Call to Action: Stop the Racism and Genocide against Indigenous peoples

To our Community,

We are honoured to situate ourselves in the network of caring commitment, and calls to action, begun by Wapna’kikewi’skwaq – Women of First Light in response to the wounds of racism and violence borne by Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Recently we have seen heartrending examples of the political agenda of genocide organized by Canada’s ‘state, church and police,’ which were perpetrated through the IRS system.

As a sexual assault and advocacy centre, we witness the layer of gender-based violence that deepens these wounds. We also recognize the grievous harms that betrayals of trust cause in individuals and communities. Colonizer governments and systems repeatedly betray trust when we do not honour treaties or implement the calls to action that are generated by national inquiries.

We join with the Tatamagouche Centre in calling for ‘love, prayers and compassion,’ and also in urging our politicians into action that includes recognition and reparation to Indigenous peoples throughout our country. We especially recognize that in our own province we have the responsibility to address the legacy of the Shubenacadie Residential School. Elder Jane Meader, who held space for us in the seminar series Decolonization Journey, and is also a member of  Wapna’kikewi’skwaq – Women of First Light, answered a question about how to foster resilience after the experience of the IRS, by explaining that resilience looks like getting political, telling stories, honouring treaty rights and remembering the children who never came back.

As citizens and organizations, we can learn and act from the guidance in the two letters below and add our individual and collective voices to theirs. Avalon has added its voice to this call, sending this statement to the federal politicians listed in the Tatamagouche Centre’s letter as well as Nova Scotia’s premier.

Call for Action: Stop the Racism and Genocide against Indigenous peoples

Dear Friends,

We ask that you take the love, prayers and compassion that you have been sending and bring them into loving action. Please call, write, urge your politicians and other leaders to action. Individual letters mount and matter. Feel free to use and adapt our letter based on the Call to Action from Wapna’kikewi’skwaq -Women of First Light (both below).

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Hon. Justin Trudeau pm@pm.gc.ca; Hon. Carolyn Bennett carolyn.bennett@parl.gc.ca; Hon. Jagmeet.Singh@parl.gc.ca; Hon. Erin.OToole@parl.gc.ca; Hon. Yves-Francois.Blanchet@parl.gc.ca; Premier Iain Rankin premier@novascotia.ca

We in the Tatamagouche Centre community call for leadership and action from our politicians and faith-based leadership at this time to both name and stop the genocide against Indigenous peoples, our neighbours and friends. We stand with Wapna’kikewi’skwaq – Women of First Light, and Elders like Dorene Bernard who have been pushing hard for investigation at the site of the Shubenacadie Residential School. We join their Calls For Action to ensure:

• That the beloved 215 children discovered in British Columbia be given the dignity to be named and identified so they can find their way home and give peace to them and their families, their place of rest.

• That independent criminal investigations be conducted at every residential site across Turtle Island/ Canada.

• Missing children and burials sites be addressed as part of the 94 Calls to Action outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Report.

• That all governments address the Calls for Action in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Inquiry Report.

Your appeal to Pope Francis for a formal apology on behalf of the Catholic Church for its role in Residential School violence was an important step. We applaud Jagmeet Singh’s call to stop taking First Nations’ children to court and find ways to genuinely address the systemic roots of racism. We ask that you step up in your own leadership on the Calls for Action, the majority of which remain to be realized.

The discovery of the children has re-opened trauma for so many residential school survivors and their families. Ongoing support for gathering, healing and addressing collective trauma is critical.

As we write, there has also been a horrific and brutal murder of a Muslim family. It has always been real but this time has laid these realities painfully bare. We have atrocious racism in Canada. We need to address the systemic racism, Islamophobia that Black, Indigenous and People of colour are experiencing. We need to name and own it.

We look to your leadership at this critical time in history to both name and act on the racism and genocide that our friends and neighbours are experiencing. Honour your Treaty responsibilities, your commitments y to Peace and Friendship with real reparations and justice. We are all Treaty People. By honouring our Indigenous peoples, we honour ourselves.

Sincerely yours,

Tatamagouche Centre

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Call to Action: Stop the Genocide against Indigenous Peoples from

Wapna’kikewi’skwaq -Women of First Light

Wapna’kikewi’skwaq – Women of First Light sends our Prayers, love, and light across Turtle Island from the People of the Dawn. As Clan Mothers, Grandmothers, Aunties, and Mothers we are devastated and heartbroken by the news of the 215 beautiful children who were found in BC. Two hundred and fifteen future Clan Mothers, fire keepers, story tellers, leaders, and protectors that were taken brutally from our Nations. We Pray for their Spirit journeys as we Pray for their families and all our communities.

Now is the time for Truth to lead in the “Truth and Reconciliation” process that has so often been claimed by Canada but never fully implemented. The truth is the first thing the settlers did was replace the names of our Sacred Waterways and Homelands. Then they forced our people onto institutions called reserves. Then they made it law that we could not perform our Sacred Ceremonies or speak our Beautiful Languages, and then they stole our children.

We call on all governments to stand for these 215 children and the countless others who never made it home, and for those who came home with their spirits broken. We urge all governments to recognize the genocide that has been unfolding on this land for Indigenous Peoples for centuries, and then take concrete actions in response to that truth to put an end to the injustices and atrocities that we continue to face. What is truly required is “Truth and Reparation”. This atrocity of 215 defenseless Indigenous Children found is only one of many acts of genocide that state, police, and church have committed in Canada.

Every residential school site in Canada is a crime scene. Therefore, there must be independent criminal investigations conducted at each site to determine the true measure of the lives that have been lost. The children in this mass gravesite in BC must be given the dignity of being identified and named, so that their families can be notified, and they can be respectfully returned to their home communities for a loving burial. Additionally, we call on all governments to fully address the Calls for Action in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Inquiry Report

To the federal government, we say shame on you for continuing to appeal the settlement for residential school survivors in BC. You should be investing in true reconciliation and actively supporting those who were harmed, instead of wasting money trying to avoid responsibility for the harm that has been committed. Your current actions are adding another layer of abuse to the staggering levels of harm that Indigenous Peoples have already experienced, and you are doing so using taxpayer funds. Canadians are justifiably outraged by your ongoing abuse and your failure to uphold the trust given to you by the citizens of Canada.

Today, there are more Indigenous children in foster care than there were in residential schools. This is a clear sign of failure of the Canadian government to ameliorate the ongoing abuse and genocidal taking of our children. This must be stopped.

We extend our deepest gratitude and support to women like Cindy Blackstock and Pam Palmater who continue to fight for the protection of Indigenous children. They have bravely called out the ongoing genocide committed by the Canadian government. It is time for all of us, Indigenous Peoples, and settlers alike, to call on all levels of government to take responsibility for the atrocities that these children and their families have experienced and to take meaningful actions to ensure that these harms do not continue into the future. It is time for Canada to begin to honor and value the sacredness of every life, including the lives of all Indigenous Peoples.

Most sincerely

Wapna’kikewi’skwaq – Women of First Light