Have a Heart Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day! A time for expressing love. It brings back delightful childhood memories of cutting out little paper sweetheart cards and writing names on them for my class party… and hoping that I receive just as many in return.

Every child should experience these happy memories. While this year may be a bit different for children who are attending online classes, I’m sure there will be many virtual celebrations. I have certainly seen paper hearts taped on windows in my neighbourhood.

Sadly, there are many children in Canada that don’t have the same positive experiences at school. This year I want to bring awareness to this situation, so we can show these kids love too.

Please take a few minutes to watch End the Gap and hear what these awesome kids and their teachers have to say.

I encourage you to also read the February 4, 2021 article Cindy Blackstock Is Still Fighting for Indigenous Kids to see that this problem has been going on for a very long time with little resolution.

First Nations children should not have to fight for basic services all other Canadians take for granted. We need to ensure these students have the same chance to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and feel proud of their culture.

Reconciliation is everyone’s responsibility.

Find out more about what you can do on the Have a Heart Day website. Also consider supporting organizations such as Books With Wings and The Ballantyne Project (#weseeyou).

Let’s do what we can to show these children we care.

Be Teachable

The definition of teachable is “apt and willing to learn.” Are you that person? Specifically, are you willing to put aside what you think you know… to learn another truth?

I’ve been doing that a lot lately. The pandemic and lockdowns have seen me with more time on my hands and because there is a plethora of free (or low cost) webinars and courses available right now, I’ve taken advantage of many.

I’m on a mission to learn as much as I can about Indigenous Peoples in Canada. What I have discovered has been enlightening, shocking and humbling on a very personal level. I realize that I’ve held preconceived notions that have proven to be so far from the truth that I can’t believe I ever thought the way I did.

As European descendants, many of us were led to believe that Indigenous Peoples were somehow “less advanced” than us. That way of thinking isn’t surprising because in the 1800’s the Government of Canada labelled Indigenous Peoples as “primitive, child-like and uncivilized.” They did that on purpose as a way to put them down and allow settlers to take over their land.

Sadly, that same attitude continues today in so many people.

What I have discovered in my education is that Indigenous Peoples pre-1800’s were exactly the opposite. They were incredibly advanced in languages, economics and trade, pharmacology and agriculture, animal behavior, astronomy and weather systems, political and reformatory systems, and spiritual wisdom and ceremonies.

In their rush to take over the land, the government actively destroyed Indigenous Peoples’ ways of living for the purpose of assimilating them. They removed children from their parents for generations as a way to eliminate their language, culture and knowledge. They arrogantly assumed that European ways were more intelligent and somehow better.

Separating generations of children from their parents and community, along with the horrible abuse they suffered in residential schools, left a legacy of shame, humiliation, pain and loss of identity that has resulted in domestic abuse, alcohol and drug addiction and so much more. The ripple effects are still felt today.

The resilience, self-determination and strength shown by Indigenous Peoples after enduring so much is truly remarkable.

After close to 200 years and generations of abuse, some of the Indigenous knowledge and ways of living have been lost. Fortunately, some have survived, and there is an effort now to bring more back through Elders holding this sacred knowledge.

There is much to learn about our shared history and current issues happening today. For reconciliation to happen, it is vitally important that every Canadian do their part and learn the truth for themselves. There are many ways to do that – books, videos, webinars, courses, social media groups, websites, etc.

Allow me to share just a few ways to get started. These are free or charge a small fee:

Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies at the University of Alberta. It explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.

Cultivating Compassion is a four-module workshop to create awareness and understanding of Indigenous and Canadian history in order to build bridges from the past to the present and subsequently our future.

KARIOS Blanket Exercise is a two-hour interactive workshop that allows you to learn the history most Canadians are never taught. While this is an amazing event in person, KAIROS has developed a virtual Blanket Exercise workshop that is now available.

Take a look online to see what courses are available that interest you and fit in the time that you have available. I’d love to hear what you take!

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