Today is National Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This year, this day comes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic which is causing many of us to reflect on the values that are most important to us. A part of this collective reflection is on the ongoing violence that Indigenous peoples face in Canada as a result of the ongoing legacy of colonialism — and how we can all take responsibility to stop it.
Last Thursday, some of our Sierra Club BC family were able to attend a vigil that was held in front of the BC Legislature to grieve the life of Chantel Moore, a 26 year-old Tla-oqui-aht woman who was fatally shot by police in New Brunswick earlier this month. The issue of police brutality and institutionalized racism, particularly against Indigenous and Black Canadians, must be addressed.
National Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a day meant to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and languages, and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. It is also a day to learn about the history of Indigenous peoples, both before contact with European settlers and since. At Sierra Club BC, we have been grappling with our own history as an organization of causing harm to Indigenous peoples through failing to recognize Indigenous law and jurisdiction over their own territories. Some of this reflection and our commitment to do better is captured in our publication Balancing the Canoe.
Sierra Club BC is working to build stronger, more respectful and reciprocal relationships with Indigenous peoples as we strive for Indigenous perspectives to help us better respond to today’s challenges. We’re deeply grateful to Indigenous Nations and individuals who have invited us into those relationships.
Our staff are participating in some of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day events taking place today — either by following safe physical distancing protocols or by participating online. We encourage you to participate and think of different ways you can support and respect Indigenous communities and create strengthened relationships.