On September 10th I published content on my platforms about honouring the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call for everyone in Canada to recognise September 30th as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Those posts (social and blog) were inspired by an incredibly wise Indigenous educator, Megan Tipler, who can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook (@tiplerteaches). Megan is a teacher by training, but left her position in the classroom to work at the University of Alberta as the Program Support Coordinator in the Faculty of Education’s Aboriginal Teacher Education Program. She has also begun work on her Master’s degree, all while leading conversations about the TRC’s Call to Action #80.
For several weeks, Megan has used her social media platforms to draw attention to the fact that as of press time, only 45 of the 63 schools in Alberta have agreed to honour Call to Action #80 and close in observance of that day. She has also called upon fellow Albertans and community members to get informed and take action by providing information and incredible resources, including email templates to edit and send to trustees and senior administrators. I am in awe of the emotional labour Megan has invested in creating a long-overdue understanding and change.
Two things I want this addendum to address:
1. Honouring this day by holding space, as per the request of the TRC, is a critical action as we move towards reconciliation. If you are part of a school division that has yet to honor the TRC’s Call to Action #80, as 45 other school divisions have done, please consider the message that is being sent,
2. Navigating this territory of amplification and systemic change is a space that I have long avoided for fear that I wouldn’t “get it right”. And here’s what I’m learning: I will most certainly get it wrong. I am no expert in this space. My ignorance of the history and experiences of the people in the country where I was born and raised is brought to my awareness daily. In fact, I received significant feedback after my post from a wise soul who so graciously reminded me how much I need to learn in this place—how easy it is for an attempt at amplification to cross over into the centering of my own voice.
I am sharing my learnings with you because, quite honestly, I know I can do better every day. I learned how important it is for me to front-line my acknowledgment and appreciation for Megan Tipler’s work, Jesse Thistle’s work, and the Braided Arrows team co-led by Rachelle Bell.
Further, though I attached a “trigger warning” to the post (as I have learned the importance of signalling potentially violent or oppressive language), I carelessly worded the trigger warning “Indigenous Activism Content”. This was more a warning to those who might not want to read the content rather than a gesture of care for those who have suffered the effects of intergenerational trauma and genocide.
Friends, I share this with you because I am on a path of continued growth and learning, and I hope you are, too. There will be many times when we will get it wrong as we try to navigate this world of relationships and connections, particularly when we are called to confront racism, systemic oppression, violence, and trauma. Learning from those mistakes is part of growing.
Standing back to let marginalized folks lead the way, and working to do better means that we can no longer be silent, pay lip service, or participate in empty gestures. Change is messy, but it is our duty to participate. Sitting back and doing nothing because it is comfortable or safe can no longer be an option.
I’m so grateful to this community for teaching me (especially the amazing teacher Amanda Bourassa @barefootpanda on IG and @mandabourassa on Twitter), again and again, about what it means to grow, learn, fuck it up, get back up and try again. This will not be the last time we talk about learning and growing in this space.