Indigenous Organizations

Help by donating to local Indigenous organizations that are working in this space. You can donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, providing help to survivors. The NAFC helps urban Indigenous people access the vital services they need to succeed in Canada. Orange Shirt Day is a day to support children who were taken from their homes to residential schools. Additional places you may consider donating are the local community that found the remains or other communities that want to do the same thing.

Awareness on Social Media

Use social media as a tool to spread awareness through sharing or posting resources to get the word across to more people. You can also use socials to check in on friends, family, or strangers who need support right now. Some great accounts to learn more about Indigenous history and residential schools are @ubcirshdc, @indigenouspeoplesmovement, and @reclaimyourpower. It’s also a good idea to follow Indigenous leaders and experts for more information and updates.

Educate Yourself

You can educate yourself on the impact of residential schools by reading the TRC’s reports. “Anybody who has some kind of interest in advancing Indigenous rights has to be familiar with its work. If it doesn’t change you, read it again because there is no way pages of that report can’t move you,” Formsma said.

You can also read informative books, or watch movies, or even take an Indigenous history course. In fact, the University of Alberta is offering a free Indigenous history course for anyone to take, with a whole module on residential schools.

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