As September 30th approaches, Canada gears up to commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day holds immense significance as it acknowledges the painful history and ongoing struggles faced by Indigenous communities. It is a day for all Canadians to reflect on the impact of colonialism, oppression, and racism on the lives of Indigenous peoples. One crucial issue that has been exacerbated by these historical injustices is domestic violence within Indigenous communities.
In this blog post, we will explore how colonialism and systemic oppression have contributed to this problem and shed light on the important work being done by organizations like Radiance to support Indigenous communities on their journey towards healing.
The Legacy of Colonialism and Violence
The historical context of violence and trauma in Indigenous communities is deeply intertwined with the legacy of colonialism. For several generations, Indigenous peoples in Canada endured the devastating consequences of colonization, including the violent suppression of their languages, cultures, and traditions. Policies such as the residential school system tore families apart, leaving deep emotional scars that continue to affect Indigenous communities to this day.
Violence against Indigenous peoples, particularly women and girls, has had far-reaching implications. Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately at risk, experiencing some of the highest rates of violent and non-violent victimization in the country. This violence is not limited to strangers; it includes intimate partner violence, a pervasive form of abuse that inflicts significant and lasting harm on victims, their families, and their communities.
Understanding the Impact of MMIWG
Understanding the impact of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, as well as the Two-Spirit community, is crucial for recognizing and addressing the ongoing violence that plagues these communities. Indigenous cultures have long revered women and caregivers as sacred, yet many continue to be devalued and subjected to violence. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls aims to empower Indigenous women and girls by acknowledging their diverse cultures and unique systems. It recognizes that solutions must be culturally appropriate, respecting the distinctions between First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities.
Alberta’s MMIWG Roadmap offers a comprehensive approach through four pathways for action. The first pathway focuses on community connections, healing, and cultural support, aiming to address historical trauma, strengthen relationships, commemorate victims, protect languages, and improve wellness. The second pathway emphasizes education, economic independence, and infrastructure to enhance economic security through education, training, employment, and infrastructure development. The third pathway seeks to improve community wellness and the justice system by preventing violence, safeguarding children and youth, addressing health inequities, and enhancing the justice system.
The fourth pathway underscores accountability and inclusion, striving to increase public awareness and government accountability by engaging Indigenous communities, providing education, training, and collecting accurate data. These pathways signify a commitment to creating a more just and inclusive society where Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people can reclaim their power, ensuring that they are no longer victims of violence but instead are valued and protected members of their communities.
Radiance’s Commitment to Healing and Reconciliation
Radiance is an organization that recognizes the importance of healing the human spirit in Indigenous communities. Over the past year, we have taken meaningful steps towards building relationships with Indigenous elders and communities. These efforts include educational initiatives like the Blanket Exercise, which helps us understand our shared history in Canada and develop empathy for the intergenerational trauma that Indigenous people experience.
Radiance’s partnership with Indigenous Elder Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes is a testament to our commitment to fostering understanding and healing. Elder Chagnon-Greyeyes has shared her knowledge of the Medicine Wheel, supported smudging ceremonies, and consulted on our initiatives. Her involvement demonstrates our dedication to creating a safe and culturally sensitive space for Indigenous individuals who access their programs and services.
We take pride in the diversity of our board, which comprises individuals with varied backgrounds including indigenous representation. These perspectives greatly contribute to our ongoing efforts to establish connections and demonstrate profound respect for Indigenous culture.
While we are actively engaged in supporting Indigenous communities, we also acknowledge that there is always more to learn and more work to be done in our ongoing commitment to reconciliation and understanding.
National Truth and Reconciliation
As we approach the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, it is vital for all Canadians to acknowledge the ongoing struggles faced by Indigenous communities. Gender-based violence, exacerbated by colonialism, oppression, and racism, continues to inflict harm on Indigenous women, girls, and their families. Organizations like Radiance are working tirelessly to support Indigenous communities on their journey towards healing and reconciliation.
Reconciliation is not a one-day event but an ongoing commitment to dismantling systemic injustices and fostering understanding among all Canadians. By learning about and addressing the root causes of domestic violence in Indigenous communities, we can take concrete steps towards a more just and equitable society—one where every child truly matters.